There are loads of social media events, and many YouTube “community gatherings,” meetups and online video events. But the “South By Southwest” of online-video and YouTube is indisputably VidCon. Organized by Hank and John Green (vlogbrothers), the event in 2010 drew hundreds of community members, top “YouTube Stars,” and Nerdfighters (the active people who rally to reduce the world of “suck”). It also included lots of on-stage entertainment that was shared widely online. VidCon 2011 is planned for July 28-30 in San Francisco, California. Early bird discount if you book before Jan. 10, and the hotel is Hyatt Regency Central Plaza.
Here are some highlights of 2010’s VidCon to give you a flavor. It’s focused on viewers and creators, but does attract industry folks and marketers (and has a special industry track). Unlike some popular YouTube love-festivals where “big YouTubers” are VIP, this one is quite egalitarian.
What’s clear to me is that it’s time to narrow not broaden the scope of “social media” conferences, and start niching into either industries, medium (blogs/video), function (PR, advertising, marketing, journalism) or specific regions. I can’t envision 500 national cross-industry internet marketing conferences in 2011, can you?
I’m staring at this list and about each event I’m thinking:
“This could be the best place to network, stay current, share my goods.”
And simultaneously thinking, “this is going to be one of those awkward events with a vendor/buyer ratio of 39:1, 11 non-English speakers in each breakout room, and I’ll literally get dumber by the minute listening to some newly self-appointed social media expert.”
Perhaps I’ll just stay in a local hotel and read the Stupidest Article About Social Media ever. Hey maybe it’s time for a rewrite of this year-old piece of poetry. (Checks article). Nope, it’s all still perfectly accurate and useless.
Some of the most-viewed YouTube “weblebrities” will gather with hundreds of people in the YouTube community, including video creators and viewers, professionals and stalkers.
The event — called VidCon 2010 and scheduled for July 9-11 — includes rapid-fire stage performances by some of YouTube’s biggest “stars,” including comedy duo Anthony Pedilla and Ian Hecox (“Smosh“), “What The Buck” host Michael Buckley, Phil DeFranco, “SxePhil” and “Like Totally Awesome” host, and Justine Ezarik, YouTube’s token popular hot girl who hails as iJustine (and author of Tasty Blog Snack). Those 5 people alone, mind you, have been seen collectively 1 billion times (if you count both videos on their individual channels, as well as on group channels like TheStation). For those of you not good at math, that’s “an assload” and more views than most television shows.
Back to VidCon: What’s got me most excited are performanced by some of the most talented musicians on YouTube, including the advertainment song duo of Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal (Rhett and Link), the ukulele-playing singer Julia Nunes (know as j and seven a’s), and the cerebral guitarist Hank Green, who is the event’s mastermind. I’m also looking forward to seeing Joe Penna (TheMysteryGuitarMan aka MGM), who wrote the “Nalts, Nalts, It’s Not His Fault” theme song. He’s been on a magical high lately, and he’s eye and ear candy for the whole family (see his recent “Looping Around,” a song that’s almost passing 1 million views, and what my family calls “The Happy Song”).
Although I haven’t hit all of the major YouTube grassroots events, I have gathered with fellow YouTube fanatics in NYC (twice), London, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta. A nude female doll with my face has attended other events, and was no doubt far more interesting to meet. The only formal event YouTube has thrown, to my knowledge, was November 2008’s YouTube Live… a show the San Bruno company doesn’t appear to be reviving.
We’ll also see the omnipresent Charles Trippy and Alli Speed, who have documented their each day for a year. Trippy somehow doesn’t have a Wikipedia page, which I find highly suspicious. ZeFrank is also going, and will appear on a panel with other Internet has-beens like me.
This video shows Hank Green (with his lesser known 3rd Green brother) announcing VidCon, taking place July 9-11, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. Here’s the official VidCon website.
For those of you familiar with the Vlogbrothers (John and Hank Green), I don’t need to tell you what an enormous connection they have with the vibrant and growing community of online-video. They’re funny, smart, and selfless; this week they’ll be orchestrating another “Project for Awesome,” where they encourage fellow video creators to make a video about a charity… to “reduce world suck.”
So it wasn’t surprising that they’ve attracted the “Who’s Who” of online video… literally the most-viewed and most-subscribed video creators of YouTube and beyond. Also- if you know Hank and John, you’ll know that the admission price is to cover costs, and proceeds are for charity. These guys aren’t interested in making money, but these events cost a lot to do well. So I’ve got little sympathy for those few dozen people who feel a price tag is “anti-community, man”- sing that tune to your waitress at IHOP, kids.
For you online-video industry people who are less familiar with the community side, I have one piece of advice. Attend. If I could only attend one conference this year, it would be this one.
There will be a series of professional tracks covering advertising, marketing and production. But of course you can see the “brains” of online video at any conference. This one you’ll see the brain and the heart. And you really don’t know online-video until you’ve seen the heart… watched the most-viewed amateurs interacting with the fans… seen the groundswell of enthusiasm about a medium that’s changing people’s lives… see the friendships among the talented people (and me).
The informal YouTube gatherings — like 7/7/7 — have brought hundreds and even thousands together in various cities, but this one’s actually organized and planned. So it’s likely to be a huge event. Book your hotel early, friends.
If you’re interested in speaking slots, panels or sponsorships (imagine how many videos your logo can show up on, and how many millions of times it will be seen), let Hank know or shoot me a note (I’m volunteering to help on the professional side). Much of that will be formalized by the end of January. In the mean time, follow VidCon on Twitter.