Arriving at the inaugural Vidcon London 2019 last weekend, I felt a little bit like Charlie arriving at Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory.
Hip and colourful YouthTubers were charging gadgets in every corner, with their ironic tees and ubiquitous Vans. Not to mention their selfie rigs and camera hands.
Vidcon First Commandment: Thou must hold thy camera at all times.
So facing down the flash and glare of neon everywhere, I wondered how serious this whole thing was going to be.
I had opted for the Creator Track, because the Industry Track really didn't really seem as shiny and new.
Now I was feeling worried. Maybe I should have gone for the more mature ticket.
But I couldn't have been more pleased with my decision.
Three days of deep dive information, amazingly generous secrets from industry heavy-hitters and literally the latest and greatest news right from under the hoods of YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.
Plus, the YouthTubers were pretty great in the end.
Their antics were so energising, and a bit like enjoying the whiff of a cigarette when you gave up smoking a long time.
So here are my key takeaways for social video from Vidcon 2019:
1. Instagram is Facebook is Instagram
The two superpowers have morphed into one monster, although they play it down a bit. Facebook was keener to sing loudly about their Instagram integration (Instagration?) and nodded to the fun kid sister an awful lot.
Instagram clocked up all the cool points at Vidcon, and Facebook seemed to be chasing that a lot. It's hard to see how Instagram will stay real, now that they have a parent that presented a bit like a pushy stage Mom.
2. Adobe Rush set pulses racing
Adobe's latest addition to the picture suite on Creative Cloud looked to be a very nice social-friendly editing interface.
Like a lite version of Premiere Pro, with a lot of very nice and new colour filters that use the best of Photoshop's colour grading settings.
Kudos to the demo guy who kept it together during repeated crashes of the software. We were assured that was just a local hitch :)
3. Hank Green's secret voiceover technique
A tip from YouTube maestro and Vidcon inventor Hank Green for delivering a voiceover script. He types it out in 14px, reads it, records it, reads it, records it, repeats.
So he basically has to do that same thing everyone else has to, and that's reassuring news from a man who has 3.1 million subscribers on YouTube, just on one of his channels you understand.
4. The IGTV tease
I wasn't the only one who broke into a light sweat listening to this one, but it makes a whole lot of sense for an IGTV strategy.
When you have a decent piece of content ready for IGTV, here are the steps to maximise reach and engagement.
3 days before your IGTV publish, tease the video on Stories.
2 days beforehand, add a countdown sticker on Stories.
Upload the masterpiece to IGTV.
10 minutes later,react and engage on Stories.
10 minutes later, react and engage on Facebook.
And a bit later again, react and engage on Instagram Live.
Need a bit of a lie-down? You're not the only one.
5. Facebook has a new video page template.
It's surprising that it's taken them this long, but this new template is going to give YouTube a run for its money.
It allows your page to morph into a video-centric showcase, and more closely resembles a channel. Still a bit of a ways to go, but it's a very pleasing interface.
6. Live, live and live some more
A quiet reminder from Claudia Barbiero of LiveU that every single platform prioritises live content over video on demand.
We all know that but it's still a bit of a wake up call.
Live video really has to be a part of your video strategy, no arguments. And the better your video quality looks, live or recorded, the more your customers trust you.
We were also treated to a presentation from uber-streamer Jesse Latham, who naturally enough was live-streaming us listening to his presentation.
His custom power-pack allows him to stream for 14 hours non-stop, and he puts in an average of 10 hours per day 7 days a week. True story. An extreme example perhaps, but the shape of things to come.
7. Self-expression beats bandwagon-hopping
Kevin Alloca of YouTube perfectly articulated the difference between chasing trends and using the current zeitgeist for self-expression.
So a lot less mannequin challenge, much more 'My Morning Routine', where a theme or topic is adapted by a creator to further their self-expression.
He showed many fantastic examples of the work that is exciting him as Head of Culture and Trends at YouTube.
8. All Hail The Thumbnail
A really absorbing session by Matt Gielen of Little Monster Media on the importance of the thumbnail made so much gosh-darn sense.
Use faces with strong emotions and open mouths he says, and that's just the start of it.
Thumbnails are definitely a science and this man is the professor. He shares all his articles here, and really, his generosity with sharing his own brain power is mind-blowing.
9. The evolution of the STEM video
Dr. Shini Somara was a breath of fresh air both as a woman in STEM and a maestra YouTuber on Crash Course.
She made very many, very interesting points, including the idea that STEM videos are moving away from the 'Expert Telling' model to a more participative viewing experience - along the lines of "Follow me while I try to find something out or test this theory".
We could see more of this in all kinds of fields that deal with somewhat heavy content.
10. Under the bonnet of YouTube
Actually, it felt like we were deep in the cylinder of the engine, and I wondered how Derral Eves might ever get out from underneath there!
An incredibly knowledgeable YouTuber who seems to know the machine inside and out. He pointed out that a whopping 70% of views on YouTube are from content recommended by YouTube itself. Which means you absolutely have to pay attention to what YouTube is analysing about your videos if you hope to surface on the platform.
He returned again and again to the same piece - don't focus on subscribers, focus on your video content. A true guru of the play button.
A couple of fun things to wrap up a fantastic weekend of endless information.
According to viral megastar Woody of Woody and Kleiny, it's critical to engage with comments because "a follower becomes a fan, a fan becomes a super-fan, and a super- fan becomes a soldier."
It's war, people...
Finally, a lovely moment in one of the seminars.
A young lady put her hand up to ask a question, and the moderator said - "Yes, please, the woman there with the glasses", whereupon the young lady got a bit flustered. She then said "Oh, what, me? Oh right, its just it's my first day ever wearing glasses so I didn't realise you were talking about me!"
You had to have been there :) Be there next year!
Niamh Guckian is the Director of Go Motion Academy
Providing Training in Video for Social Media & Digital Marketing