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Do it for the Vine: The Secret Origin of the Internet Sensation

Can you make a breakfast omelet within six seconds? Well, not many people can. Six seconds may not seem like a long time, but Vine, the video loop-sharing app that has become an Internet phenomenon, has made it worth a lifetime.

Launched just last year, Vine now has over 40 million registered users uploading short, clip length videos featuring everything from the impressive (sky diving out of a plane) to the talented (rapping over your favorite beat) to the bizarrely random (screaming in public). They all replay back on themselves making these users six seconds of fame an eternity once they go viral.

The Explosion of Vine

According to The New Zealand Herald, Dom Hofmann, one of Vines’ co-founders, knew he was on to something big, but wasn’t sure how much people would use it.

“We knew that people all had these smartphones with great video cameras on them, but they weren’t using them at all,” Hofman said.

The 26-year old entrepreneur  and two of his other partners Rus Yusupuv and Colin Kroll came up with a simple basic ideas of Vine. Users touch and hold the screen to record and release it to stop, filming with the phone upright.

Keeping it this simplistic allowed for easy to manage six second clips ideal for uploading and sharing quickly with friends. In October 2012, the small company was purchased by Twitter and fully integrated into the social media service by June of the following year.

What really separates a great vine from an average one depends on the message they are trying to deliver. The most popular vines tend to be the comedic ones. Many people on the service have gained a substantial following based on their ability to get people laughing in quick fire jokes.

Vines have almost become a bit of a sub genre of comedy. But upstart comedians aren’t the only ones getting their share of the popularity.

Some users gain their following through impressive tricks such as shooting a three pointer from ten feet away backwards. Some users have managed to convey entire stories by distilling the key points to the limited time. In Feb. 2013, Turkish journalist Tulin Daloglu’s Middle Eastern publication Al-Monitor documented the aftermath of a car bomb using a series of Vines, which showcased just how useful the service can be if applied to something more news oriented. Some of the other channels that have since grown in popularity include, music, DIY, news, family and food.

Recently, large corporations are starting to see the value in using Vine as a marketing tool. ABC News reported industry analysts claim corporate America is forecast to spend “$4 billion this year alone on it, probably twice that much by the end of the decade.” Connecting big corporate brands like Coca Cola with social media stars is the best way to influence people because they can relate to it. In today’s internet centric society, social media stars are often more popular, relatable, and influential with watchers than Hollywood actors and actresses.

“If you give somebody constraints, it’s easier to be creative,” Hoffman said. “Making a vine that goes viral is more art than science.” It is a science that larger companies are trying to adopt.

Instagram, another social media startup who met success back in 2011, launched a 15 second video function in June of last year. A clear attempt to compete with Vine, Instagram struggled to find its footing outside of the personal use of its user base.

With more time to shoot a video, many wondered if there would be any effect in the steady growth in popularity of vines.

“At the time everybody was using Vine, then Instagram came out with video. Everybody seemed to go back to Instagram for a bit,” said  Tesfa Jones,  a social media user and entrepreneur.

Unfortunately for Instagram, it failed to maintain the same sense of persistent community associated with Vine.

Future of Vine

With the initial goal of getting the app out into the public and making it simple as possible to use, what’s next for the service.

Now the company is looking for better and more creative ways to keep their audience attached. Just this past August, additions to the robust editing tools were made including importing captured footage, ghost shooting, slow motion camera and more. With the company constantly refining the art of the six second video, only time will tell  how Vine will continue to evolve. With Vine already having a bit of an advantage over any potential competitors, its seems like they’ve monopolized a niche no one could have guessed existed. In the meantime though, there are plenty of Vines out there to keep users and viewers alike entertained as the story unfolds (and continuously loops) itself.


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