Are Vine celebs the next-generation of YouTube stars?

While Vine has created some disturbing memes, is it capable of creating its own celebrities? As interest in the platform continues to grow, it’s possible that the app will spawn a new genre of new media fame – something we witnessed before, when YouTube started creating a group of Internet famous types. Brands are hopping on board quickly, as are young meme-makers and comedians alike. Is it possible that these six-second loops could lead to 15 minutes (or more) of fame?

Adding on to the house that YouTube built

While it’s difficult to compare anything to the behemoth that is YouTube, there are some similarities between it and Vine. The original YouTube generation, those vloggers who figured out how to use the platform to become Internet celebrities, are much like the first-gen Vine users.
Of course, YouTube is a much less limited, larger platform – and it has Google behind it. But despite Vine’s “limitations” (and you might not see them as such), it too has a powerful backer: Twitter.

Twitter has been meticulously grooming Vine (one example is the Tribeca Film Festival’s #SixSecondFest) to prepare the social video app’s original content platform future. Twitter’s strategy is simple: Encourage the creation of quality original content and the eyeballs and new users will follow. Admittedly we’re not inclined to sit back with popcorn and watch a Vine clip, but user generated content has proven to be engaging enough on Vine, so there’s inevitably money to be made on both the corporate and user side even if Twitter hasn’t officially announced a revenue strategy.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way (to make money)

Meagan Cignoli, a Vine creator with approximately 330,000 followers, is part of the upper echelons of Vine content creators regularly courted by sponsors. While Cignoli declines to disclose how much she’s receiving due to the Non-Disclosure Agreements she’s signed with brands, she says that it’s “very much enough to make a living.” Offering a ballpark number, she discloses that each sponsorship deal is within the range of a video or a photo campaign – she’s also a filmmaker and photographer who owns and runs her own digital studio.

With brands including Nike, Lowes, and Rite Aid in a long list of previous sponsorship deals, at the least Cignoli isn’t concerned about a shortage of quality sponsors. And at the same time, tacking her name to these brands extends the reach and authority of her own name.

It’s a win-win, symbiotic relationship between the viral-hungry sponsor and Vine content creator. And sponsorship deals are plentiful with good reason. Corporate Vines are boosting likes and followers, raising brand awareness, and receiving positive feedback, which explains why so many brands are at creative Vine users’ doorstep. “There is a high demand right now, I am working every day, either shooting these vines or having meetings about them, or writing the treatments and story-boarding the ideas. I have also been producing high-res short videos and photography for brands. It has been nonstop since the first week,” says Cignoli.

She is lucky enough to have the luxury of hand-picking who she works with. “I am very picky. I have turned down several brands and I also choose which ones I promote personally and how many I promote at once.”

The challenge is that she doesn’t have much time to work on her personal Vine account, which is what jump-started her career.

Vine celebs and YouTube partners

Cignoli says “celebrity” isn’t a term she’d use just yet, even for someone with 330,000 followers. Perhaps it’s too early to label even the most well-known Vine users as Internet famous… but that seems to be changing quickly.

Similarily to the clique of YouTube vloggers in the platform’s earliest days, Cignoli says “the more popular users on Vine definitely have our group and we are all friends,” says Cignoli. “We have a lot in common regarding what is happening in our lives.”

The biggest difference of course is that YouTube offers content creators the opportunity to generate ad revenue off the bat. Just create an account, publish a video, and collect ad revenue. Making money off Vine means you have to “go viral” and get noticed. It’s a higher entry level barrier for sure. 

That isn’t to say Vine celeb-dom can’t find you. Cignoli says she’s never had to pitch brands. “I have been fortunate that they have all contacted me,” she explains.

Of course in the future, Vine might take (another) page out of YouTube’s book and add a function where all creators are able to make ad-based income. But for now, money and fame via Vine are all about relying on your creativity … but rest assured, the brand are watching.

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