Biggest and Most Organized Online-Video & YouTube Community Event

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.

Today is “Project for Awesome,” so Watch for Nerfighters Reducing “World Suck”

Today, December 17, is the third-annual “Project for Awesome,” where thousands of Nerdfighters will be using online-video to “reduce world suck.”

Even if you understood nothing in the headline or lead, I encourage you to keep reading because you’ll learn a lot about online-video through this story.

Project for awesome 2009 logo

John and Hank Green were brothers who lost contact over the years, and decided to change that through daily vlogs to each other (which they posted for the rest of the world as Vlogbrothers). I find myself increasingly frustrated with people in online video that don’t know their name… and give them the look of disgust you get from a sports enthusiast when you say “I hope Tiger Ruth helps the New Orleans Rangers make it to the Superbowl.”

Unlike other popular online video creators, the vlogbrothers put their loyal viewers, ideals, intellect and charity above themselves. This has created a genuine fan base of people (we call ourselves Nerdfighters), who would pretty much do whatever the Green brothers asked unless it involved hurting small animals. We’re bonded on the pursuit of increasing awesome and decreasing suck. After all a good planet is equal to awesome less suck (put mathematically, that’s GP=A-S). In my opinion, increasing awesome is easier that decreasing suck. It’s easier to bond around a cause than a complaint.

Today, like the two prior years, hundreds of video creators will make “Project for Awesome” videos to promote good causes (here’s mine, which is to promote awareness of autism). “We want to make the world a better place, and so we’re thanking people who have dedicated their lives to do that, and promoting their cause with our time and our money,” the brothers write on their website.

So here’s what to watch for today:

  • Hundreds of videos will be posted to YouTube with a specific thumbnail (icon).
  • Via Twitter (using hashtag #p4a), hundreds or thousands of people will be giving these videos “5 star” ratings, and commenting aggressively on them (to push them to most-discussed and most-viewed pages, which are as important as the homepage itself.
  • The team will be using a ProjectforAwesome Livestream to communicate as well.
  • As a result of this, many newer YouTube users will be perplexed, but then find themselves amused and perhaps compelled to participate.

Now let’s say your heart is made of ice, and you really don’t care about community or charity. What can you learn from this as a marketer? Well to keep it real, you’d unlikely be able to replicate this, because people tend not to rally around a brand or commercial effort like this.

But it does show the influence that a few people can have on a larger group (the YouTube “community” that is still vibrant), and in turn to a much wider audience of YouTube grazers (the rest of the world). Give people something to care about that’s bigger than your brand or you, and do something selfless (to help reduce world suck). That’s a noble cause, right? And maybe we’ll see major charities or brands tossing their hats in the ring this year or next.

VidCon: Community & Online-Video Industry Morphs in July 2010 Event

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.

youtube gathering july 2010 la vidcon

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.

Oprah Oprah Oprah Orah. Book the Vlogbrothers!

The Nerdfighters have spoken. We need our pioneers, our forefathers, our world desuckers… on Oprah. It’s a story beyond stories. Two brothers uniting a world via online video. It’s the highest altruistic use of social media. They’re fascinating. They draw, sing, write, perform, entertain. They’re the vlog brothers. And I’ve never seen so many comments as my initial post about them (except when I was giving away free cheese for the best comment).

The Day YouTube Died

Lots of buzz in the YouTube community about recent changes toward professional content, but this is perhaps the most profound. Here’s the vlogbrothers, backed by dozens of backup singers. It’s a version of “American Pie,” and it reflects on the potential of YouTube going professional.

This is the 7th highest rated video of the day (despite the Scottish lady, who really has gone a bit overboard), and it has nearly 2,000 comments.

If Google was to battle the Nerdfighters (who are rallied by vlogbrothers, and are on a mission to reduce world suck), then I’d have to put my money on the latter.

This comment from WVFF back row’s Jan was worth scraping from below and adding here: “relax a bit, take a deep breath then get active. Do colab crap like this, promote each other, read Kevin’s book, get organized. That’s what social networking is all about, right?

Project for Awesomeness Helps End World Suck: YouTube Features Nerdfighters

Project Awesome gets recognized by YouTube editorsThe Vlogbrothers (Hank and John) helped orchestrate another “Project Awesome,” and I’m sad I missed participating. This thumbnail collection (right) is a collection of “Project 4 Awesome” videos, which are featured on YouTube’s homepage. Individual creators recognized a charity of their choice to help “end world suck.”

While I’m glad to see YouTube editors recognize this powerful grassroots movement, I’m far more struck by the image I saw 2 days ago. The most popular and highest-rated videos of December 18 were those created as part of this program. 

The brothers didn’t need to feature the already popular Julia Nunes (Jaaaaaaa), but her “P4A/Office/Lupus” video was one of my favorites. First, I’m a huge fan. Second, you can see her sincerity and humility about asking viewers to help the Lupus foundation, even though a family member has Lupus. Third, she opens with the theme for my favorite television show since 1893 when TVs were invented. She’s going to knit a hat for the highest bidder on eBay (I awakened this morning, and grabbed my laptop, coffee and credit card… but alas, the bidding at $800 is past the Nalts price range). 

John and Hank aren’t just interesting video creators, but very purposeful, intelligent and passionate. John’s an author, Hank a musician and more. And their viewers, who proudly call themselves “nerdfighters,” rally not just around the brothers, but around the values they share… ending world suck and all.

Folks, this is social media at its finest, and so far from self promotion known by many on YouTube (including myself). However it makes these creators and channels more appealing. For instance, I’ve seen the Elevator Show and met Woody, but his appeal for MS made me realize he’s not just funny- but he has a heart. It prompted me to watch about 10 episodes of his show that I hadn’t yet seen.

It will be interesting to see how the “grazers” of YouTube (those who surf specific videos or scan the homepage) will respond… will they roll their eyes and return to hot babes and cats? Or will they help the Nerdfighters grow the army of awesomeness? 

Two closing thoughts:

  1. There’s a lesson here. Sincerity is contagious as negativity. 
  2. Kudos to this group, and those who participated by making videos or helping rate them to the top for greater awareness! Sorry I was not among you this year. Seems Alan forgot to remind me. 😉