Updated: Oct 14
In this article, I'm going to tell you why the world's greatest content strategist is a 24 year old YouTube star who dropped out of college. Learn the secret to MrBeast content strategy and take your brand viral.
I've spent 15 years in copywriting and content creation, and no course I've taken has taught me more than watching MrBeast's YouTube channel.
That firm selling a $999 content strategy course will tell you this is absurd. They'll tell you not to waste your time watching some YouTube video about hide and seek in a mall.
My response? *ahem*
As of March 2023, MrBeast's YouTube channel has over 137 million subscribers. Forbes estimates his 2021 earnings at $54 million from YouTube alone. It's reported that in October 2022, he was offered $1 billion for his content library — and turned it down.
So why is a YouTuber from North Carolina one of my content strategy heroes?
Four reasons: Viral content, audience retention, philanthropic efforts, and good ol' brand strategy wizardry.
Viral content creation — a commitment to doing the impossible
Mr Beast (aka Jimmy Donaldson) started his YouTube channel at 13 years old. He'd learned to adapt his content and style to audience trends before he finished high school. Now, he's giving interviews to Joe Rogan, Lex Fridman and VidCon about matching brand strategy to the YouTube algorithm.
Forget formal education. MrBeast deals in life experience and old-fashioned creative juice.
The official MrBeast staffing page states the goal for their channels is to “push the limits of what was once thought of as impossible”. An outsider may find this notion absurd. But here's a few things Donaldson's main channel has done in the last 3 years:
Re-created Squid Game in real life, with 456 contestants and over $240,000 in prizes
Built a replica of the Willy Wonka chocolate factory (and gave it away)
Gave away 2 private islands
Gave away over $3 million in prize money in 2022
(This list doesn't cover ocean cleanup, tree planting initiatives and MrBeast's philanthropic efforts. More on that later.)
What can we learn from the audacity of the MrBeast content strategy? The limits of what your content can achieve are often self-imposed. If Jimmy Donaldson cared about what was merely plausible, he wouldn't be the famous YouTuber MrBeast.
The same applies to you and your content strategy. Approach content creation as though anything is possible. Then, instead of finding ways to say ‘no’, find ways to make ‘yes’ happen.
(Make sure your brand strategy partners share in your audacious optimism, too.)
You're never ‘too big’ to care about audience retention
The MrBeast YouTube brand operates six channels and over 1,000 videos (and counting). You might be surprised to learn that despite this massive scale, MrBeast himself checks his audience retention numbers on a regular basis.
But is that actually surprising, or is it a key reason why he's the reigning king of YouTube?
A smart content creator values audience retention as highly as conversion rate. If consumers aren't engaged with your content, that content simply isn't doing its job.
The audience retention rate for MrBeast's video content stands at 70%. Seventy percent. As of March 2023, the average length of MrBeast's last 10 main channel videos was roughly 12 minutes and 40 seconds. Let's do some quick math:
Combined views of MrBeast's last 10 videos (as of March 2023) = 1.184 billion
70% of their average duration (12 minutes and 40 seconds) = 8 minutes, 52 seconds
Total viewing time (to date) = 175 million hours
For context, that's roughly 200 centuries' worth of viewership… in 7 months. How in the world does MrBeast keep people watching this long?
Audience retention starts with preframing
Gaining that level of target audience retention starts with the power of preframing. Simply put, preframing is telling your audience what you're going to do right from the start — and then doing it.
(Go back to the top of this article and see how I preframed it for you!)
Some of today's best written and media content utilizes preframing. Films like Moulin Rouge! tell you from the start what's about to happen, and that's the hook that draws you in. Engagement isn't about discovering what happens — it's finding out how.
(When your premise is as compelling as surviving 50 hours in Antarctica, you'd better lead with it.)
Nearly every MrBeast viral video starts with straightforward preframing. You can utilize the same tool in your own content marketing strategy, especially in compact spaces like social media. You have an amazing product or service, right? Why not tell your target audience about it immediately, and fill in all the details later?
Beast Philanthropy — delivering kindness at scale
It was important to me that we pause here and talk about Beast Philanthropy. From his first sponsorship deal, Jimmy Donaldson vowed to give away every penny made by his core YouTube channel. According to its website, “Beast Philanthropy exists to leverage the power of social media platforms and raise funds to alleviate hunger, homelessness, and unemployment.”
Is there a content strategy lesson here? It may not be conventional, but it's a simple one. Kindness wins.
It's very easy to adopt a sardonic or angry brand personality in today's world. It seems like negativity pervades the latest news and social media feeds. It probably makes you yearn for good news. And that is the key to Beast Philanthropy's success. Don't you want to be the good news that bursts through the screen and makes someone's day? Your brand can harness the incredible power of making someone feel good.
If the largest YouTube star on the planet can leverage his platform for social good, then all of us can find a way to do the same.
A YouTube star turned brand deal magician
Have you eaten a Beast Burger? What about a Feastables bar? If you have, you've supported a MrBeast branded product.
Jimmy Donaldson has parlayed his brand into a line of consumer goods, including the successful MrBeast Burger franchises.
Heck, the man even asked Elon Musk if he could take over as Twitter CEO. (And Musk didn't say no.)
Maybe MrBeast will actually run a social media platform like Twitter one day. Maybe MrBeast Gaming will release its own line of games. The important thing here is that with MrBeast's worldview, none of this seems impossible.
Here's what can you take from this part of MrBeast's story: don't define your brand by your initial concept. Watch your target audience, and allow their needs and desires to inform your growth.
If every brand stubbornly clung to its initial concept, then Jimmy Donaldson would be playing Minecraft for 5,000 subscribers. Instead, MrBeast is creating content for 140 million subscribers, burgers for 1,700+ virtual locations, and Feastables bars for every WalMart in America.
A decent content marketing strategy attempts to bring your brand to its target audience. A brilliant strategy fills a need so well, those customers will come to you.
It's a creator economy. Be inspired by the MrBeast content strategy.
Do you have a favorite YouTube creator or Twitch streamer? Are you addicted to an influencer's social media? Instead of mindlessly scrolling and consuming, stop and ask yourself why. You might find the inspiration that elevates your own brand strategy.
Jimmy Donaldson's path from teenage gamer to YouTube's preeminent content creator is inspiring. It's important to recognize the commitment it took for him to get there. MrBeast didn't start with money, sponsors or a lucrative brand deal.
He started with the passion to bring people content they couldn't resist. If that's a trait you possess, then you can certainly learn something from watching MrBeast.
(Man, I wish I had a cool outro song to play here over an explosion graphic.)
Do you have a passion for great content creation? Then you're just like me. We owe it to each other to have a free conversation about your brand, your strategy and your goals. Hit this link and drop us a line — let's write your next chapter.