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The Rise and Fall of Vine: My Story

Vine has changed my life for the better. It has taken me down paths that I could have never expected, given me experiences that I could have never imagined, and helped me get into my dream school. I will forever be grateful for you, Vine. To the creators of Vine and the community that I have come to know and love: I’ll miss you.

Within a few months of the January 2013 Vine launch, I downloaded the application and tried to figure out how I could use it differently than others. At the time, most of the content creators with the biggest followings were producing funny 6-seconds skits. These short videos would then get on Vine’s Popular page, where people would go to watch the funny videos. This helped viewers find the best content while also expanding the audience for the producers. It was a win–win for both the viewer and influencer.

Next, the style of videos began to vary. Some creators were making stop motion videos, a cinematographic technique whereby the camera is repeatedly stopped and started to give animated figures the impression of movement.

After the news was released, Vine founder Dom Hofmann (@dhof) tweeted this picture via twitter, with the caption “5/5/12”

After the news was released, Vine founder Dom Hofmann (@dhof) tweeted this picture via twitter, with the caption “5/5/12”

I discovered a new way to take advantage of the interesting recording style of videos on Vine (the tap and hold technique) that was later coined as “Vine Magic.” I would start recording a video and then abruptly stop it, change something in the frame, line up the frames again, and restart the video recording. These videos looked like illusion, like magic.


I created videos like this for nearly six months without recognition. I just liked to make the videos, so I did it. It was a way to showcase a creative side of myself that not many people knew about. Then, suddenly, my videos began to gain traction. A few of them landed on the Popular page, and from there the momentum took me away. I gained followers at an unimaginable pace. I kept posting videos and people kept enjoying them. I quickly had 100,000 followers. I couldn’t even wrap my head around it.

The craziest part is what happened next: I started getting job offers at 15 years old. I was asked to sign a deal with GrapeStory, a mobile-first influencer-marketing agency. At the time, this company had exclusively signed with many of the top influencers on Vine. I was honored, even though I didn’t really know what it meant. I soon found out. GrapeStory finds companies for influencers to work with and promote on their personal accounts. As of today, I have produced Vines with companies and brands including Aquafina, Charmin, Chips Ahoy, Ritz, Virgin Mobile, Milk Bone, Coca Cola, Major League Soccer, Kellogg’s, Chrysler, Silk, Microsoft, NBC Universal, 7UP, Intel, Visa, Nickelodeon, and even Marvel. I went from being your average high-school student, worried about sports and homework, to being a content creator and advertising outlet for Fortune 500 Companies. It was crazy.

Then one Monday, during the summer between my junior and senior years of high school, I created this video:

After less than an hour, it had more than 20,000 likes. In less than a day, it had reached nearly 300,000 likes. I was getting emails from places like Good Morning America and the Today Show asking to feature it. Good Morning America did a short feature, breaking down the creation process of the video:

This vine was reposted by celebrities all over Twitter and Facebook. A number of my friends told me that they had seen the video before realizing that I was the one who made it. This was by far my most popular video ever. It is currently sitting at 530,000 likes and over 63,000,000 views, just on Vine. I reached 1 million followers on Vine in July of 2016, and I credit my swimming pool post for these numbers. It’s still tough for me to digest the fact that the number of people who follow me on Vine are nearly the same as the amount of people who live in my home state of Rhode Island.

I would consider 2014 as Vine’s most active year. That is when I saw the highest level of engagement and success in my videos and the videos of my peers. As 2015 came around, I could tell that traction was slowing down a bit for Vine as a whole. Engagement seemed to drop steadily. On top of it, a lot of Viners were moving over to other platforms such as Instagram and YouTube because they saw more opportunities to make money and engage with audiences. Viners were losing interest in the six-second video and posting less, thus the viewers were increasingly losing interest and using the application less frequently.

The decline of Vine was circular in nature. Although I started creating videos because I loved it, I continued making videos because of the audience. But when the audience left, so did my desire to post. As the audience disappeared and engagement slowed on the app, influencers didn’t feel the need to post as much. As influencers were posting less, their followers noticed, and they opened up Vine less.

I can’t say I was surprised when I heard that Vine is dying. For me, it’s the end of an era. While I would have loved to avoid this day, I respect Vine’s decision not to drag out the application’s demise.

As the Vine meets its end, social media is not over for me. Vine has taken me down a particular path and steered my future. I love social media and have now been exposed to the world of marketing and advertising and want to pursue it as a career.

As for the future of short video, I don’t think anyone truly knows what’s next. Will it continue its popularity on Twitter and Instagram, or will a new platform emerge? What does Facebook Live streaming mean for sharing things in real-time? Will Snap and Instagram stories replace television one day? Although I’d like to believe that platforms can adapt to change and stay popular forever, the truth is most probably won’t. There will always be people trying to revolutionize technology, and chances are, the platforms that we know and love will someday all be discontinued, just like Vine.

Duke Plays 2048

2048 challengeFew things hold a captive audience for more than a few minutes in our busy media environment. That’s why the viral “2048” game stood out to me. After seeing a few hilarious examples using the 2048 game template around the web, our digital team brainstormed how we could make a Duke version.

We decided to reward those who played our version by offering prizes to whomever reached the coveted “2048” tile. We used photos from our @dukeuniversity Instagram account so when they reached the “2048” tile they could find the corresponding Instagram photo and comment on it to win. This also gave us the opportunity to show off beautiful parts of campus and the student experience to players.

The game was a big success! Not only did we have our two winners within minutes, but community members continued to play and post comments on the winning photo for days.

We knew the game was especially popular with younger audiences so we then made another customized version for admitted #Duke2018 students. We shared a link to this version via email communication from Duke’s undergraduate admissions office and saw immediate success again. Dozens of admitted students commented on the winning Instagram photo and even followed our account as a result. During Blue Devil Days (our recruiting events for admitted students) students and parents commented again and again how much fun they had playing Duke’s 2048 game. One parent even told us how her daughter saw a beautiful red bridge in on one of the game tiles that led her to search for the real bridge in the Sarah P. Duke Gardens when she visited campus! It was great to see our digital efforts pay off in real life.

We tracked over 2,400 clicks to both of the games over the course of our campaign. This was more than just a high click-through rate. It represented hours spent playing the games and getting glimpses of the Duke experience through our Instagram photos. We learned that it pays off to keep your finger on the pulse in order to latch on to larger cultural moments. By adding a Duke flavor to this one, we were able to connect to key audiences in an unexpected way.

I Can Haz Photo Contest? Boost Your Facebook Engagement with Crowd-Sourced Photos

People love seeing photos of themselves online. “Selfie” was word of the year for a reason, after all.

But if there’s one thing the Internet has taught us, it’s that as much as people love seeing themselves, they love adorable pictures of animals even more. And if you turn that into their adorable animals, well, that’s a perfect storm.

After several years of running a successful Halloween photo contest that solicited snapshots of dressed up coworkers and decorated offices, Duke’s Office of Communication Services decided to see what kind of response we’d get from organizing a pet-themed photo contest on our Facebook page in February.

Instead of finding the most creative costumes, we wanted to find “Duke’s cutest pet.”

How we did it

We promoted the contest through our Working@Duke social media channels (Twitter and Facebook) and on Duke Today, having entries submitted to us through a Qualtrics form in order to easily capture participant contact information and photo submission.

In all, we received 39 photos and tallied nearly 1,200 votes over the course of a week. Winners were determined by public vote, but we also had “judge’s choice” selections to spread the wealth of pet-themed prizes.

We asked that entries try to focus on a Duke-related connection when possible, which included shots of a turtle in “Cameron Indoor Aquarium,” a hamster sitting in a Duke hat and even a dog wearing a Blue Devil cape.

Why we did it

While the goal was to offer a fun way to engage our community, it also benefited our presence on Facebook. All voting was held on our page in the form of likes and people were allowed to share their pictures however they saw fit to drum up support.

With so many people coming to our page to vote, here are some of the stats where we saw increases from January to February:

  • 204 percent increase in monthly likes
  • 270 percent increase of views of our Facebook page
  • 306 percent increase in the number of people clicking on our content

All this was boosted because people were voting in our contest, but even after we announced our winners on Feb. 18, we saw sustained engagement with all our posts through the end of the month, whether it was related to the contest or not.

Should you consider a contest?

Since Facebook changed its terms of service to allow for these types of contests, it seems like a goldmine for potential engagement, if only because you’re creating the opportunity to show off something your fans are passionate about. In our case, their furry (or slimy) loved ones.

Once people submit photos, the heavy lifting is uploading them and their information. Since voting is done through likes on your Facebook page, the platform does the work for you.

Most important, you’re likely to see an uptick in your monthly stats and grow your Facebook fan base. In the months since the February contest, we’ve seen increased engagement to go along with our growing number of page likes.

This is a guest blog post by Bryan Roth, senior writer/producer with Duke’s Office of Communication Services.

Nerdy Holidays For Higher Education

calendar_january_joelanmanSocial media managers are all too familiar with obscure holidays like “Speak Like a Pirate Day” or “National High Five Day.” These dates offer a great opportunity to connect with audiences around a dynamic concept. However, these holidays don’t always mesh with content from colleges and universities. For higher education communicators, I’ve created an intellectual and scholarly (read: nerdy) list of holidays and anniversaries that tap into our expertise.

Let the Duke social media team know how you celebrate these days and suggest additions to the list in the comments section.



January 2nd:  Science Fiction Day

January 7th: Zora Neale Hurston’s birthday

January 9: Simone de Beauvoir’s birthday

January 13: “International” Skeptics Day

January 15th: Wikipedia Day

January 18: Thesaurus Day

January 25: Opposite Day



February 1: Langston Hughes’s birthday

February 7: Charles Dickens’s birthday

February 12: Charles Darwin’s birthday

February 22: World Thinking Day

February 24-28: Fair Use Week (changes every year)

February 27th: John Steinbeck’s birthday



March 2: Dr. Seuss’s 110th birthday

March 6: Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s birthday

March 8: International Women’s Day

March 11: Douglas Adams’ birthday

March 14: Pi Day

March 15: Ides of March

March 25: Tolkien Reading Day

March 31: 125th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower opening



April 3: Tweed Day

April 13: Scrabble Day

April 16: National Librarian Day (Library Week is April 13-19)

April 22: Earth Day

April 22: Vladimir Nabokov’s 115th birthday

April 25th: DNA day

April 27th: Morse Code Day and Samuel Morse’s birthday



May 5: Soren Kierkegaard’s birthday

May 5: Karl Marx’s birthday

May 6: National Teacher Appreciation Day

May 11: Salvadore Dali’s 110th birthday

May 18: International Museum Day

May 25: Ralph Waldo Emerson’s birthday

May 27: 70th anniversary of first performance of “No Exit”

May 30: Walt Whitman’s birthday



June 5: Frederico Garcia Lorca’s birthday

June 6: 30th Anniversary of the release of Tetris

June 8: 65th Anniversary publishing of “1984”

June 16: Bloomsday / Celebration of James Joyce

June 28: Tau Day (for detractors of Pi Day)



July 3: Franz Kafka’s birthday

July 3: Li Shizhen’s birthday

July 4: Nathaniel Hawthorne’s birthday

July 10: Nikola Tesla’s birthday

July 12: Henry David Thoreau’s birthday

July 12: Pablo Neruda’s birthday

July 21: Ernest Hemingway’s 115th birthday

July 29: 60th Anniversary of publication of Lord of the Rings



August: National Inventors month

August 1: Anniversary of the first Comic-Con

August 9: P.L. Travers’s birthday (And 2014 is the 80th Anniversary of Mary Poppins)

August 12: Erwin Schrodinger’s birthday

August 13: International Left Handers Day

August 25: 405th anniversary of Galileo’s first telescope demonstration



September 13: Programmers Day

September 13: Roald Dahl’s birthday

September 17: 60th Anniversary of publication of Lord of the Flies

September 17th: Constitution Day

September 22: 50th Anniversary of Opening of Fiddler on the Roof

September 24: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s birthday

September 25: Shel Silverstein’s birthday

September 28: Ask a Stupid Question Day



October 7: Anniversary of the invention (patent) of the bar code

October 13: “International” Skeptics Day

October 15: Friedrich Nietzsche’s Birthday

October 16: Dictionary Day,  Noah Webster’s birthday

October 16: Oscar Wilde’s Birthday

October 24: United Nations Day

October 28: 100th birthday of Jonas Salk, inventor of Polio vaccine

October 18: Anniversary of the publication of Moby Dick



November 6: Chinua Achebe’s birthday

November 7: Albert Camus’s birthday

November 8: Bram Stoker’s birthday

November 9: 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall

November 10: 45th anniversary of Sesame Street

November 11: Fyodor Dostoevsky’s birthday

November 13: 5th Anniversary of the discovery of water on the moon

November 22: Evolution Day

November 26: Anniversary of the publication of Alice in Wonderland

November 30: Mark Twain’s birthday



December 1: Anniversary of the first business school (ESCP Europe was established)

December 10: Human Rights Day

December 21: Anniversary of the first crossword puzzle

December 7: Letter Writing Day

December 9: Grace Hopper’s birthday


TIP: In addition to these, we suggest asking professors with specific expertise if there are any important dates their fields that they could speak to.

Photo: Creative Commons / joelanman.

How to Go Viral on YouTube: Two Duke students share the secrets of their success

This article originally appeared in Duke Today. Story by David Jarmul. 

Move quickly. Be entertaining. Pay attention to what actually works online.

Those were some of the suggestions Thursday morning from two Duke students whose videos have “gone viral” on YouTube. They shared their experiences with campus communicators who manage some of the university’s busiest social media sites.

Rachael Nedrow, a first-year student from Oregon, has produced videos viewed more than 24 million times on YouTube showing her stacking cups at record speed. Jacob Tobia, a senior from North Carolina, has produced several popular videos on political and social issues, most recently in support of Nina Davuluri, the Indian-American woman whose victory in the Miss America pageant elicited racist comments online.

“People find me more intriguing when I’m really hyper and excited,” said Nedrow, who tries to keep her public identity as “speedstackinggirl” separate from her personal life. Her videos have been featured on numerous websites and TV shows, including Tosh.0 and America’s Got Talent. She has her own channel on YouTube.


Students, faculty and others who want to succeed online need to meet the medium on its own terms, she said, arguing that “it’s just a matter of getting comfortable with a camera.” Nedrow views herself as an old-timer in the world of sport stacking, saying “most of the really good stackers are 11 years old and I’m 18, so …”

Tobia said he produced and uploaded his video in support of Miss America with several other Duke students in just a few hours. It has now been viewed thousands of times online and sparked a Twitter campaign called #standwithnina. Davuluri welcomed the campaign and thanked the Duke students when she appeared on CNN, Bloomberg and other news outlets.


In 2012, Tobia produced a video describing how he planned to run across the Brooklyn Bridge in stiletto heels to raise money for a homeless shelter for LGBT youth. More than 10,000 people watched “Run for Shelter 2012,” which led to both donations and news coverage. In an earlier video, Tobia and fellow student Dominique Beaudry urged opposition to Amendment One, the subsequently passed North Carolina law that bans same-sex marriages.

“One thing I’ve learned as an activist is how you get people’s attention and get them invested in what you’re doing,” Tobia told the Duke communicators, who oversee the university’s main Facebook and Twitter sites and social media activities in Admissions, Athletics and other campus offices. “I’m really interested in taking social justice issues and blowing them up online.”

Tobia said speed is critical when responding to breaking stories such as the controversy involving Miss America. “I knew she would only be in the news cycle for one more day, or two if we were lucky. You have to get things out really, really, really quickly.”

Tobia said he has drawn on his theater background in the videos and has learned video editing fairly easily. He hopes more Duke students will produce and upload their own videos, whether on social issues or other interests, and urged them to share their best work with campus communicators who can help them reach wider audiences.

Cara Rousseau, Duke’s social media manager, led the discussion. Duke’s social media siteprovides additional information about the university’s online activities.

[UPDATE] One Day At Duke: All Day, All Duke, All You

OneDayAtDuke Rain Date New Text Assets_Facebook Event

[UPDATE] This event was originally scheduled for April 5th, but has been rescheduled to Friday, April 19th due to weather.

APRIL 19th, 2013: Be A Part of Duke’s Next TV Spot!

We’re crowd-sourcing Duke’s next 30-second TV commercial and we need your help.

On Friday, April 19 we’re inviting students, faculty, staff, alumni—you name it—to capture photos, videos, tweets and status updates using the hashtag #OneDayAtDuke to depict one day as a member of the Duke community.

Your visions will become part of a special One Day at Duke website and will have a shot at being included in the 30-second TV spot we show at football and basketball games.

Learn more on, and join the Facebook event. See you all April 19th!

Join us for One Day At Duke!

Duke Chats During The State Of The Union

The Duke community  joined a Twitter chat during President Obama’s “State of the Union” address last night.

Several faculty and students participated in the chat, tweeting their reactions to the president’s speech using the hashtag #DukeChat. The chats provide an opportunity to have a “public classroom” about issues in real time. We had a ton of conversation. In fact, as of noon on Wednesday, Feb. 13, #DukeChat is still trending in Raleigh, NC on Twitter.

Twitter _ Search - #DukeChat-2

We had some fun promoting the chat on Facebook and posted a nifty State of the Union bingo graphic (credits to Jonathan Lee, Office of News and Communications).



And, here are some of our social media team’s favorite tweets from #DukeChat:







Check out the Twitter chat in its entirety here.

Duke’s Office of News and Communications has hosted a few politics-based twitter chats within the past year, including during the January 2012 “State of the Union” address and, last fall, during the presidential debates and both the Republican and Democrat conventions.


Duke’s 2013 Social Media Roundup

For our most recent Duke Communicators event, I organized a fun tour of what’s happening across our community in social media.

At our 2013 Social Media Roundup, my colleagues described how they are using social media to promote bloggers, share photos, reach new international audiences and much more. Each person spoke for five minutes, in a format similar to an Ignite session. Hopefully the Duke Communicators group walked away with lots of new ideas to try, as well as with information about colleagues to call for inspiration and advice.

Our presenters were:

Laura Brinn, Global Communications

Debbe Geiger, Duke University Medical Center

Wendy Livingston and J. Caldwell, Nasher Museum of Art

Orla Swift, Sarah P. Duke Gardens

Aaron Welborn, Duke Libraries

Ashley Wolf, Duke Athletics

(Tawnee Milko with the Nicholas School of the Environment was unable to make the presentation and her slides are at the end of the slide deck.)

You can view our entire slide deck from the event here.

What would you like to see at our next Social Media Roundup?

Library Answer Person Trending

Those of us who work in marketing, public relations and the social media world spend a lot of time talking about – and thinking about – how to make our digital media viral. We know how hard it is to have a topic trend on Twitter or to create a overnight video success on YouTube, but we keep fighting the good fight. We make stellar content, promote it heavily and cross our fingers for a little good luck and timing.

Duke University Library’s Answer Person blog recently stumbled on the recipe to go viral, when a 2004 blog post on the difference between payroll and income tax received over 20,000 hits last week. Read more about how it happened here.