The 7th Annual Vidcon starts today with over 25,000 tickets sold and leveraging every open space and area at the Anaheim Convention Center, the largest convention center in California.

Vidcon is an annual conference focused on the online content community. Appearances, panels and performances by well known online content creators are driving this event created by Hank and John Green, well known as content creators and producers (John authored the megahit, The Fault Within Our Stars) and the brothers created, The Vlogbrothers, one of the first YouTube show’s to capture a large audience and drive the YouTube phenomenon.

At its heart, Vidcon is for the fans(see the Vidcon Tumblr for constant communication to the community). The ticket type and plenaries are structured around this with a ‘Community Track ticket’ to focus on meeting and hearing from your favorite creator, A ‘Creator Track ticket’ for people wanting to learn about creating great content and an ‘Industry Track ticket’ for the business professional with a hot line up of very senior folks driving the decision making at large media companies.

If you’ve read articles about the event before or spoken to any attendees, it was literally like Beatlemania. In previous years, I’ve been almost run over by screaming tweens and teens chasing after their favorite creators all over the Anaheim Convention Center with many of these fans waiting for days for autograph signings. But the conference producers are sharp, like the community and content they serve, they have grown and evolved their show. They are extremely aware of the cultural impact their event has and have made adjustments to how it works here with a publicly published ‘code of conduct’. Safety is at heart for their creators and attendees, with less public movement of those creators around the campus. There is smart security in place for anyone interacting with a creator at the signings and a bracelet system was introduced to map fans to their creators with specific times for autographs. This is so important to both communities here. The creators want to thank their fans and engage. The fans want a moment with their favorite creator. There’s even a parent lounge, so parents have a comfortable place to hang out while their kids do their thing, sponsored by KIA and it’s simply brilliant.

Media companies and Brands are here in force with YouTube taking a big role this year and promoting their subscription service YouTube RedSnapchat, Facebook TwitterNetflix and host of other brands like KiaTwix, Snickers, CanonSamsung also have major presences. The expo floor is broken into three parts: booths for creating engagements sponsored by a mix of these companies, a middle area that is for ‘play’ with physical experiences all sponsored and a back area focused on stages. Again, this show is for the community and there are 7 stages in total in action with panels, performances and a highly curated mixture of popular creators.

New this year:

Because the industry is changing so quickly and it needs to be responsive to the fans and community it depends on, the show adapts. New to Vidcon this year is a gaming focus, with an area on the expo floor dedicated to gaming with well-known players, sponsored by Snickers, with opportunities for fans to engage and panels and discussions on the topic. The show has also expanded out to the hotels flanking the convention center and there is a ‘Beauty and Lifestyle’ salon with well-known lifestyle creators that are well known for their how to’s and product recommendations.   The ‘Lifestyle’ genre is big business for the online community.

Note: BeautyCon is an event happening in July in Los Angeles (with additional events in NY and Dallas) and BlogHer 2016 (of which I sit on the advisory board) will also have many well-known bloggers, vloggers and publishers discussing lifestyle content.

VidCon is set to expand globally with announcements this week for Europe and Australia events set for 2017

“The growth of online video, and the ability for creators like myself to have such enjoyable careers, is due to a passionate and engaged community that is truly global,” said VidCon co-founder Hank Green. “We are excited that we can bring the VidConexperience to Europe and Australia, where the fan and creator communities are so strong and truly thriving.”