From Starbucks to 16-year-old Shawn Mendes: Vine marketing hits of 2015 by Erik Sherman @FortuneMagazine May 18, 2015, 11:06 AM EDT E-mail Tweet Facebook Google Plus Linkedin Share icons For a brief week, Canadian high school student Shawn Mendes had the number one album in the U.S., according to Billboard. (It’s now down to 47.) He’s the youngest person to hit the top since May 2010, when fellow Canadian Justin Bieber did. Never heard of Mendes? Ask a kid with a smartphone. Mendes made his name on Twitter’s Vine service, which runs six-second video loops. A music industry impressed with his online popularity courted him and the musician signed with Island Records. He’s not the only one who has received a professional boost: Michael and Carissa Alvarado, performing as Us the Duo, signed with Republic Records. Another artist and producer, Dawin, signed with Casablanca Records. Major talent agency William Morris Endeavor signed comedian and Viner Ryan Doon. Comedian Brittany Furlan has a sketch comedy show development deal produced by Seth Green. But it’s not just fame and potential careers awaiting those with millions of millennial followers on Vine. There’s also cold, hard cash as companies have tried to piggy back on the social network. Some pay between $5,000 and $50,000 for a single six-second video, according to Laura Chavoen, director of social media at marketing agency GREY. “The most frequent and the largest audience on the channel right now is millennials — anywhere from 13 to 25,” she said. And reaching that demographic is an itch that many marketers have to scratch, even if it’s pricey. The low end can be $500 to $1,000, according to Nick Cicero, CEO of Delmondo, a production platform that works with Vine creators and brands. The final sum depends on a number of factors. “How large the audience is, how involved the process is, and what are they doing for the brand,” Cicero said. “There are a lot of individual creators out there will get paid for a single post that’s part of a bigger experience. Maybe they’re getting paid to amplify a brand’s idea. Other times, they may be a focal point.” Cicero said that his company has worked with such clients as Twentieth Century Fox and JBL Audio. Restaurants and food companies also get into the mix. Starbucks made a deal with a Vine creator who goes by the name Simply Sylvio, doesn’t say a word, and wears a gorilla costume. Kofi Frimpong, founder of an influencer marketing company called BrandSlip, reps Vine creators who get more in the range of $2,000 to $4,000 per video. “These are guys that have roughly 2 million to 3 million followers,” he said. The companies that have used Vine aren’t limited to the areas of mobile tech and Hollywood, and sometimes they do their own creation. Lowe’s made a hit with a brilliant set of DIY loops called Fix-in-Six, showing how much practical information someone can communicate in such a short time. General Electric was on from the first days, as well. “We like to be early on new, interesting platforms that seem to have create utility and a lot of interest from where young audiences are going,” said Sydney Lestrud, GE’s global digital and social marketing manager. The company promoted a six-second science fair concept, where Viners would show science experiments. “What we saw was a groundswell of different people from different communities participating in our campaign,” she said. “All we had to do was give people inspiration in six seconds of how science experiments can come to life.” The experts agreed that Vine is beginning to cool off a bit. Audiences are now heading to live streaming platforms like Meerkat and Periscope. Also, native video on Facebook and Twitter put some dent into the desirability of Vine. Still, the platform remains a strong tool for now. “If they have the following and these brands want to connect with that generation, Vine is the place to be,” said Dawn Edmiston, an associate professor of marketing at William & Mary. “The growth has slowed down a little bit, but I’m bullish that the … possibilities of Vine haven’t been [completely] tapped yet,” said Ted Zahn, group creative director at marketing agency Swift. And there’s still time to become a star. “I think someone could still sign up today on Vine and become a star in a year to two years, if they work the right way in terms of consistently putting out content and collaborating with other Vine stars,” said Frimpong. Better grab your smartphone and gorilla suit while you still can.