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“MrBeast”: These are the tricks of the world's most successful youtuber at the moment

Is Youtube already a mainstream medium? Parent company Google emphasizes that at least very much. A look at the creator "MrBeast" could be a strong indication of how mainstream the platform already is. The 22-year-old generated over 20 million views on each of his videos within a few days - and has built a kind of TV channel on YouTube. We show MrBeast's viral video tricks and calculate how much he earns with his million-dollar reach.

MrBeast's real name is Jimmy Donaldson and he grew up in a small town in North Carolina. A few days ago he celebrated 40 million subscribers on his main channel on Youtube. Only within the past 12 months has he generated 3.5 billion views of his videos on the platform. In the week from August 10 to 17, 2020 alone, there were almost 143 million views according to the analysis tool Socialblade - no other Youtuber currently has such numbers. And we're just talking about Jimmy Donaldson's main channel here. His four other channels on Youtube have a total of almost 15 million subscribers. But how did the young guy from the small town do it?

Strategy 1: combine viral formats

The first secret of MrBeast's success lies in the nature of its content. In his videos he combines different formats that work particularly well on YouTube. There is no viral playbook for the platform, but certain formats just work very well. These include: pranks, competitions, dramatic content, everything that revolves around money and collaborations with other Youtubers. MrBeast always combines several of these success factors in his videos.

Examples from recent times: A rock-paper-scissors tournament with some of the world's greatest Youtubers. The profit of $ 250,000 went to a good cause (competition, big Youtubers, money). Another example: The last of his friends to get out of a Tesla is allowed to keep it (competition, money, drama). Donaldson often organizes such competitions with his friends who have long been known in the community. Another successful format are his give-away videos. Sometimes he gives away $ 100,000 to a homeless person, in another video the pizza delivery boy gets the house he's delivering as a tip. "When you give someone an awful lot of money, it's funny to watch how they react," says Jimmy Donaldson, aka MrBeast, in an interview with YouTube star Casey Neistat.

Strategy 2: perfect use of the algorithm

In addition to good content, correct handling of the algorithm also counts on YouTube. In order to land in the video recommendations, you need good numbers for two KPIs: click-through rate and length of stay. So users who see his thumbnails (preview images) have to click and then ideally stick to it until the end of the video. Donaldson achieves clicks firstly through his mostly very simple thumbnail images, which are deliberately amateurish and often show him or the protagonists of the video. And second, with strong titles that arouse curiosity. Examples: "If You Click This Video I'll Give My Friend .001 $" or "Spending $ 1,000,000 In 24 Hours". When it comes to titles, too, he often brings money, competition or superlatives into play ("I Built The World’s Largest Lego Tower"). “I always ask myself: what do people want to see?” Says Donaldson in an interview with Casey Neistat. "My thumbnails and titles look like clickbait, but I always keep the promises made there."

So that the viewers stay tuned after the challenged click, MrBeast does not only rely on the content - even if he really sat in the largest cereal bowl in the world. The structure of his videos is actually always the same: he greets the viewer and explains exactly what to expect within the first 30 seconds. There are also preview scenes that still don't reveal too much. So every video has its own teaser. In addition, Donaldson seems to have found the video length that is long enough to generate a high watch time (total duration that users are watching) and at the same time not so long that too many users get out before the end of the video (the watch-through Rate is also an important YouTube KPI).

Years had to pass before he had perfected these two content-driven strategies. Donaldson started his YouTube career at the age of 13 in 2012. At the time he is making lets play videos using Minecraft. “I only had a lame computer and no camera. So that's all I had, ”said Donaldson. Later his setup becomes more professional and he as a person comes to the fore. Over the years he has tried out which Youtube trend suits him best. He reports on the fortunes of big Youtubers, gives tips about the platform and comments on disputes between other creators. Donaldson only recorded his first viral video in January 2017 when he films himself counting to 100,000. The clip is over 23 hours long and offers a foretaste of how MrBeast will produce viral content in the years after. “I didn't make any money in the first few years. I just loved being a YouTuber, ”he says. “My entire teenage years consisted of a lot of work for YouTube.” His mother always said he should quit, today she works for him.

Strategy 3: Growth as a central goal

Anyone who has as many views as MrBeast can live from ads that are placed by YouTube in front of and between the videos. The analysis tool Socialblade estimates that he can earn up to 1.1 million US dollars a month with just such advertisements. In addition, Donaldson sells a huge variety of merchandise that he and his friends always wear in the videos. He also works with the big sports brands Nike and Champion. A campaign a few weeks ago showed how much money he can earn with his community. In the final spurt to 40 million subscribers, MrBeast had sold an anniversary hoodie and a matching shirt for one day - and promised to sign every item purchased. He sells 68,337 hoodies and shirts within 24 hours. Even if each fan bought just one t-shirt for $ 35, that makes nearly $ 2.4 million in sales.

There are also partnerships with brands such as the Quidd trading card app or the Honey voucher browser extension. According to his own statement, Jimmy Donaldson reinvests the majority of his income back into his videos - especially into the content. This is the only way he can give 40 new cars to his 40 millionth subscriber, buy an island for 800,000 US dollars and then give it away, or give the friend a Lamborghini who is the last to touch him. According to Donaldson, he spent over three million US dollars on video production in August 2020 alone.

Subscriber and view growth of MrBeast on Youtube (source Socialblade)

Strategy 4: Show format with protagonists

Another factor is added to the content of MrBeast as a recipe for success. "Basically it is a daily show and you can or actually have to watch all the videos," says Youtube expert Christoph Burseg. "In this way, he not only builds up a call with every new viewer, but also gets more and more loyal viewers." He manages this primarily through recurring protagonists next to himself. His friends Chandler, Chris & Co. are now almost as well known as he is and have small fan clubs among the spectators who cheer them on during the challenges.

In the end, however, it also lives from the curiosity of the users and the question of what MrBeast has planned as the next crazy and expensive action. In this way, he manages to generate at least 20 million views with every new video - often within a day. His most successful clips get 50 to 75 million clicks. He achieved his biggest coup to date a year ago when he dumped 100 million orbeez (pearls that dissolve in water) into a friend's garden. The clip has 97 million views today.

Strategy 5: positivity as a central element

“Many assume that negativity on YouTube brings a lot of clicks. But positivity is much more successful on YouTube, ”says Jimmy Donaldson. His gifts of money to the homeless, waitresses and his friends seem to strike an entertainment nerve in the community. The comment columns under his videos are full of suggestions for further videos such as: “Go to a children's hospital and pay the patients' bills at random.” There is no trace of the hatred of social media that is usually invoked.

His tree-planting campaign #teamtrees attracted a lot of attention at the end of 2019. His goal: to collect US $ 20 million to plant 20 million trees. He calls on his community to donate - to date, over 22 million US dollars have been raised for as many trees. Among the donors: Elon Musk, Shopify CEO Tobias Lütke (here in the OMR Podcast) and Salesforce founder Marc Benioff - these three alone have donated almost three million US dollars. MrBeast wants to continue to do good and thus generate many clicks. "My goal in life is to make a lot of money and then give it away," says Jimmy Donaldson - many views and subscribers are the best helpers.