I spent 3 days with teens' favorite social media stars and now I'm convinced that you don't need YouTube to be internet famous
Tom Vickers/MOVI Inc
- VidCon, a three-day conference celebrating online video and its top creators, was held this past weekend and attracted an estimated 75,000 attendees.
- At the event, creators from YouTube, TikTok, and other platforms spoke on panels ranging from food vlogging to ASMR to LGBTQ activism.
- Although YouTube historically reigns supreme in online video, creators are now vying for space and virality in new video formats on alternative platforms - and are finding success.
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ANAHEIM, CA - More than 75,000 people this weekend traveled to Anaheim Convention Center in California for VidCon, a three-day conference covering the wild world of online video and its top creators.
Some of Generation Z's most-admired celebrities, including David Dobrik, Emma Chamberlain, and Joey Graceffa, were in attendance.
Now in its 10th year, VidCon originally launched to showcase an industry that strictly comprised YouTubers in 2010. But in 2019, VidCon offered aspiring creators, industry insiders, and fans the chance to attend events spanning a number of other platforms where videos are consumed: TikTok, Snapchat, Twitch, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and even LinkedIn.
"These verticals are springing up that are super interesting and creative," VidCon general manager Jim Louderback told Business Insider. "There are these new mediums and new canvases that creators can be in, and they're here figuring it out, right now, in real-time."
No less than a dozen online creators who spoke to Business Insider this past week had the same piece of advice for aspiring YouTubers, TikTokers, and Instagrammers: "Be authentic."
With more platforms getting the influencer treatment, creators are finding new ways, and new places, to be the authentic selves that they encourage. YouTube, once considered new-age, is now the dominant platform everyone is familiar with, and that means many are turning to rival platforms for their chance to get discovered.
YouTube did not respond to Business Insider's request for comment.
Paige Leskin/Business Insider
Paige Leskin/Business Insider
More and more up-and-coming creators are now getting their start on apps like short-form-video platform TikTok.
One of those examples is a pair of 20-something brothers from Aruba: Gilmher and Jayden Croes. A few years ago, life for the Croes brothers was "pure and simple," they told Business Insider. Then, in 2015, the Croes brothers found their fame when a few of their lip-syncing videos were picked up on TikTok's featured homepage and went viral. Now, they're two of the most popular stars on TikTok - Jayden, 20, has 15.7 million followers, and Gilmher, 26, has 18.1 million.
"Our content was really simple ... somehow, it worked," Gilmher Croes told Business Insider. "It's very easy to create (on TikTok). If there's a hashtag trending, everyone can jump in on that."
Although posting to TikTok doesn't guarantee virality, it does mean that the potential for internet fame can be as simple as a 15-second video, while YouTube's built-in algorithm favors longer clips. Even the content on YouTube has come a long way, turning from cat videos that dominated the platform 10 years ago to professionally edited viral challenges and intricate pranks.
More platforms means more creators, the people producing videos and memes for seemingly any and every kind of audience. This year, VidCon featured panels for creators who duplicate iconic foods and meals, pairs of twin creators, those who produce ASMR content, and the humans behind viral pet stars.
Even the most "niche" panels garnered attention from teens attending VidCon, many traveling miles with chaperones in tow to catch their favorite creators. For 13-year-old Sierra, she waited all day for a question-and-answer session with Irish video-gamer Jacksepticeye. Her friend Parker, a 15-year-old who sported a pride flag as a cape, said the highlight of their VidCon was a panel with LGBTQ activists.
"I've wanted to come ever since I first watched YouTube. You don't know who you're going to see, or what you're going to see," Sierra told Business Insider. "Usually, only online they get the recognition they deserve."
Tom Vickers/MOVI Inc
Some fans stood in line for hours for coveted meet-and-greets with their favorite creators. Security around the event was tight: Featured creators weren't allowed on the main floor of VidCon without a security escort, for fear of producing an uncontrollable mob of screaming fans and mayhem.
"Every time I go to schools, the most said thing from 90% of kids is, 'I want to be a YouTuber.' They want to be social media stars," said DeStorm Power, a YouTuber who has been invited to VidCon since the first one in 2010. "You've got to understand, these are their stars. How would you react if you saw Mariah Carey?"
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