You’ve researched every SEO hack and trick, read countless Google Adwords reports, and you still struggle to understand how to succeed on YouTube. In the early days of YouTube, it was easy to follow breakout platform leaders like Vsauce, Smosh, and Ray William Johnson to understand what they were doing to get tons of traffic. But now the platform is getting so crowded that it seems impossible to follow any channel’s best practices because they are only focusing on their specific niche. One could argue that there aren’t any creators producing content that works for everyone... until you find MrBeast.
In this report, we’ll be taking a deep-dive analysis of one of ScaleLab’s most successful partners and learn how he built a highly engaged community that’s growing exponentially every day.
As a quick overview, MrBeast is a YouTube channel that had a remarkable year of growth in 2018. Last January, his channel was looking strong with roughly 20M monthly views and 2M subscribers, but by the end of the year those numbers leaped to 200M monthly views and over 12M subscribers. That’s a 1,000% increase in views and 600% increase in subscribers! But how did he do it?
Thumbnails & Titles
The decision-making process for any YouTube video begins with the title and thumbnail. The main idea behind the video needs to be clearly communicated in both places or else it could be flagged for clickbait. What makes MrBeast’s videos so compelling is that the ideas are huge in scope and feel almost like clickbait because it seems too good to be true. But every video idea can be communicated in one image and one descriptive statement.
What’s really interesting is how the thumbnails alone fight against so many generic best practices for thumbnails, but still get clicks. Instead of a highly photoshopped image that communicates a “polished finish,” MrBeast keeps his thumbnails simple to stay in-line with this video’s non-professional aesthetic.
The channel is also very aware of how small the thumbnail appears on the Explore page of the YouTube mobile app. Over 50% of all traffic coming into YouTube is now through a mobile device, so understanding that every image needs to be simple enough to be understood at a reduced size has been critical to MrBeast’s success.
Many YouTube creators will rely too heavily on their personality to be the selling point for watching a video. MrBeast takes an almost opposite philosophy regarding content. We’re confident that many of MrBeast’s followers did follow him for his personality, but what sent his channel through the stratosphere is creating larger-than-life scenarios and capitalizing on platform trending topics. This type of content is called “Hero Content” and we discussed the format in-depth in a previous blog post.
This type of content was adopted very successfully in his Fortnite donation series, last to leave money challenges, and building a house out of Legos. These are videos that you don’t get to see every day, it’s a spectacle, and that gives people an urgency to watch. Also, take a look at the duration of MrBeast’s videos. YouTube typically recommends 10min+ videos, because the sweet spot for average view duration on the platform is 6-9 min. If you look at MrBeast’s videos, you’ll see that most are from 11-17 min long, perfect for YouTube's algorithm.