In the latest part of the Unruly Vine series, we spoke to Jerome Jarre, co-founder of Grapestory and arguably one of the most well-known short form video makers on the planet. In fact, the Frenchman is the 4th most followed to date, with an astonishing 6 million followers.
Jerome spotted the potential of Vine from day one and took it upon himself to get out there and share the love. In fact, he’s even got his own hashtag #lovelifelikecrazy, he’s so passionate about it.
He’s come along way in just over a year and a half. He risked it all to follow his heart and with a little help from some friends along the way has certainly made a name for himself.
We caught up with the entrepreneurial Vine star to find out why Vine has been so instrumental in his own story and how brands can make it a key part of theirs.
1. It seems we’re seeing lots of ex-YouTube stars find their true audience on Vine. How did you get in to Vine and what was your reason for moving focus away from YouTube?
The more platforms age, the more expectations rise. And that’s why I chose Vine, because it’s the first platform where I was creating content for the internet and so I started from the bottom in terms of quality, just like Vine, and that was great. It was good timing for me.
For someone who starts from scratch, with no background in creating online content, it’s good to start on a fresh new platform. Vine is still fantastic for that, and I believe the next big one will be Snapchat. Starting right now with zero audience and zero background in creating content on Snapchat is good because expectations are extremely low, especially because content disappears. So it’s good to play with.
2. What do you think makes Vine different from other formats?
I think the rawness of it; the fact that it’s all made on a phone and that our phones are so close to each other. When I hold my phone in my hand the distance between the phone and my face is one arm. When you watch my Vines, the distance between your phone and your eyes is also one arm. So I consider there are two arms of distance between me shooting a Vine and somebody seeing a Vine. It’s extremely close.
The other thing is creativity. Vine is purely about creativity. Novelty is rewarded on Vine so many times. On the ‘popular’ page, very often you see similar types of content trending. However, if you try something new and fresh that’s never been seen before, you’ll see a lot more engagement.
3. You took your Vine passion to the next level and started a business around it. What inspired you to create Grapestory?
I dropped out of business school when I was 20 to start my own businesses in China. One of them I started with my best friend Chris Carmichael became very successful, and we used the money to set up a software company in Canada. It was going really well, but I was missing something. It was not feeding my creativity. Then Vine launched. I heard about it on its launch day and downloaded it straight away. I was hooked.
It was clear in so many ways that Vine was going to be the next big thing, so I created a company around it to add more creativity to my life.
I started posting Vines just so I could understand the platform. I started making serious Vines, funny Vines. I was on Vine 12 hours a day. I was sleeping very little because I still had to run my company, and one of my business partners thought I was crazy for spending so much time on Vine.
Within just six months, I not only had 20,000 followers but also a good network of Viners, but I still couldn’t figure out what was going to be the business idea. It was then I decided I needed a business partner, someone connected to brands. Then I saw that Gary Vaynerchuk, the marketing legend, was going to be in Toronto. It was a perfect fit. I was inspired by Gary. I learned English when I was in China by reading Gary’s books and listening to his audiobooks.
Gary was going to this conference in Toronto, but I had no way to contact him. So, grabbing the mic at the conference, I asked him to play rock, paper, scissors with me. I said, ‘If I win, we have to have a drink in New York’. He accepted, so I jumped on stage and beat him. Within that week, I had left my business in Toronto, my apartment, everything.
Moving to New York with $400 in my pocket was a huge risk as it’s an expensive city. I had spent all my money before the meeting had even started. Luckily, five minutes into the meeting, he said “wow, let’s create a business together” and Grapestory was born. The idea was simple: help brands get on Vine, help Viners make a living out of Vine. The following day we flew to LA, met with the best Viners and most of them decided to join Grapestory. The ones that didn’t initially, joined later.
It’s been a fantastic year. I’ve been working with amazing brands like GE, Mondelez and Unilever. We’re building very big groups and every month we are almost doubling in terms of number of campaigns run. There’s more and more Viners that can live off Vine, and on a personal level, I get to be involved in both the creative side through my Vine profile and the business side through my company, so I’m having a blast.
My Vine exploded in a month from 20,000 followers to 1 million thanks to my feature on the Ellen Degeneres show. This was when I decided I should keep creating content too, as well as running a Vine business.
4. Who is your favourite Vine creator at the moment and why?
I could give you a list of a hundred people that have amazing content. For me the most talented comedian “Viner”, not at the moment but period, is Rudy Mancuso. His profile is unique. He’s not only a good actor, but an incredible producer too. He’s also the first Viner I ever saw with a tripod. He’s a perfectionist and it shows in his work.
5. As the platform becomes more and more popular, do brands have to rely on Vine stars to get cut-through and reach a large audience?
There’s no doubt Vine stars help brands reach their audiences. Vine is art and art needs passion and dedication. You can’t hire an intern or a community manager that hasn’t proved themselves on Vine and expect them to make your account popular. You need experts who thinks about Vine 24/7.
6. You’ve worked with brands before. What do you think brands should be doing to make their content stand out from the crowd?
They need to listen. Period.
Brands forget that content is about bringing value. Talking about your brand without bringing real value is old school and doesn’t work. You need to create positive emotions in people. Emotions add value. It’s like love. When you make someone smile, cry with laughter or say ‘wow’, that’s all love and brands need to start giving it.
Brands are getting better, though. They’re listening to good content creators. Some however, go with what the think they know, and fail.
Brands have the power to help Vine stars make even better content. A great example of this is when Marcus Johns and I were taken on a zero gravity flight by GE. It was amazing and only made possible by them. The added value came from the brand themselves and consequently the collaboration was very popular on Vine.
7. Do you believe that Vine stars will join YouTube celebrities in the future?
Yes! Vine stars have a bright future because what matters now is mobile. I see some YouTubers having a hard time creating content on a daily basis, whereas Viners can make lots of micro content very quickly. Young audiences are getting addicted to consuming micro content in all formats, whether it’s tweets, Vines or Instagram posts. Making one YouTube video a week isn’t going to feed their needs, where Vine can, easily.
At a higher level, YouTube hasn’t been great at getting its mobile platform sorted. They need to evolve and think like Vine and Snapchat.
8. As a content creator yourself, what do you think to people uploading content to Vine rather than making it on the platform. It certainly seems to be happening more and more.
This is a great question! I used to be a huge defender of organic Vine content, but the fantastic viner Marcus Johns introduced Vine-hacking to the mainstream and began blowing people’s minds. There was certainly a lot of mixed opinions in the early days. With HD production content coming on to Vine, people thought the rawness and the beauty of Vine would be lost.
However, it all changed on the day Marcus hit 1 million followers. He uploaded a clearly hacked piece of content to celebrate this milestone. However, this time Vine didn’t take the content down. It stayed on the popular page all day. That’s when my mind was changed.
To me Vine is a game. The founders write the rules, and if they’re happy with this, then so am I. I miss the organic days, but it’s evolving. Who knows, in the future we may be allowed to upload within the app.
9. I’m often asked what the most popular trends on Vine are. Would be great to hear your thoughts on the most.
Firstly, I try to avoid trends. I’m all about novelty. However, thinking broadly about trends, Vine is different. The life of a trend is much shorter, perhaps less than 24 hours.
When a trend does break, it breaks in a big way. The entire popular page often follows the same type of content, but once it’s broken, it’s gone for ever and no one will want to see this type of content again. They want something new.
10. Vine is evolving fast, faster than any other other video platform. What do you think the future holds? What are you expecting to see
The future of Vine will be content that evolves past comedy. Currently, 90% of the most popular Vines are comedy-related. But that’s changing. What’s coming is a broader audience demographic, so don’t be too surprised if your mum joins Vine. It’s going to happen.
Comedy will eventually just be a small part of Vine. Currently there are three real parts to Vine. Comedy, stop-motion (art), and music! Music is getting great traction on Vine. Look at the success of Us The Duo or Amy Marie, for example. Everyone needs to learn to tell stories in 6 seconds. This is the way our brains are becoming formatted. I see it as an espresso of content.
11. Just for fun. What’s the best reaction you’ve received from a Vine?
I did a prank Vine on a plane 3 days ago, where I was screaming about a pizza. It confused a lot of people. My Vine friend Robby Ayala texted me the next day saying his uncle had just emailed him about a guy he saw shouting about pizza on a plane and that everyone had wanted to talk to him and take pictures with him. He said he knew immediately that his uncle had been on the same flight as me.
I’ve had lots of epic reactions. One day I saw a man sleeping in his truck in the middle of the day and went up to the window and started singing about the beautiful day. He jumped out the truck and started running after me. Rudy was with me and he shouted that the driver had a gun. I ran as fast as I could all the way back to the office. I was terrified. Only then did I find out Rudy was pranking me.
Apart from that, it’s always positive. If I include someone in my Vine, I always like to spend 10 minutes talking to them about what I’m doing and find out more about them. I love meeting people and hearing their stories, that’s why I always Vine with strangers!