YouTube has 2.5 billion users that watch about 694,000 minutes of video every minute. Many of those minutes spent on the platform are devoted to 25-year-old YouTube megastar MrBeast, whose unique content, authenticity, and dedication to his craft have driven his meteoric rise.
He’s become known for his stunt philanthropy and extreme challenges, but MrBeast (whose real name is Jimmy Donaldson) has garnered billions of YouTube video views not only because of his engaging content but also because he spent years of his youth mastering the platform’s algorithm and implementing the marketing flywheel to build strong relationships with his audience.
When you break down MrBeast’s content choices, interactions with followers, and charitable business philosophy, you’ll begin to understand how a boy who started his YouTube channel at age 13 has become the highest-paid YouTuber in the world.
In this article, learn about the factors behind Jimmy Donaldson’s success as a YouTube star and how he built a business worth over $100 million.
- MrBeast is a YouTuber megastar known for his large-scale donations, philanthropic endeavors, and extreme challenges.
- He has amassed over 178 million YouTube subscribers and has become the highest-paid YouTuber on the internet.
- Donaldson has mastered the YouTube algorithm and continues to grow at a rapid speed, using the marketing flywheel to attract, engage, and multiply his followers.
Who Is MrBeast?
“I think on YouTube, it’s different and people just haven’t realized it. Positivity is just as clickbait as negativity.”Jimmy Donaldson
MrBeast, or Jimmy Donaldson, is a popular American YouTuber known for his large-scale donations, philanthropic endeavors, and extreme challenges. He grew up in a middle-class family in Greenville, North Carolina, and began his first YouTube channel at 13. When he chose to pursue a career as a YouTuber instead of going to college, Donaldson told his mother, “I’d rather be poor than do anything besides YouTube.”
Since then, he has created a unique style of blending entertainment with philanthropy, making him one of the platform’s most influential and admired creators.
During his relatively short time in the spotlight, here are MrBeast’s accomplishments:
- YouTube: Donaldson has over 178 million YouTube subscribers, and his popularity grows yearly. His videos often garner tens of millions of views within just a few days of being uploaded, and he has become the highest-paid YouTuber.
- Philanthropy: One of MrBeast’s most defining features on YouTube is his grand acts of philanthropy. He’s given away millions of dollars to strangers, friends, and charitable causes. For example, he’s purchased items from small businesses to give them a financial boost, given away houses, and even hosted large-scale competitions with substantial cash prizes.
- Business Ventures: Beyond his main YouTube channel, MrBeast has also launched several other ventures. For instance, he started MrBeast Burger, a virtual restaurant brand that rapidly expanded across the United States and sold one million burgers in the first three months of business. In 2020, he launched Feastables, a chocolate business that focuses on plant-based, gluten-free ingredients.
- Environmental Efforts: In 2019, MrBeast started a fundraiser called Team Trees in collaboration with the Arbor Day Foundation. The goal was to raise $20 million to plant 20 million trees by the end of 2020. The initiative reached its goal ahead of schedule, with support from numerous YouTubers and influential figures, and the foundation has planted over 24 million trees to date. In 2022, Donaldson launched a fundraising campaign called Team Seas, which raised funds for Ocean Conservancy and The Ocean Cleanup, removing over 33 million pounds of trash from the ocean.
How MrBeast Mastered the YouTube Algorithm
Donaldson’s innovative approach to content creation and his genuine desire to make a positive impact have endeared him to a vast global audience. Yet, it took Donaldson years of content experimentation to nail down what it takes to be a successful YouTuber. He has had a YouTube channel since he was 13 years old and over time, he’s developed a deep understanding of how the platform and its algorithm work.
His domination of the YouTube algorithm is a result of several factors, some strategic and others related to the genuine appeal of his content.
Here are some of the key factors behind his YouTube success:
1. High Retention and Watch Time
YouTube’s algorithm places a significant emphasis on watch time and viewer retention. MrBeast’s videos are not only entertaining but are also designed to keep viewers engaged until the very end. By ensuring high retention rates, his videos signal to the algorithm that the content is valuable, prompting YouTube to recommend it to even more users.
MrBeast has many competition videos that end in big cash prizes, keeping viewers engaged until there’s a winner at the end. In “Last to Leave Circle Wins $500,000,” 100 people tested their physical and mental endurance by standing together for several days. In the end, ten contestants were left, and the final phase was posted in another video, driving the channel’s retention rate.
2. Consistent Engagement
MrBeast’s challenges and large cash prizes lead to high levels of engagement in the form of likes, comments, and shares. High engagement rates indicate to YouTube that viewers are actively interacting with the content, which further boosts the videos’ reach.
In 2022, Donaldson released a video named “I Gave My 100,000,000th Subscriber an Island,” inviting 100 recent subscribers to compete in a race for the grand prize. He frequently includes subscribers in his challenge videos, incentivizing people to follow his YouTube channel closely.
3. High-Quality Production
As his channel grew, the production quality of MrBeast’s videos also improved. This level of professionalism and attention to detail ensures that viewers are provided with top-tier entertainment. Donaldson has a “top secret content haven,” according to a report by Insider, which is fully stocked with cameras and screens for video shoots. There are also several offices for the MrBeast team where editing takes place. The total estimated value of the studio space and equipment is more than $14 million.
For his video “I Built Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory,” which was posted last year, Donaldson built an impressive replica of the famous factory, made with chocolate doors, waterfalls, and a river. The impressive production facility made the video more visually engaging for viewers, as did the competition completed throughout the space.
4. Trending Topics and Virality
Many of MrBeast’s videos tap into trending topics or are crafted with the potential for virality in mind. This makes them more likely to be picked up and shared on other platforms, driving even more traffic to his YouTube channel.
In November, 2021, MrBeast posted a video called “$456,000 Squid Game in Real Life,” which was a play on the hit Netflix show Squid Game. To date, the video has over 484 million views on YouTube.
5. Relatability and Authenticity
Despite the large sums of money and grand gestures, MrBeast and his team, which is made up of Donaldson’s best friends, manage to remain relatable. Their genuine reactions, camaraderie, and occasional failures make the content feel authentic, fostering a deeper connection with the audience.
In August 2023, the MrBeast video “7 Days Stranded at Sea” involved Donaldson and his friends spending a week on a raft in the middle of the ocean. The crew worked together to make shelter and endure the stormy elements.
6. Diverse Content Offering
While maintaining a central theme of generosity, MrBeast’s channel offers a diverse range of content, from philanthropic endeavors to quirky challenges and beyond. This variety keeps the audience coming back for more because the content remains exciting.
In 2023, MrBeast’s video entitled “$1 vs. $500,000 Plane Ticket,” which had over 234 million views, explored plane rides at all costs, from a rickety single-engine ride to a luxurious private jet that costs half a million dollars per flight.
Collaborating with other YouTubers has helped MrBeast tap into different audiences and further expand his reach. His videos have featured other YouTube stars and influencers during competitions and giveaways.
In 2019, MrBeast featured YouTube star Pewdiepie in a video titled “Donating $10,000 to Pewdiepie.” In it, Donaldson films Pewdiepie’s reaction to a donation while he’s streaming a “Let’s Play” video, which resulted in public gratitude and positive feedback.
8. Frequent Uploads
The regularity of MrBeast’s uploads ensures that his channel remains active and continuously feeds the algorithm with new content. Donaldson has said in interviews that he works around the clock producing content, often sleeping in the apartment within his production studio.
In an interview with Joe Rogan last year, Donaldson explained his typical work schedule, stating, “Usually, on Mondays, I film for gaming. On Tuesdays, I film for reacts . . . Wednesday through Fridays I film on the main channel. And Saturday is when I do Beast Burger and Feastables and like all my side businesses, so I take calls. And then I try not to work on Sunday.”
MrBeast’s main channel has over 746 videos. He posts several weekly videos across his five active channels, including MrBeast, MrBeast Shorts, MrBeast Gaming, Beast Reacts, and Beast Philanthropy. By categorizing his channels and uploading content frequently, his audience has constant access to new material aligned with their interests.
MrBeast’s Marketing Flywheel
The marketing flywheel is a concept that replaces the traditional marketing funnel and is fueled by cyclical growth. Instead of looking at the customer journey as a linear path where potential customers (or subscribers) are dropped in at the top of the funnel and come out at the bottom, the flywheel considers the ongoing relationship and how customers can play a role in generating more business.
The flywheel concept centers around the idea that the energy you put into your marketing and sales efforts will continue to pay off after a sale is made. When customers are happy with their experience, they can actually help fuel growth by promoting the business, leading to more potential customers and sales.
Although Donaldson isn’t running a traditional business that relies on customer sales to earn revenue, he does depend on subscriber engagement to continue his success as a YouTuber. The key concepts of the marketing flywheel are used by Donaldson to attract and retain subscribers, driving his cycle of growth.
Here’s a breakdown of how Donaldson uses the marketing flywheel:
- Attract: MrBeast attracts subscribers with high-stakes challenges and charitable giveaways that not only persuade viewers to follow his channel but also contribute to his positive public perception.
- Engage: MrBeast has a knack for understanding what viewers find entertaining. His content is often unpredictable and compelling, making viewers curious about the outcome and engaging with his content frequently.
- Delight: MrBeast turns subscribers into promoters by prompting shares and loyalty. He frequently interacts with his fans on various platforms, making them feel valued and connected to him personally. Plus, he is known to reinvest a large portion of the money he makes back into his videos, which allows him to create even more lavish and attention-grabbing content.
- Promote/Advocate: MrBeast’s audience plays a significant role in promoting and amplifying his content. His fans are highly engaged, with millions of people flocking to his videos immediately after they’re uploaded. Given the unique and often over-the-top nature of his videos, they become a topic of conversation among friends, family, and communities. When he gives away a car or plants thousands of trees, people talk about it, leading to even more subscribers.
One key element of the flywheel model is that it’s continuous and emphasizes the ongoing relationship with your customers or audience, recognizing that they can play a critical role in future growth.
The marketing flywheel approach recognizes the immense value of building strong, long-lasting relationships with customers and leveraging those relationships for growth—something that MrBeast has mastered with his social media platform.
Finding Success in the Attention Economy
The attention economy refers to the modern state of the digital landscape where attention is a scarce commodity, and businesses or individuals compete for a slice of users’ time and focus. MrBeast has clearly found success in the attention economy, using an approach that turns casual viewers into loyal fans.
Here’s how to find success in the attention economy:
- Understand your audience: Know what resonates with your target demographic.
- Think quality over quantity: Focus on creating meaningful and impactful content.
- Be authentic: Genuine content will resonate more with audiences.
- Stay updated with trends: Adapt to emerging platforms and trends to foster growth.
- Collaborate: Partner with influencers or other brands to tap into new audiences.
Navigating the attention economy requires a mix of creativity, adaptability, and a deep understanding of audience preferences. Success lies in striking the right balance between being relevant and staying true to your brand or message.
To learn about using another social media platform for business, read this article next:
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- Help us plant 24 million trees – join #TeamTrees. (n.d.-b). https://teamtrees.org/
- Help us remove 30 million pounds of trash by January 1st, 2022 – Join #TeamSeas. (n.d.-b). https://teamseas.org/
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