Student makes Vines, followed by thousandsBy Francie Johnson | 11/30/2014 10:47pm
“Sometimes I’ll catch people taking my picture,” said Benson, a freshman majoring in telecommunication and film. “One time [my friend and I] were just eating at Lakeside, and a girl takes a picture over her shoulder, and I see myself circled in red.”
Vine, an online video sharing app created in 2012, allows users to create and share videos roughly six-and-a-half seconds in length. Benson made his debut in a Vine posted by his older brother, Darius Benson, who has 1.7 million Vine followers under the username MrLegenDarius.
“We ended up making a Vine about me running for class president that September, and that one got like 500 million hits on different sites,” Benson said. “So then I was like ‘I should just keep making videos,’ and the rest just sort of added up to this.”
After creating his own Vine account in September 2013, Benson has 237,500 Vine followers and over 136 million total ‘loops,’ or video plays.
“It’s all gradual,” he said. “Every time I make a post, I get a boost in followers. If you keep coming up with content, you’ll keep getting new followers, and eventually you can make some pretty big moves.”
While Benson can be considered “Vine famous,” he said most Vine users don’t set out with that intention. Most Vine users use the app for entertainment purposes.
“Vine is more of a spectacle than any other social media,” he said. “On Twitter, it’s like, ‘If I follow them, then my following-to-follower ratio will be weird.’ On Instagram it’s like, ‘I want to get a bunch of likes on this picture.’ I think that’s what makes Vine unique, it just exists for people to be entertained.”
James Howard, a freshman majoring in chemistry and a friend who helps Benson create Vine videos, has past experience publishing videos on YouTube. He said Vine’s time constraints make it unlike any other video publishing platform.
“It’s a lot harder to make Vines that are good than to make good YouTube videos because people go to YouTube to watch a three or four minute video,” he said. “People want to be entertained right now when it comes to Vine.”
Chris Bogard, another friend who assists Benson on Vine, said the time limit forces users to condense their jokes to the bare essentials.
“If you watch a stand-up act, you never see a joke fully evolve in 6.4 seconds,” said Bogard, a freshman majoring in civil engineering. “If you watch Kevin Hart’s stand-up, he tells a story that takes like four minutes, and then it’s funny. With a Vine, you have to introduce the joke, set up and then punchline in 6.4 seconds.”
Creating Vine videos started out as just a hobby, but it has since transformed into a source of income for Benson. After acquiring an agent this past summer, he has created sponsored Vines featuring the products or brand names of various companies.
“I made five figures two months ago, and my brother, he’s making a lot of money doing this,” Benson said.
Benson, Bogard and Howard are currently working on a 55-part interactive Vine series, structured in a “Choose Your Own Adventure” fashion. Benson said he expects the series to bring him around 50 thousand new followers.
“Hopefully I’ll just keep making videos, get big, maybe do some projects that aren’t Vine,” he said. “Really the doors are open to Viners right now, so hopefully I can branch out of Vine, but until then I’ll just keep making videos on Vine.”