Call it the quest for six seconds of fame.
Twitter's Vine platform is birthing a new generation of celebrities that brands are latching on to, paying out anywhere between four-figure and five-figure sums for a six-second piece of content.
One of those "celebrities" is photographer and director Meagan Cignoli, who was "discovered" by home improvement retailer Lowe's when the company was hunting for someone to direct videos for a Spring campaign called #FixinSix, which showed home improvement tips via Vine.
Ms. Cignoli, who has 337,000 followers, said that the day after Lowe's got in touch with her, she heard from more brands, including Puma and eBay Now. To date, she's worked with 14 marketers --including Nike, BMW and GE -- and has signed to shoot for 11 more.
One of those was Warner's Bras, which started their #getcomfortable campaign with zero followers on Aug. 5, and ended it with close to 5,000. The total social actions for their campaign, which asked seven Vine influencers to work for the campaign, totalled almost 500,000 in likes, comments and revines. While no official measurement exists for Vine impressions, Warner's Bras points to its "potential Vine reach" number, which takes the Viners' followers, multiplies it by postsand adds the contributors together. That number for #getcomfortable was 9.8 million.
Ms. Cignoli was discovered by brands organically, mostly because she does stop motion, one of two big buckets of "categories" brands are most interested in on Vine (the second is comedy, which edgier brands are more likely to delve into).
But there's even a new talent agency in town specifically geared toward Vine users.
GrapeStory, founded by brand consultant Gary Vaynerchuck in partnership with "unofficial King of Vine" Jerome Jarre currently has between 20 and 30 "Vine stars" signed on, and has helped find talent for campaigns for GE and Virgin Mobile, among others. According to Mr. Jarre, Vine celebs represented at his agency can make up between $1,000 to $10,000 per Vine video, depending on follower count and engagement levels.
Mr. Jarre, who himself has 1.8 million followers and was one of the earliest people on the platform, said that people who tend to hit the big time are those who spend time on their videos and keep a sense of positivity in their content. (Mr. Jarre's tagline on Vine is "I love life like crazy.")
One young celeb doing just that is 19-year-old Brandon Calvillo. With an interest in film -- but without the money to buy a computer and the necessary software -- Mr. Calvillo did his first Vine video in February featuring a pretty uninspiring subject: his dog. But by April, he had 10,000 followers. Today, he has 963,000, and does comedic-style Vines featuring himself, his mom, sometimes a toddler, all with unexpected twists. One featured him heading into a McDonald's bathroom only to find the Burger King "King" sitting inside, eating a burger. He said he never scripts his Vines, but works off a base idea that he says just comes to him.
What works on Vine? "The unexpected ones featuring a normal situation," he said. What doesn't: "Gross-out humor, swearing and fake drug use," as well as overuse of special effects or software. "Vine should have this cool home-video feel to it," he said.
After striking up a Twitter conversation with another Vine star, Curtis Lepore, Mr. Calvillo found out about GrapeStory. The talent agency landed him a 10-Vine deal with Virgin Mobile. All of them will appear in Virgin Mobile's Vine feed. Five of them will specifically promote the brand's music festival; the other five he will have complete creative control over, as long as they also appear in his own Vine stream.
Mr. Calvillo is still working at a GameStop, but said that with a couple more deals under his belt, he can see himself making a living off doing Vine work.
Mr. Vaynerchuck said he hasn't really seen anybody get up to a six-figure payout yet for Vines, although he maintains that "every brand working with a Vine celebrity right now is getting a steal."
That magic six-figure number is what drew buzz back in 2010 when it was reported that YouTube celebrities were making over $100,000 via ad revenue they split with YouTube. Those kinds of plans aren't in place at Vine parent Twitter, and indeed, it seems like unlike YouTube, Twitter is mostly hands-off when it comes to the burgeoning talent on its video platform. According to a spokesperson, Twitter doesn't have a dedicated team to connect brands with prolific Viners.