VidCon, the world’s pre-eminent conference for creators and fans of online video, came to Australia for the first time this year. 6,000 people attended the two-day event at the Melbourne Convention Centre on a spring Melbourne weekend in September. I wanted to share a few of my key outtakes/moments with you.
Fans Unlike Any Other
You have not met a fan like the ones you’ll find at VidCon. They’re not like your typical sport or music fan. They are a unique breed of eccentrics, hackers, tinkerers, photographers, creators and non-conformists. The internet and social media has allowed them to express themselves in their own unique ways. They find role models and form close friendships through YouTube and their favourite way to socialise with others is on forums and instant messages.
Keep in mind, the fans that go to VidCon are just a segment of the ‘Influencer’ audience – but the ones who attended and bought tickets are the most dedicated.
A Truly Enthralled Audience
The dedicated fans that turned up to VidCon are truly engaged. You could recognise a session with particularly high calibre content or YouTuber star power by the epic lines formed half an hour before doors opened to rooms often already at capacity. There would often be Q&As at the end of some sessions, and at this point lines of fans would quickly form as young hopefuls strove for a chance to speak to their idols.
One particularly cool moment was a group of attendees waiting outside a session to do with making music YouTube videos. You could tell it was a musically inclined session by the amount of people with ukuleles sitting in front of the room. At one point a circle formed and several ukuleles could be heard playing ‘But I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You’. Before long, the voices of the crowd joined in – in a ‘kumbaya’ fireplace moment. It was a genuinely heart-warming vibe.
You can see why exactly these fans are fans. The people we now appropriately refer to as ‘influencers’ have built a cult following through channelling their passions via social media. From eccentric vloggers, obsessed gamers, beauty queens, shot machines, scientists and cooks – these creators are just as unique as their fans. They are multi-skilled, multi-talented creatives who obsess over their chosen fields of interest.
VidCon is a great way to be immersed in the world of digital influencers – from fans, creators, to key industry people. It really is a unique gathering of perspectives that provoke a lot of thought. Hearing from different creators, there was a common theme emerging. It was that there is still not a lot of knowledge on how brands work with influencers. Influencers know their content – and their audience – back to front, but when they speak about integrating brands things can get a little foggy. A lot of influencers have had negative brand experiences. This was a little surprising to me – and disappointing – especially in this digital day and age. Although influencers wield great audience power and potential it was clear that there is still work to be done. Through continuing education, process improvement and collaboration a successful and positive outcome can be the standard. Even more so, it should be expected.
Bring on VidCon Australia in 2018. After selling out in 2017, I have no doubt it will return to our shores even bigger and better!
John Principe is the Creative Strategist at Emotive.