VidCon 2014 is already gearing up to be a fantastic year for observing and hearing firsthand the stories of how to succeed as a brand in the current video ecosystem. Whether that be as a video brand like What’s Trending, and Rooster Teeth, or a company like OraBrush who is using online video to propel their products, VidCon is the place to learn about and apply successes from those who came first.
Community Building Crucial for Brand Success
Industry day kicked off with an amazing keynote address that featured a who’s who of industry CEOs but one that really stuck out for me was Bernie Burns from Rooster Teeth. His talk on building a fan base struck all the right cords with me. His big secret for online success is, “engagement with the audience and community building”. It is this community that in the end will become the biggest supporter of a product and propel it forward. They currently have just over 25 thousand funders on an Indiegogo project for a feature length movie that has raised over $1.7 million in support of it. So while all the metrics that help video creators prove their point are nice, Burns says the true value of a brand is in making a product that fires up a passionate community to support it.
Which Brands are Doing Video Right?
One great example of another company doing this, but with a product, is OraBrush. I had the opportunity to sit down with their CEO Jeff Davis at the Industry Reception and what they are doing in the online space is just remarkable. OraBrush is one of the few sponsors that has been around since the first VidCon, where they put up $10 thousand to help sponsor it. They have partnered with the likes of Rhett and Link, Tobuscus, Start Edge and Devin Supertramp in what their CEO calls a backwards marketing strategy, where online sales and marketing are used as the basis for building a brand.
Online advertising provided them the unique ability for constant feedback from their customers, with little to no investment. Rather than investing massive capital in products and advertising, this formula allowed Orabrush to tweak and redesign even the smallest features of their product, down to the color, using fan feedback given to them real-time. Once they applied that feedback, they were able to successfully launch in retail. They have applied that same model to Orapup, a bad breath curing tool for dogs, which is on track to become a larger success than Orabrush and are working to apply the same model to one of their newer products, Poo-Pourri, which is set to replace the traditional bathroom spray.
Lastly is What’s Trending, run by Shira Lazar and CEO Damon Berger. They have established themselves as the destination for the biggest influencers on YouTube and social media.
It is this relationship with fans and creators alike that has helped them to renew their relationship with Samsung into 2015 and expanded it to include not only sponsorship for their own content, but afforded them the opportunity to manage the Samsung US YouTube channel. Samsung Electronics North America Director of Digital Engagement Matthew Moller, said:
Samsung is proud to support Vidcon and the content creators who are attending this year, and we’re especially excited to share in this support with such a valued partner as What’s Trending. We look forward to paving new paths in social and online channels together.
Rooster Teeth, Orabrush, and What's Trending are are just three of the success stories that abound at VidCon, but they all hinge on the same thing, connecting with passionate fans around a common goal. Whether that be videos or a product, one cannot overstate the value of creating something of value for customers and connecting with them in meaningful ways that allows a business to work hand in hand with the very people who love the product and succeed together.
VidCon 2014: Two Conferences in One
Something interesting has started to happen with VidCon and it is both beautiful and startling at the same time. There are actually two conferences going on here. This year it is more apparent than ever and I’m not necessarily talking about the community track vs. the industry track. VidCon has become two distinct, yet mixed conferences due to the very nature of YouTube.
There is one group of attendees that is there to professionally connect, whether that be to collaborate, reconnect, network or just to learn from the best in the business. Then there is the other group. The fans of the content that simply adore and want to meet the creators, who they treat like the biggest stars you could possibly imagine. I think there is a little of that fan in all of us, which is what makes VidCon such a unique conference.
I mentioned in my last article that lines were shorter despite the event getting quite large. Now that the crowds have arrived reports are popping up on twitter that things are overcrowded and that some of the more passionate fans are getting a bit out of hand. So if you hear a screech and scream as you are walking around, watch out, you might get trampled to death by the wake of fans following the Shaytards to their next panel.
Up until Thursday I was starting to think that the industry pass at VidCon wasn’t going to be worth the money this year, but it has turned into a simply must have if you are attending in any sort of professional capacity due to the sheer size of the event. If you are looking to connect with other like-minded people in the online video industry it will ensure you attend the right conference and the price has become a pseudo pay wall to make sure it stays that way. At any time you can go down a floor or two and experience the fandom that is VidCon, but if you want it to stay on a strictly professional level, just flash that industry badge. An industry badge will get you on to the third floor, above all the craziness below.