Internet personality and viral philanthropist Jimmy ‘MrBeast’ Donaldson is well on his way to building a veritable empire. The foundation? Smart content creation that spurred the development of a successful personal brand.
MrBeast has become one of YouTube’s most popular creators. In 2020, he branched out and launched MrBeast Burger, a seemingly unrelated business which is booming just as much as his YouTube videos. For his latest feat to grab the headlines, he recreated the popular Squid Game.
So what’s the key to his success? And what can brands learn from this savvy tween who took one of the world’s largest search engines by storm? In this article, we’ve compiled some insights for you.
MrBeast has exemplified how to build a viral empire from the ground up. The 23 year old started uploading videos to YouTube in 2012, when he was barely a teenager. After six years of trial and error, his main channel went through a major growth spurt, becoming the fastest growing YouTube channel with a current following of over 80 million subscribers.
He also runs a merchandise store and in 2020 he launched MrBeast Burger, a viral burger chain covering 300 locations in the United States.
But that’s not all. Mid-October, he pulled out all the stops and invested over $3.5 million to recreate the insanely popular Netflix show Squid Game (a non-lethal version, thankfully) and invited 456 contestants to play for a cash prize of $456,000. The video he released on the 24th of November scored over 120 million views in 5 days’ time.
What distinguishes MrBeast from other content creators, influencers and even businesses, is that he’s maintained a very strong focus, not on what he wants to create, but on what content will resonate best with his audience.
To this end, he has experimented patiently and consistently for many years. His first videos about Minecraft were not a big hit, so he kept playing around with the YouTube algorithm and explored what types of content elicit the most views and engagement.
Eventually, he landed on videos that tend to involve rather peculiar stunts or competitions, like watching paint dry for 24 hours or counting to 100,000, and/or massive cash prizes or give-aways. Aside from its mass appeal, this type of content has the benefit of being evergreen.
MrBeast is famed for his generosity. Once he bought a $800,000 private island only to give it away. Other videos include contests which allow his viewers to win a large cash prize. Yet another time he donated a large amount of money to a homeless person he encountered on the street. Needless to say, these videos are wildly popular.
It’s not just important to nail the topic of the video but also the way the video is structured. MrBeast achieves viewer retention by using a format that provides a glimpse of what’s to come and then increases the stakes as the narrative unfolds.
YouTubers like MrBeast who succeed in creating viral videos can get sponsored by brands if they agree to promote said brand in their content. MrBeast is unique in that he either gives away the money he’s made off these partnerships or he reinvests the funds in his channel.
MrBeast makes most of his revenue from partnerships with brands like Honey, the shop assistant app. His charitable actions lead to even more business as many brands seek to associate themselves with him and his philanthropic efforts. Some of the funds are used to diversify his business, like his merchandise store.
The latest addition to MrBeast’s steadily growing empire is a series of virtual burger joints under the name of MrBeast Burger. He partnered with Virtual Dining Concepts, a company providing solutions to operate so-called ghost kitchens.
Instead of providing an in-person dining experience, kitchen spaces are rented simply to prepare food which then reaches the end consumer via food delivery services. Using a ghost kitchen eliminates the need for a physical storefront with large overhead costs and also makes it easier to relocate.
Just like his videos, his burger joint is hence built on some key virtual elements. The virtual space is, after all, MrBeast's natural habitat.
The creator economy continues to thrive as the internet and the various social media platforms have made it easier than ever for just about anyone to get their voice heard. The virtual space has also facilitated the process of starting a business for budding entrepreneurs.
Gone are the days when you needed to have a significant amount of money stashed away. Instead, you can take to social media, start posting and build a loyal following. As mentioned, influencers with a large fan base can win backing by sponsors to monetize their efforts. All it takes to get started is a mobile phone and a wifi connection.
This is quite the opposite of how a traditional business operates. Rather than investing capital to first launch a venture and then try to get enough traction in the market through advertising, networking and word-of-mouth; influencers like MrBeast make easy money once they decide to branch out. Why? Because they’ve already got access to a considerable audience and fan base. If they’ve managed to gain enough popularity, their fans are sure to follow them, whichever commercial avenue they decide to pursue.
When we delved a little deeper into the story of YouTube sensation and entrepreneur MrBeast, we discovered that he invested - and continues to invest - a lot of time and money into his personal brand. But most importantly, he is patient and persistent in all he does. He’s not afraid to make errors on his quest to find out what works and to continue to improve and diversify his offering.
In short: all you need to do to punch above your weight is to learn, invest, improve and repeat!