Did you know that people deeply embedded in the YouTube community have regular gatherings in person? The events fetch crowds — ranging from a dozen to several hundred, depending on the location, timing and marketing of the event. It helps when you have a popular YouTube video creator announcing the event and convincing other widely-viewed attendees to promote and attend.
Lately YouTubers gathered in SanFrancisco, and there are countless events being scheduled around the U.S. and the world. I predict these gatherings will bifurcate into: small venues based on geography or interest (pockets of friends), and larger events that attract sponsors, media and a larger crowd. YouTube has yet to endorse an event, but often sends t-shirts and people from its community department.
There are three sites (at least) tracking these events.
- MrSafety (aka SMPfilms) put together one of the first gatherings, and his website is YouTubeGathering.com.
- Podcasting101‘s YouTubeMeetup (which is rather out of date and ugly, but robust).
- Then there’s the new TubeGathering site by TrueBlueAustralian and ZenArcher.
Does the YouTube community need three sites to coordinate physical meetups?
Probably not. But they’re each addressing the community’s desires in different ways. The winning site will be the one that allows community members to announce their own events and connect without manual work by the site owner. It’s too hard to keep on top of various events, which are likely to shrink in size but increase in frequency. Although MrSafety’s site has a strong chance because he led the first large gathering, it’s more of a vanity site with manual publishing. His raving fans will take their guidance from him, and he knows how to throw a party. Others, however, feel like his persona overshadows the essence of the event, and he’s started to notice this backlash. Initially he was rather insistent that there be a primary organizer, sponsors, and permits. Others like the simplicity of announcing a location and date , and letting the rest happen organically (like Pipistrello and this “Yo’Tube” Philadelphia gathering). In fairness to MrSafety, he had a bit of an awakening and even had guests assemble this montage of the recent event.
I like some of YouTubeMeetup’s advanced functionality, but Paul’s a technologist first so the user experience is somewhat daunting and confusing. TubeGathering, if better publicized, seems like a the natural winner. It’s powered by free community software (Simple Machines Forum, SMF), so it’s going to be easy to have the community maintain it. It’s not an ego site, and the interface is simple and eye appealing.
Time will tell. One thing’s for sure. While the physical gatherings are fantastic experiences, the people that attend these represent a small fraction of the “YouTube Community,” which itself is probably 5-10,000 active people.
This is a closely knit but tiny portion of YouTube visitors in general, and that becomes clear when you see the view stats on any video about the gatherings. For example, MrSafety has about 66,000 subscribers and gets views ranging from 50K to 200K on most of his videos. But his video announcing the gathering was one of his lowest performers lately (about 30K views as shown in this photo).
To further exhibit this point, this blog post will likely generate a lot of comments, but a very small percentage of WVFF readers will actually care about this. Do you? 🙂