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MrBeast: Future of YouTube, Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram | Lex Fridman Podcast #351
1 billion views and 1 billion subscribers (00:00:00)
- MrBeast believes one of his videos may eventually reach one billion views, with the "Squid Game" video as a likely candidate due to its continued growth.
- MrBeast argues that it's easier to achieve many views on one exceptional video than on multiple mediocre ones because good content remains evergreen on YouTube's recommendation algorithms.
- He envisions that his channel will one day hit one billion subscribers by focusing on creating quality content rather than on vanity metrics.
- Despite being at 120 million subscribers, MrBeast doesn’t actively focus on subscriber count; instead, he concentrates on making good videos, anticipating steady growth.
Twitter Poll and Human Nature (00:00:00)
- MrBeast was surprised by a Twitter poll where 45% of respondents said they would accept $10,000 if it resulted in a random person's death, expecting a 90% "no" response.
- He believes some respondents were serious, and even trolling can reveal darker aspects of human nature.
- Lex Fridman refers to Dan Carlin's "Painfotainment" episode to support the idea that humans are drawn to others' suffering and that extreme content can attract significant attention.
- MrBeast reflects on how a real-life Squid Game scenario would likely gather billions of views, highlighting our attraction to drama and extreme scenarios.
Mortality and Risk (00:00:00)
- MrBeast imagines he might die doing something adventurous like going to Mars, but asserts it would not happen during a video as he ensures safety measures and expert consultation for all his stunts.
- He discusses precautions and expert consultations taken to mitigate risks during shoots, using his trip to Antarctica and the "Buried Alive" video as examples of safety-conscious production planning.
- MrBeast conducted rigorous tests on the coffin used for a burial stunt to ensure maximum safety.
- He pre-recorded messages to his future self, predicting his channel's growth, with some scheduled to release decades later.
- A message is set to go live in the event of his death, which will happen automatically if he fails to reschedule them.
- MrBeast contemplates recording a large volume of content if he knew he had a limited time to live, in order to maintain his presence after death.
- Lex Fridman shares his experience creating a similar posthumous message, reflecting on its personal significance.
- Both agree it's a rare practice but one that may help loved ones cope and affirm personal values.
- MrBeast expresses fear of death, hoping for advancements in longevity.
- He considers the possibility of digital immortality but desires true extended life.
- The potential legal and ethical implications of creating a digital MrBeast are discussed, with a focus on maintaining the authenticity and value of his work.
Improving YouTube (00:13:08)
- MrBeast is content with YouTube's recommendation algorithm as it accurately suggests videos of his interest.
- He criticizes YouTube's comment system, comparing it unfavorably to Reddit’s more engaging and spam-free environment.
- He wishes YouTube's comment section would encourage and highlight high-effort comments to build a more natural community.
- Due to poor YouTube feedback quality, MrBeast often relies on Twitter, especially Twitter Blue verified users, for more sensible comments after posting a new video.
- Believes appointing him as Twitter CEO could be interesting due to potential content and platform development.
- MrBeast sees potential in Twitter's willingness to move fast, contrasting with the slower pace of more mature platforms.
- Views Twitter as more aligned with TikTok than YouTube for short, snappy content.
- Suggests Twitter is a strong comment section for the internet and questions why it doesn't embed YouTube videos to keep users on the site.
- Recognizes YouTube's strong ad revenue model and doubts Twitter's ability to outperform YouTube in creator payments in the near future.
Brand deals (00:20:19)
- Highlights the importance of integrating brand deals creatively and transparently into video content.
- Believes in informing viewers on how money from brand deals improves content, converting potential negative perceptions into support.
- Prefers working with brands that allow artistic freedom, rejecting those that are too rigid or prescriptive.
- Notes the difficulty smaller creators face with brands imposing strict guidelines on ad content and duration.
Audience retention (00:23:29)
- MrBeast is curious about what percentage of Lex Fridman's viewers have watched a MrBeast video.
- He constantly thinks about viewer retention and audience analytics during conversations.
- MrBeast considers both the overarching narrative and the cruciality of second-by-second engagement in his videos.
- People are more likely to continue watching a video if they have engaged with it for a longer time.
- The objective in creating content is to immerse the viewers, then maintain that level of immersion.
- The conversation takes place late at night, and Lex mentions he is on one hour of sleep due to travel mishaps.
- Lex flew to the wrong location, a city with a name similar to where he was supposed to be.
- Despite the travel error, Lex highlights positive interactions with locals, including a kind stranger and a waitress.
- The mix-up with the travel destination is compared to common city naming, like the numerous Springfields in the United States.
- MrBeast values coachability, hard work, and obsession for hiring his team, rather than pulling from traditional media where people might bring preconceived notions.
- He identifies a significant difference between content creation for YouTube and traditional media like Netflix.
- It's challenging to find experienced YouTube talent due to the small pool of large channels, making it more sensible to train dedicated individuals.
- Interview questions revolve around the candidates' long-term goals to ensure they see working on YouTube as an ultimate career, not a stepping stone to traditional media.
- A preference exists for candidates who believe in the YouTube platform's potential and are flexible and creative in producing unscripted, one-take content.
Content Creation and Training the Team [Not explicitly marked in the text]
- MrBeast possesses an intuitive sense of what will work in videos based on extensive exposure to viral content, prioritizing viewer retention and style.
- His content strategy is data-driven, shaped by patterns observed in the most viewed YouTube videos regarding thumbnails, titles, and video structure.
- There's a reluctance to impose too many constraints on the creative team to avoid repetitive content and encourage innovation.
- Knowledge transfer from MrBeast to the team involves teaching his approach without rigid guidelines, fostering a culture of suggestion rather than prescription.
- The process involves finding others within the team who can replicate the MrBeast style and presence on camera, often referred to as "cloning."
Talking to the camera (00:35:46)
- When addressing the camera, MrBeast sees past the camera and visualizes the viewer's perspective.
- He has developed the ability to real-time edit in his head, picturing exactly how the shot looks from the viewer's point of view while filming.
- This unique visualization skill has become one of his greatest strengths, forming over five years through repetition and analysis.
- MrBeast finds it easier to talk to a camera than to people, a sentiment shared by many content creators.
- He compares the process to a performance where his audience is on the other side of the camera.
- MrBeast has effectively trained certain company members to make decisions in the same manner he would, referring to this process as 'cloning.'
- He highlighted Tyler and his CEO, James, as examples, having spent extensive time working closely with them.
- He is a proponent of working with highly motivated A players and transferring his knowledge and thought processes to them extensively.
- For instance, James lived with MrBeast for years, absorbed his thoughts and approaches, and gradually took on more responsibility.
- This cloning allows MrBeast not to micromanage, trusting in his team to uphold his vision and make decisions aligned with what he would choose.
- As a result, MrBeast retains oversight of the creative process while being less involved in everyday operations, enabling him to focus on macro aspects of his work.
- Sitting in on a brainstorming session involves quickly evaluating and iterating on ideas, with a focus on titles and thumbnails that compel viewers to click.
- Inspiration is key to generating original, viral content ideas.
- The video, title, and thumbnail are developed concurrently and are based on extensive knowledge from years of focused learning.
- A good title must be so intrinsically interesting that people feel compelled to click, and ideally, it should be short to avoid being cut off on some devices.
- The extremeness of a title can boost click-through rates if the content delivers on the promise.
Thumbnails and Giving Away Money
- Thumbnails require a clear understanding of what makes an image compelling, with iterations often made to perfection.
- Money given away in videos demonstrates diminishing returns in terms of click-through rates after $100K.
- Both titles and thumbnails must be crafted in concert with the video content and length to maximize viewer engagement.
- A positive approach to content creation is more challenging but considered valuable by MrBeast.
- Thumbnails and titles should also have a strong brand recognition.
- Being unique is the key advice for content creators looking to make it big rather than copying established creators.
Overall Philosophy on Content Creation
- MrBeast encourages other creators to find their own unique approach to content instead of trying to copy what has made him successful.
- He shares all his strategies openly, viewing other creators as collaborators rather than competitors and believing that helping others be successful doesn't detract from his own success.
- MrBeast had significant success across platforms, being the most subscribed YouTube channel and the most followed TikTok account in the world at the time of the podcast.
- Transitioning from YouTube's longer content to TikTok's short-form, vertical content was a significant change.
- MrBeast focused on creating original concepts for TikTok that didn't just replicate his YouTube videos.
- Successful TikTok activities include playing Rock, Paper, Scissors with The Rock and flying someone to Paris for a baguette.
- His focus was on making high-effort, unique content for short-form platforms, leading to significant growth on TikTok.
Content Virality and Skill [Not time-stamped]
- Virality of content can be engineered as opposed to being merely accidental or luck.
- MrBeast emphasizes the repeatability of virality through learning and applying certain principles to content creation.
- Consistently viral content proves that creating successful content is a learnable and teachable skill.
- The current "content creation meta" allows for one piece of sub-one minute vertical content to go viral across multiple platforms.
- Training YouTubers, MrBeast helped some go from a few million to significantly more views and earnings through his insights.
Idea Generation and Execution [Not time-stamped]
- Idea generation is a critical component of content creation that needs active development.
- Many creators may not spend enough time crafting content that truly deserves millions of views.
- Self-awareness and continual learning are essential for improvement in content quality and success.
- MrBeast spends time studying various subjects to remain knowledgeable and gain a competitive edge.
Building a Content Company and Team Management [Not time-stamped]
- MrBeast's focus has shifted to learning how to scale and manage a content creation company.
- Discusses the importance of a never-ending thirst for learning to maintain a leading position in the industry.
- Openly discusses how he supports people he has to fire, seeing it as a transition rather than a negative end.
Advice for beginners (01:02:12)
- Emphasize creating content and learning from the process rather than overanalyzing.
- Begin content creation with the expectation that initial videos won't get views; make 100 videos, each time improving some aspect.
- Improvement areas can include scripting, editing techniques, vocal delivery, thumbnail design, and title creation.
- Perfection in content creation is unattainable, but continuous improvement is key.
- Approach brainstorming with creativity, even without resources, thinking of viral ideas before considering their feasibility.
- Be resourceful and imaginative in achieving goals, such as transforming a less expensive island into an attractive giveaway prize.
- Persistent problem-solving and resilience to rejection are essential traits for content creators.
How to grow on YouTube (01:06:28)
- General advice on growing a YouTube channel significantly isn't practical; strategies need to be tailored to each channel specifically.
- MrBeast rejects the idea of one-size-fits-all advice, emphasizing that each creator must assess their own success metrics.
- Lex Fridman, the host, admits he does not focus on numbers but is interested in what makes content compelling without sacrificing the creative process.
- MrBeast suggests understanding your audience is key, but Lex is skeptical of his ability to know his viewers well.
- It is highlighted that creators should trust their intuition and create content that appeals to themselves, which indirectly satisfies their audience.
- MrBeast shares that despite his broad audience, he doesn't tailor content to any one group but strives to make what he finds interesting.
- When discussing how to grow educational channels, MrBeast states that specific advice can only be given after a thorough review of a channel's content and audience.
- The conversation touches on the challenges in giving advice across channel genres and the importance of aligning content with audience interests.
- There's a discussion on idea generation and the value of brainstorming with people who think differently to create compelling content.
Elon Musk and Twitter (01:14:12)
- Surveys are the hardest metric to optimize because they reflect genuine viewer satisfaction and cannot be easily manipulated.
- Elon Musk's comment on reducing users' regrettable time on Twitter is noted, with parallels drawn to YouTube's survey system.
- MrBeast asserts that considering YouTube's position and infrastructure, it would be nearly impossible for platforms like Twitter or any other competitor to overtake YouTube in the near future.
10 million dollars vs 10 million subscribers (01:15:37)
- At different career stages, MrBeast would choose $10 million over 10 million subscribers because with capital, one can develop a channel and still retain most of the money.
- However, between 1 million dollars and 10 million subscribers, the choice is trickier as the financial benefits aren’t as clear-cut and there’s more risk involved.
- MrBeast believes subscribers have intrinsic value, but the number of active watchers varies.
Exploring YouTube analytics and the role of centralized control (01:15:37)
- The conversation delves into the general curiosity about YouTube analytics and social behavior on the platform.
- Lex Fridman enjoys analyzing YouTube trends while MrBeast admits to largely staying in his lane, though he recognizes the value of understanding platform mechanics.
- Discussion on the darker aspects of YouTube covers shadow banning and censorship, highlighting the opacity of these actions.
- There is agreement on the need for transparency in platform control methods to allow creators to adapt or challenge content decisions.
- The complexity of managing the vast amount of YouTube content necessitates a transparent, possibly crowd-sourced method for fact-checking and control over misinformation.
- MrBeast focuses on creating enjoyable content rather than delving deeply into platform politics or control mechanisms.
Going to Antarctica (01:22:55)
- The most challenging part of going to Antarctica was its remoteness and dependency on a precarious ice runway.
- MrBeast recommends visiting Antarctica for its breathtaking beauty, citing an experience of climbing an unnamed mountain in an environment devoid of life.
- Shooting challenges in Antarctica included dealing with extreme cold and battery management, though they experienced uncharacteristically warm temperatures during some of the filming.
The summary captures key points from a conversation between MrBeast and Lex Fridman about preferences between subscribers and money, exploring YouTube analytics, dealing with platform control, and the experience of making a video in Antarctica.
Process of making a video (01:24:40)
- Every video begins with an idea which is then explored for execution.
- A team may be built specifically for executing long-term projects without disrupting other productions.
- Equipment needs such as cameras and facilities like a trailer for footage storage are determined and acquired.
- Creative ideas evolve during production, introducing new elements like using a crane to introduce a house in a video.
- Task delegation among the crew is managed by a lead camera operator, with flexible arrangements to capture content.
- Production involved logistical challenges such as compensating the crew over extended periods and managing the budget.
Execution of specific videos
- The video "in a circle for 100 days" required a dedicated team and strategy due to the longer timeframe.
- The "100 vs. 100" concept was iterated upon with different participant dynamics, leading to "100 adults vs. 100 kids."
- Environmental and structural changes, like filming outdoors and using cubes instead of circles, were made to enhance the visual aspect.
- Issues like audio reverb and unusable footage emerged, requiring significant post-production editing and learning from mistakes.
Overcoming depression (01:29:16)
- Creators often feel depressed when videos underperform, leading to a significant impact on their mood.
- MrBeast used to get emotionally affected by underperforming videos, but now approaches such situations unemotionally to determine what went wrong, considering this a healthier mindset.
- Detaching oneself emotionally from video performance is important for longevity in the content creation industry; creators who can't may not be suited for it.
- MrBeast suggests that creators should objectively analyze their videos and understand it's normal for not every video to be a top performer.
Video failures and learning from them [no start time provided]
- MrBeast has experienced video failures and re-did projects that didn't meet his standards, like re-filming a 24-hour deserted island video.
- Practical adjustments and experience have helped avoid poor executions in more recent works.
- MrBeast avoids filming conditions that are physically challenging for him, like extreme heat or being at sea, which can lower the fun and quality of the video.
- The stress of publishing a new video subsides with experience; fearing irrelevance and having emotional reactions to releases is unsustainable.
Defining success on YouTube [no start time provided]
- Success on YouTube is subjective and varies from person to person; it may be defined as retiring a family member, inspiring people, quitting a job, etc.
- Metrics like subscribers are considered vanity metrics, as YouTube's algorithm relies more on suggested and home feed, making the subscriber count less relevant.
- Views can be an indicator of success since they reflect recurring audience engagement.
- Chasing views could lead to copying other creators rather than finding a unique voice, but being unique could sacrifice short-term views for long-term success.
Balancing work and personal life [no start time provided]
- MrBeast advocates for a balance between work and recharging activities to prevent burnout and maintain a sustainable work rhythm.
- Initially resenting downtime, MrBeast now understands the necessity of it for long-term success and accepts activities like watching anime or playing board games as essential for recharging.
- He acknowledges the challenge of finding a balance when driven to work optimally every moment and the importance of coming to terms with the need for leisure to avoid mental exhaustion.
- MrBeast briefly touches on his personal relationships, mentioning the importance of shared interests and the desire to learn as key aspects of his relationship with his girlfriend.
Building a business (01:40:20)
- A perfectly productive day for MrBeast involves filming a main channel video which garners around 100 million views.
- On average days, time is managed across various commitments like Feastables, Beast Burger, a data company for creators, Reacts channel, gaming channel, charity work, and main channel operations.
- Tasks are prioritized based on importance and the pressing needs of different projects or companies.
- The goal is to address the two to three biggest issues or requirements from each of the eight companies in a day.
Team Building and Scaling [Not Timestamped]
- MrBeast at 24, finds it challenging to have rapidly moved from being a high schooler to being responsible for hundreds of people.
- Believes that at age 34, he’d be more knowledgeable about business operations after having more experience.
- Building and scaling involved a lot of experimentation since no precedent existed for a content creation team of their size on YouTube.
- Different strategies were tested, including hiring from traditional media, but success came from handling it personally, alongside his right-hand man, James.
- The company scaled by throwing out traditional methodologies and focusing on YouTube-specific practices.
- Training is done internally, with team members educating each other and adopting unconventional, practical, and efficient methods for YouTube production.
- Innovation is encouraged among the team, and MrBeast emphasizes the importance of continuous experimentation, especially during periods of growth, to prevent stagnation or decline.
MrBeast Burger and Feastables (01:48:15)
- Originally, MrBeast Burger was intended as a popup event in partnership with a restaurant chain, offering Beast Burgers for a short period.
- The popup was highly successful, achieving six-figure sales on the first day and continued demand led to permanent operation and expansion.
- Feastables was created due to a desire for healthier snack options and a lack of innovation within American snacks.
- Over two and a half years were spent developing Feastables, involving the assembly of a dedicated team and careful planning.
- The challenge with Feastables has been maintaining stock on retail shelves, particularly at Walmart, which resulted in a temporary halt in promotion.
- Scaling up retail presence and launching new products while maintaining supply is posed as a significant challenge for 2023.
Creating video games (01:52:20)
- MrBeast is considering venturing into mobile or computer games development.
- Video games appeal as they provide instant global access to his predominantly international audience, unlike physical goods which are constrained by supply chains.
- Software allows for immediate worldwide distribution, avoiding alienation of international fans.
- MrBeast emphasizes his focus on quality product creation and customer satisfaction, inspired by industry leaders like Steve Jobs.
- His experience as a gamer shapes his confidence in creating games that his audience will enjoy, though he acknowledges the challenges of entering a new field.
(No heading for this section provided in the request)
- MrBeast discusses a future goal of creating a valuable brand, hinting at aspirations for his business ventures to grow significantly in worth.
Making billions of dollars (01:56:29)
- The path to being worth $100 billion includes making videos that get huge numbers of views and scaling businesses like Feastables and Beast Burgers.
- Feastables could grow to be in 100,000 retail locations, while Beast Burger is scaling up and mobile games have yet to be launched.
- YouTube channels are expected to remain relevant, leveraging their popularity to grow associated businesses.
- MrBeast aspires to be able to give away a billion dollars in a video one day.
Money vs Happiness (01:59:03)
- Money brings happiness up to the point where basic needs and family care are covered, beyond that adding more money does not significantly increase happiness.
- MrBeast enjoys building companies and making an impact rather than simply possessing money.
- It can be hard to find trustworthy people, but MrBeast surrounds himself with friends from before his fame.
- The creator finds it lonely at the top, noting few others take risks to the extent he does, contributing everything back into their work.
- MrBeast increasingly relates to non-YouTubers who share his passion for putting everything into what they love.
- The speaker believes that a part of the drive to work hard is innate and may not be easily replicated by others without a natural inclination.
Mental health (02:05:51)
- Embracing an innate drive to work improves mental health.
- Constraints, like not working weekends, have a negative impact on well-being.
- Productivity can entail long periods of intense work followed by rest and activities like watching anime.
- Surrounding oneself with people who encourage passionate work is beneficial.
- Being around likeminded people, such as healthy eaters or fitness enthusiasts, can positively influence habits.
- Younger people should be advised that their peer group greatly affects their life outcomes.
- Selective social circles can accelerate success, and this applies to all ages.
- Spending time with certain people can alter one’s behavior and mindset quickly.
- It’s important not to find enablers of destructive behaviors.
- The phrase "you're crazy until you're successful, then you're a genius" captures the journey of pursuing unorthodox goals.
- Avoiding people who seek to dissuade you from your passion and who offer unwanted advice is key.
- It's crucial to have a team that offers constructive criticism and feedback, not just agreement.
- Love can be viewed as a significant investment of time which can impact one’s life positively or negatively.
- A partner should ideally be someone who makes one better and contributes positively to one’s life goals.
- Having a supportive partner can provide mental relaxation and contribute to personal improvement.
- Finding love shouldn’t be rushed, and it's essential to seek a partner who adds value to one’s life.
- Personal growth and improvement are integral to a deeply loving relationship.