In Zeynep Tufekci’s, Social Movements, the Attention Economy and Microcelebrity Networked Activism, she covers these three topics by narrowing in on the key actions that a person can take to gain publicity for themselves or for a cause. I know you may be thinking, “this was just published in March 2013” but that is exactly why I chose it. In eight short months, there is already new forms of social media that can be explored and expanded with the information Tufekci has provided us with. For the sake of this post, I am going to focus on her idea of attention, which she defines as “the means through which a social movement can introduce and fight for its preferred framing, convince broader publics of its cause, recruit new members, attempt to neutralize opposition framing, access solidarity, and mobilize its own adherents ” (2) as well as her idea of a nonactivist microcelebrity which is shared with Marwick and Boyds definition and is defined as “mindset and set of practices in which audience is viewed as a fan base; popularity is maintained through ongoing fan management; and self-presentation is carefully constructed to be consumed by others” (4)
With these definitions we are going to examine the newest fad in social media, Vine.
On August 8th 2013, Wired.com came out with a great article on “Why Vine Just Won’t Die.” Acquired by Twitter before the release date on January 24th 2013, Vine is a social media platform that allows users to create a six second video of whatever they please. By April 2013, Vine became the most downloadable free app within the iOS Apple store and the company then expanded the length of the video to seven seconds instead of six. But then, with the creation of Instagram video (being a total of 15 seconds) everyone thought Vine was over with. Even though there was initially a decline, that soon changed and Vine was again on the ups. Matt Honan, author of the Wired.com article, said it best when he stated “If Instagram is an art museum, Vine is a block party.” It’s a younger, hipper, more experimental platform that is gaining more traction by the month.
Personally, I am a big fan of Vine. I am not a fan of watching longer video’s so being able to scroll through six-second videos when I am sitting around is a treat. Initially I only followed my friends but then decided to start exploring and finding “vine famous” people to follow. A few of these people being Robby Ayala (1.9 million followers and following 165), KC James (2.8 million followers and following 235), Jerome Jarre (3.4 million followers and following 3,000 people) Brittany Furlan (3.6 million followers and following 193 people), and King Beach (3.7 million follower and following 83 people) are not known by the public before vine, but since their new found fame, have gone on to become microcelebrities within the vine community. Tufekci explains to us that one very important factor of microcelebrity is to create an asymmetrical attention relationship in which the viewers of the content pay more attention to you than you do to them. It is evident that all of these vine microcelebirties acquire that. It is also important to point out that when a good Vine is created, it is watched (gains attention) multiple times by its audience. Touching on Tufekci’s main point about attention economy, some of these Vine microcelebrities have used their attention economy as leverage for other resources. For one, some of them have been picked up by brands to do clips on promoting their new products. As you can see by clicking here , KC James did a promotion for Square Cash which in result landed them 25,084 likes and 7,136 revines. Also, Jerome Jarre did a promotion for Trident Gum’s new flavors which gained over 210,000 likes and 96,446 revines, click here to see.
Even though these Vine microcelebrities are not political activist themselves, Vine itself has become a place for news and urgent updates about events happening in your area. On top of self made clips from users, a company called Now This News has taken Vine by storm to break the daily news and ask viewers their opinions on matters. They obtain these vine microcelebrities to break the news and in result have created a following of over 148,000 people over the last few months.
All in all, Vine has become a platform that had endorsed these people to become microcelebrities and has gained them enough attention to start connecting with companies and new business in getting a message out there. Some of them have even made a full time job out of it. Tuefekci hits the nail on the head when describing what and how these people should conduct themselves and how to maintain your followers as well as their attention. The Vine is the condensed elevator speech to a mass audience of people and it will be interesting to see where the company and these microcelebrities are in a year from now.