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VidCon 2024: Key Moments and Takeaways

By: Viral Nation | 5 mins read |

In keeping with the Anaheim conference’s theme “The Creator Economy Comes of Age”, VidCon 2024 saw discussions around growth and adapting to new trends, platform features, and algorithm updates take center stage. 

On panels, creators could be heard dropping buzzwords like “adulting” and “investment”, and bringing a fresh topic into the spotlight, courtesy of VidCon Featured Creator veteran MatPat: creator retirement.

The creator economy has come of age, and this year’s VidCon addressed it head-on. Here are the most important lessons and insights about what that coming-of-age story means for the future of the creator marketing industry, straight from the convention’s stage.

What Was New For VidCon This Year?

Child holds her hand out to Pinky Patel

A young fan meets creator and comedian Pinky Patel.

If you take note of how fans flocked to YouTuber Aphmau’s cat carnival booth in droves, you could conclude that VidCon (especially the Minecraft community) is thriving. 

And it wasn’t just fandom; speaking about the growth of the creator economy at VidCon, Tubefilter co-founder Joshua Cohen said: “We can all feel like there’s something different in this ecosystem that wasn’t there before… There’s something different in the air now than what was at VidCon 2009, 2008, when they used to have to explain to people what a YouTuber was and how they made money.” 

A first for VidCon was the appearance of the White House digital strategy team which championed two panels and announced a creator-led conference at the White House this summer. It wasn’t long ago that Viral Nation was invited to the White House to discuss future opportunities for the creator economy in government initiatives. 

Out of the 55K attendees, many come to the conference to learn how to become creators themselves. A topic that increasingly resonates with younger generations made the rounds: Mental health. Creator Shayne Topp (Smosh) said, “We’re working on taking dark weeks and giving ourselves some breathing room. We’re acknowledging that we do better work when we’re feeling better and allow our creativity to grow.” 

For the industry track, YouTube released an interesting Culture & Trends Fandom Report at the show highlighting identity, social connection, and self-care as psychosocial needs that shape consumer behavior. 

With all this said, one takeaway is clear: the creator economy is in its adulting era.

The Adulting Era

Creators taking a selfie in front of a tropical VidCon scene.

Creators Charlotte Dobre and Michael Ricci taking a selfie together.

Panels discussing the balance between creative burnout, the influencer pay gap, and staying true to a creator’s unique voice were contrasted against talks around the need for scaling growth in a landscape where roughly 60% of a creator’s income comes from brand partnerships. Speaking about his retirement earlier in the year, former Game Theorist YouTuber Matthew Robert Patrick said, “Right now, it took my 80-hour work week and reduced it to a 40-hour work week…which feels like a vacation.”

While TikTok’s VidCon activation continued regardless of its looming US ban, the need for platform diversification to practically prepare for such an event remained the talk of the town. With different platforms come different opportunities for sponsorship, ad revenue sharing, partnerships, and subscriptions — offering a low-risk, high-reward option for creators keen to protect their time and mental health while growing their brand.

Pointing to merchandising ventures as a potential revenue stream, creator Hank Green warned of the risks of overcommitting to new ventures. “An idea isn’t a good idea until it fits into reality,” he said, as he recommended testing out new merch concepts in small batches before scaling production. 

Adulting Means Adapting

Anthony Hamilton Jr sitting on couch speaking through mic

Basketball creator Anthony Hamilton Jr talks on a panel about short-form content.

VidCon 2024 highlighted significant updates and changes across major social media platforms, showcasing how creators must adapt to stay relevant. TikTok announced ‘Deals For You Days,’ aiming to boost ecommerce on the platform, while Pinterest introduced board sharing to enhance content discovery across platforms. YouTube focused on fandoms in its 2024 Culture & Trends Report and introduced new Premium features like picture-in-picture Shorts. Instagram tested a new Reels feature, Trials, to expand creator reach.

Perhaps the biggest platform shift was YouTube’s algorithm, with changes reflecting a strategic shift to balance short-form and long-form content. By optimizing the display of Shorts based on user engagement, YouTube aims to retain viewers longer on the platform. For creators, this means shifting focus on producing both short and long-form content to maximize visibility and monetization opportunities.

The Embracing the Short Form Future panel, featuring Anthony Hamilton Jr, is a perfect segue into the evolution of short-form content. Hamilton highlighted a trend driven by AI, stating, “I feel like with the power of AI, there is a trend going on now where they are going to previous viral memes of Vine or early, and they’re reconstructing those videos into completely different videos that are going viral. It’s like interrupting a meme trend.” 

Diversity and Activations

Naomi Hearts speaking on stage with four other panelists

Naomi Hearts spoke on two panels and hosted a festival party.

The LGBTQ+ community was out in full force and Naomi Hearts captivated audiences by sharing insights on diversity and representation during her panels. She said, “We are more than a month, we want brands to work with us throughout the year, not just in June.” Self-care was also a key theme in her discussion: “Showing up for yourself, presenting as yourself is the most important thing.”

At VidCon, activations were still a highlight, with brands creating engaging experiences for attendees. e.l.f Cosmetics was out in style with a beauty station ready for fans and creators looking to freshen up on the go. Fanta’s Wanta Fanta setup featured an outdoor truck serving themed drinks and ice cream, lively DJ music, and games like Fanta Pong, making it a crowd favorite. Disney’s immersive Descendants: The Rise of Red booth transported fans into the world of Auradon with themed rooms, interactive photo ops, and exclusive merchandise giveaways. Finally, TikTok’s activation included an exclusive party and a focus on promoting their new long-form video content feature, emphasizing their effort to diversify content formats and engage creators. 

Final Thoughts

VidCon 2024 proved again to be a vibrant celebration of creativity and connection, highlighting the resilience and adaptability of the creator community. From inspiring panels to exciting brand activations, the event set the stage for important discussions that emphasized the need for creators to evolve continually. 

The event came off the back of Cannes Lions, aimed at connecting and celebrating the work of creators, brands, and agencies. For some creators, this made a busy schedule for those who attended the two shows back-to-back across continents. 

But for VidCon, it’s all about the fans. This year opened up opportunities for nascent creator economy organizations to flex their services and for brands to network and learn about the creator economy. And as always, VidCon made the connection between creators and their fans real, making space for a mutual exchange of gratitude that lives at the heart of the show.

So what will next year look like? It’s anyone’s guess, but we can be sure that the creator space will continue to thrive and grow.
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