Jerome Jarre, Shaun McBride and Chris Carmichael have become the world’s first Snapchat stars. The trio is a viral sensation with a total of nearly 2 million fans earning six-figure paychecks from brands that are trying to build a staying audience on a disappearing medium.
Fans of the social media personalities recently tried to take pictures of them in New York as the men darted around Whole Foods shooting pictures for a Snapchat Story. One fan told Time, “Before this, I didn’t know you could have followers on Snapchat and create stories, I thought you just used it to take selfies and send funny things to friends.”
In October, Snapchat introduced a story feature that encourages users to create narratives that last for 24 hours and can be shared with everyone. Like Instagram and Vine, Snapchat is becoming a sought-after platform for businesses.
Brands are private about how much they are paying popular Snapchatters. But two Snapchat users told Time that the platform’s top stars earn anywhere from $1,500 a day to more than $100,000 per week, which is in line with what people are making on Vine and Instagram.
Advertisers have sent popular Instagramers on trips around the world to Instagram events from their accounts, and one Vine user told Business Insider that a Vine ad campaign paid off his college tuition.
The 24-year-old Jarre told Time that Snapchat is building his portfolio from 6-second videos to 2-minute narratives and is the “most viral platform ever because people need to screen shot, share and talk to their friends.” Jarre creates goofy stories that end with a positive message.
Jarre was already reaching 6 million followers on Vine when he made the switch to Snapchat last month and amassed 1.3 million followers in a matter of weeks.
McBride’s following, according to Jarre, is due to the platform’s “insane word-of-mouth power.” From Time:
Shaun McBride, whose “Shonduras” Snapchat account has more than 140,000 followers, is known by brands, social media celebrities and agencies as a Snapchat pioneer. The 27-year-old snowboard sales rep from Ogden, Utah is a self-proclaimed member of the “Facebook generation,” and he didn’t have a social media presence at all until his six sisters, who are in high school and therefore Snapchat’s key demographic, pressured him into making a Snapchat account in November.
McBride uses Snapchat tools to finger doodle over silly pictures of ordinary objects transformed into extraordinary images such as his dogs-turned-Disney-princesses series, which get hundreds of screenshots.
McBride says that when he would send out prompts to followers, asking them to send in a picture of a quarter in exchange for a personalized drawing, “Thousands of people sent me pictures of quarters. I spent the whole day snapping them back because I didn’t want to be rude. I was like, is this for realz?”
McBride expects to make more this month than he did last year in his regular job.
The Secret to Engagement
Unlike Facebook and Twitter, Snapchat is not concerned with numbers of friends, followers or likes. Brands including Taco Bell and Disney reached out to McBride once he started saving copies of his work on other social media platforms.
As Time noted, “That’s one of the ironies of Snapchat celebrity: It depends on screengrabs from other social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter.” Carmichael, whose Snapchat name is ChrisCarm, “keeps a Tumblr to showcase his comic book-esque Snapchat stories, which often end on cliffhangers.”
Marketing manager at Chubbies Molly Mitchell used Instagram to chronicle the Snapchats of her relationship with a fictitious boyfriend (often doodled in next to Mitchell in various daily scenarios). The result was brief celebrity on Snapchat.
Mitchell told Time, “Snapchat is the hipster of the social media world. It’s elusive and you need someone else’s commonplace app to purvey its content.”
Snapchat users are collaborating on projects to determine how to engage fans on the young medium. McBride, for example, worked with Boston-based Michael Platco to send followers disappearing photos of the two men boxing with doodled-on red gloves. Fans could influence the matches by Snapchatting who they wanted to win. According to Time:
Shortly after the boxing match, which ended in a draw, Disney flew McBride to Disneyland and Platco to Disneyworld to simultaneously launch the theme parks’ Snapchat accounts in their first-ever paid Snapchat gigs. Since then, Platco has worked with food site GrubHub and “Harry Potter” fan site MuggleNet. (He is very active in the Snapchat-Harry Potter market, which does, in fact, exist).
Snapchat prowess has also led to full-time office jobs. Dasha Battelle (Snapchat name: dabttll) is known for her stylus-free, intricate artwork, which helped land her a job on Mashable’s visual storytelling team.
Social media advisor Gary Vaynerchuk told Time that discounting Snapchat’s disappearing messages is shortsighted: “Why anybody thought that a disappearing piece of content isn’t valuable is insane to me,” he said. “Last time I checked, when I’m listening to a car commercial on Z100, that sh-t disappeared.”