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Vine tips from the video-sharing app's most popular user

Source: Vine

Justin Bieber has the most followers on Twitter. Rihanna is the most popular person on Facebook. Nicholas Megalis has the most followers on Vine.

Wait, who?

That's exactly what Nicholas Megalis asks these days when he wakes up in his Brooklyn apartment each morning, pinching himself to make sure that he is in fact the most popular user on Vine. With more than 1.6 million followers on Twitter's video-sharing app, Megalis, an emerging musician and artist, has become nothing short of a social media rock star, one six-second clip at a time. A true sign of his popularity: he was the first Vine user to hit 1 million likes on a single post.

Megalis's Vines often feature him singing to a catchy tune while performing a random act inside his apartment or out and about on the streets of New York.

Sitting down at a Manhattan coffee shop recently, Megalis shared tips for brands and other users, as well as his overall thoughts on Vine.

It isn't too late to join: Megalis said he didn't join the app in January 2013 when it was first released. "I started in March. I remember friends of mine were telling me about Vine," he recalls. "I saw some tweets with Vines in them and I had no idea what it was. ... I had no idea it was a social network. I thought it was just a video-creating app."

Four months later? It's a completely different story. "There are a lot of people on Vine doing incredible things," Megalis said, "because you could do whatever you want on there. We're just doing what we do anyway and applying it to this app. It's video art. There are so many amazing artists [using it]."

Advice to business brands using Vine: "You need to have fun and be creative," Megalis advises. "Know that your audience is smart and respect them. The more you treat people like friends and the more you respect your audience and know who they are, the better your entire experience will be."

How would the social media star grade the businesses that are now using Vine?

"A lot of brands and large corporations are clueless dinosaurs who don't have any connection to the consumer," Megalis says. "I think the consumer should be treated like a human being. If you're going to make a Vine for a company, it can't be an ad—it has to be a Vine. It has to exist as something that's rewatchable, fun and exciting. It can't just be a bland, soulless commercial."

Megalis says brands should remember that Vine users aren't a Macintosh computer or Siri. "These are real people clicking 'Like,' he says. "These are smart, young people who love to have fun. Companies should be on Vine now because it sort of strips down advertisements and puts it in the hands of the people. Vine is like a big sandbox where you can create things and get feedback on them instantly. Companies should know advertising is in the hands of the people now. Ads can't just be ads, they've gotta be pieces of art."

If Megalis was approached by a company to take control of its account or to create a sponsored post on his own account for a fee, would he entertain the thought?

"If it's something that I respect and makes sense with my personal life, yeah...I wouldn't be opposed to working with a company like that, but it has to be cool, man," he says. "It has to be something that I like."

How often should a user post to Vine? "I don't feel like anybody has to do anything they don't want to do," Megalis says. "I think the reason I like Vine so much is because it is experimentation. Some days I feel like I'll be inspired more so [than] on other days, and some days I'll really, really need to Vine an ice cream truck twice or three times. I like excitement and anticipation, and I like to excite and surprise people. I think people will anticipate something if it's not as frequent. If it is once a day, they'll look forward to it almost like they'll look forward to their favorite show."

Keeping it clean: While some of Vine's most followed users are known to share profanity and risque content, Megalis's Vines are, for the most part, clean and suitable for kids.

"I think it's just who I am, Megalis says. "The reality is that there are children on Vine, and there are a lot of children who have reached out to me and appreciated it. I sort of feel like there's no need for me...to be overtly obscene just for the sake of being obscene. If it has something to do with the piece and has something to do with the work, then maybe that's a different story."

Megalis says he babysits a 9-year-old boy in his free time and that the child watches Vine obsessively.

"He and his friends sit around and watch Vine and watch YouTube. There are a lot of kids on there. I just don't think you need to be dirty. If you have to be dirty to be funny, then maybe that's you, but everybody does something different."

Vine's untouchable feature: "I've met a lot of people that I would consider my friends now through this social network," Megalis says. "It's never been like that with Facebook or Twitter. I think Vine is very honest and it's very real. There's not much hiding. I feel like I know the people, just like when you came in here and said, 'I feel like I know you.' It's because you see my face every day."

Re-Vining: Would Megalis not revine (reshare) another user's post for fear of making someone else more popular than he is?

"I have no problem with it," Megalis says. "I think we all have to help each other out. If I genuinely like something, I think it would be selfish for me not to share it with the world.

Megalis compares it to a situation where someone finds a great-but-unknown band.

"Why wouldn't you tell your friends about this band you just discovered? Don't you want that band to succeed? I think we all need to help each other out. I feel like others would do the same things for me. The bottom line is we are all in this together—Vine is a community; nobody is above anybody so numbers don't mean anything. If your content is fantastic, I want people to see it."

Undo feature: Currently, if you record video on Vine, the only way to delete the shot is if you delete the recording entirely. Make a mistake in the filming process and you're back to square one.

Would Megalis want to have the ability to undo a small hiccup without having to start again?

"I do not like the idea of additional editing being done on a video other than you stopping or starting it," Megalis says. "I think the magic of Vine is that it is what it is and I'd be comfortable and happy if they never introduced another feature ever again because I love the limitation. I really do. It forces me to think logically and to be more creative. Knowing that I can't get a shot again makes it way more precious to me. Have I lost hours and hours and hours of work because I can't edit? Yes. I think that's part of why I like it."

Instagram Video vs. Vine: What does Megalis think of Instagram's video feature, which many claim was added because of Vine's growing popularity?

"Maybe they were influenced by Vine ... but it's cool in its own way and totally different than Vine," he says. "I am on Instagram, and picking up in terms of followers because of Vine. People are interested to see what other networks I am on."

Megalis, who hopes to release a record soon, says he is interested in a lot of different areas of music and art, and Vine has opened up other things for him.

"It has brought people over to my Facebook page, Twitter, and YouTube channel, where I plan on doing music videos and short films. I believe Vine is an incredible launch pad and the most powerful tool for communicators to come along in my lifetime, especially visual communicators. I feel like I'm building a rocket with the help of a million people. Vine is an amazing launch pad for the rocket."

Bye-bye, Vine? Because Vine is helping Megalis launch his own rocket, what would he do if Twitter announced tomorrow that it's closing down the video-sharing app?

"I cry. Oh, I cry. I curl up with Häagen-Dazs and I cry," Megalis jokes.

"Seriously though, I'd be very upset," Megalis says. "Vine is a community. I feel like I've met some important friends and people who I consider important in my life now, so losing that community would be very hard for me. It is also a very important creative daily outlet for me...I found my people using Vine, so don't take my people away from me, man."

Summing up Vine: "There are a lot of people on Vine doing incredible things," Megalis says. "We're just doing what we do anyway and applying it to this app."

Megalis quotes a friend who says, "You're forever doomed to view all moments of your natural life as potential Vines." No problem, Megalis says. With a short attention span, he views things in six-second moments anyway. "I'll be like, 'Oh, look at that guy's amazing beard. That's the most amazing...' and I'm onto the next thing."

Before Megalis leaves the coffee shop, he talks about the moment that propelled him into stardom.

"When a Vine of mine was placed in the app's Editor's Picks section, I was so excited. I cried. I called my mom. My mom is on Vine, too. She said, 'Nick, you should take that down. It looks bad.' My mom is my biggest fan and my biggest critic. She's the best. She gets into little debates in my comment sections. My mom will say 'I love you, Nick. I miss you,' and someone will say, 'Yeah right, like you're his mom.' My mom will go, 'I AM his mom.'


—Written by CNBC's Eli Langer. Follow him on Twitter at @EliLanger.


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