For 21-year-old Ben Phillips, a £12,000 windfall is less than a minute away – six seconds, to be precise, The Telegraph reports.
All he needs to do is upload a clip filmed on his smartphone to the social media platform Vine. If he mentions a product or brand, that company will pay him thousands of pounds.
Now the Cardiff local gets paid up to £2,000 for each second of promoted video he uploads. Phillips’ comedy clips include playing pranks and acting sketches with his friends – not high budget television ads – which have earned him the ear of advertisers.
But it’s not his homemade videos that brands are interested in. They are queuing up to get a mention in the hope that his 1.2 million followers will buy their products.
Phillips is one of a growing group of young British “Viners” – a small clique of smartphone users who upload six-second home videos for anyone to watch.
His newfound internet stardom is a far cry from his job in a shoe shop in South Wales, when last July he was working and began uploading Vines in his spare time. “I saw some lads in America were getting loads of interest on this website, so I began with some comedy scenes,” he said.
He said he had no idea that a chance encounter with the website would turn into a lucrative business.
“I was working at my mum’s shop and hadn’t a clue what Vine would turn into, no one was on it in the UK.”
Phillips began by filming spots with his then-girlfriend’s three-year-old son, Harley. He began a ‘Dr Harley’ series in which the toddler would give spoof medical advice. One instalment – If you’ve got a boo boo, wash it, kiss it and plaster it! – has been watched by more than six million people.
A clip of the pair mooing while seated in the back of a car received two million views (“loops,” Phillips calls them, explaining the Vine lingo).
A video of Harley tidying his room to the riff of the White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army also surpassed the two million loop mark.
Ben Phillips: ‘We don’t have celebrity status’: Phillips said the pair’s popularity rocketed over night. “About two months after I started doing Vines with my ex’s little boy Harley, we got around one million followers.”
At that point, advertisers began knocking on his door. Car makers, clothing brands, mobile networks, and food and drink producers were all keen to get a mention in his videos.
“I had companies saying ‘we want to pay you to promote our product’ and management teams contacting me out of the blue.” Phillips said he preferred to go it alone, and began picking which brands to promote. “I’d only really promote products that I would use. But it works when I do because we don’t have that ‘celebrity’ status – we’re just ordinary people.”
He said he would continue to create videos on Vine – but to make people laugh, not to make cash. “The money side of it doesn’t really phase me because my sole intention is to show people skills and cheer them up. Six seconds is enough to make someone smile. People at work, if they’re really bored, can watch a couple of videos and then get back on with the day.”
Phillips recently returned from a trip to Venice. “Just yesterday I was recording on my phone from a gondola – I’m trying to upload videos from landmarks across the world.”
His product coverage is eclectic, ranging from covering up graffiti on his white car with Tipp-Ex (complete with hashtag #TipexThursdays) to creating a promotional video for Nokia.
£2,000 a second: how?: For each video, Mr Phillips says that advertisers will pay around £6,000 to £12,000 per vine.
A rate of £2,000 a second is hefty even for large advertisers – but Phillips says it offers good value. “I can guarantee a company one to seven million loops within 24 hours. What magazine could offer that? I’m giving people phenomenal marketing.”
The key to getting an advertising deal is simple: get more followers.
This is a market where individuals can be picked up and dropped instantly. Rob Fishman, founder of social media company Niche, said: “Whatever the media platform, anyone with a few thousand followers is valuable to companies.” But as soon as their popularity wanes, advertisers will look towards the next big fad.
Social Media Bible author Lon Safko said, “It’s all about the eyes. As a sponsor that’s all I care about.” Safko said the platform might not be lasting. “Someone might be hot now, but a year from now, people will be bored and move on to the next shiny object. It’s a fad that changes often,” he said.
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