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Brands Rush to Sign the Latest Social Media Stars as Ambassadors

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Hundreds of young people with a bit of time on their hands are now moving to turn their mastery of social media into legitimate careers with backing from big brands–and The New York Times is ON IT.

A couple of stories this weekend highlighted the ways in which these social artisans have begun turning their Vines and YouTubes into cold, hard cash–while helping some businesses stay relevant with core demos in the process.

First came this “so you think you can Vine” report on startup event planning agencies turning young “stars” into concert draws. It’s quite a fascinating read, really: in short, these guys (and they’re almost all guys) are basically the new Biebers. They attract tween girls who will pay top dollar just to see them in person as they act out short skits based on their social personas; the average event includes dozens of them.

Here’s your money quote from a dude who seems to specialize in pulling up his shirt to expose his abs while taking selfies:

“I’m kind of shocked anyone wants to meet me. I like to say that we’re talented in that we have no talent.”

He’s self-aware! Of course, brands are too. Here’s one promo mentioned in Jenna Wortham‘s follow-up piece on said brands finding and hiring social names as professional ambassadors:

Wortham notes that young, scrappy entrepreneurs may receive “several thousand dollars” to produce promos like the one above. We’ve covered this phenomenon before; the future of content marketing does indeed seem to look a lot like Snapchat and its fellow super-short content networks.

Certain agencies have sprung up to specialize in this new field–the one Wortham profiles is appropriately called Niche. They offer clients a new twist on the traditional model, specializing in choosing the right people to represent the right brands. One of Niche’s founders even calls it a “native ad factory”; here’s a tumblr page highlighting recent Vine promos for the forthcoming film “Earth to Echo.”

There must be a loser in this equation, though…and it looks like traditional ad agencies are stuck playing that role. As a weekend AdAge headline put it:

Why Pay for Creative When Selfies Will Do?

On a barely related (but this is really cool) note, here’s the first Vine from space via astronaut Reid Wiseman:

We haven’t seen his abs or his follower count, but surely some brand could use this, no?

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