Vine is something like the redheaded stepchild of the social media world: bizarre, misunderstood and perpetually in the shadow of giants Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. But for “Viners,” the six-second video platform has become an art form, one growing increasingly complex and adventurous, with the added challenge of maintaining a sense of individuality.
Arguably no one knows the ins and outs of Vine better than 2013 Auburn grad Sarah Hopkins—”I just graduated with this guy”—whose overnight journey from casual Vine enthusiast to bona fide web personality still manages to surprise her.
“I’ll tell you how when stuff really went down,” Hopkins said from Wilmington, NC where she works as a reporter with WWAY news. “I think my first one was in February of last year, but it wasn’t until September or late August when I started getting bigger because I actually got to interview [Michael Dennis], who had a 100,000 followers, for my internship.”
Dennis, a Vine celebrity known for his spontaneous comments and characterization, liked Hopkins’ Vine profile so much that he re-Vined their interview.
“By the end of that night I had gained 500 to 600 followers,” Hopkins said. “It just started to snowball from there.” Hopkins’ Vine profile, SayHop, now sits at about 182,000 followers; she’s adding more every day.
Vine magic, dolphin noises (Google “dolphin vine” and it’s nothing by Sara), and screen time for her Pomeranian Chico are all recurring themes in SayHop’s Vine arsenal, with titles like “If Humans Were Dogs” and “How I Feel Watching Jeopardy When I’m Sleep Deprived” being among the least absurd.
Hopkins’ December Vine of her surprising some Christmas party guests with her dolphin impression made the apps’ best of the year compilation—viral content repository BuzzFeed called what happened “The Most Hilarious Vine Reaction Ever”—and drew international attention.
“Somebody in Sweden actually emailed me and asked if they could buy the rights to that one video,” Hopkins said. “I was like what!?” In addition to Vine royalties, Hopkins was contracted by dog store BarkBox to do a Vine promo for their dog treats, but said she did that more for her dog Chico than for the attention it would bring her.
“I turned down most offers from companies because they’re stupid apps or products,” Hopkins said. “I don’t want to ruin my journalistic integrity by endorsing a lot of products. The only reason I did this last one was because it was for Chico. It’s dog treats, not anything else.”
Despite the attention and celebrity Vine has brought her, Hopkins said she remains committed to her career in broadcast news, even when the two don’t mix. Hopkins was forced to cancel her plans to attend a Viner meet-up in Alabama because of scheduling conflicts with the TV studio, but says she plans to attend an upcoming conference in New York.
“I don’t know why or how but Viners stay in contact with each other,” Hopkins said. “Maybe its because we have that connection of the weirdness of wanting to make six-second videos for a bunch of strangers all the time.”
Ask any Viner and they’ll tell you that every other social media is secondary to their Vine profile, Hopkins said. Besides re-hosting the original Vine videos, Viners will put bloopers, trashed Vines and other behind the scenes footage on their Instagram, Twitter, and Facebooks accounts to spread their name and find new followers.
Though she won’t Vine much at work, Hopkins said it’s a constant thing when she’s off the clock.
“A lot of times I’ll Vine throughout the day and never use any of them,” Hopkins said. “I probably don’t use 80 percent of the Vines I make… I just Vine for fun.”
Hopkins’ Vines have reached such widespread levels that Youtube recently gave her a contract so that she’ll receive monetary compensation every time a third party uploads one of her videos. Some day there might be a career in TV comedy, but for now reporting the news on TV is good enough for Hopkins. The overnight fame will be hard to live down, though.
“Late last night someone was like ‘HEY SARAH HOPKINS YOUR VINE MADE IT TO THE CHIVE.’ All I could say was, like, OK, cool.”
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