Home Lead MrBeast Just Explained a Tiny Change That Makes a Huge Difference

MrBeast Just Explained a Tiny Change That Makes a Huge Difference

(Most People Will Never Even Notice)It really is such a small change given the scope of what he's doing in the videos.

By Inc.Arabia Staff
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Let's talk about MrBeast.

First, let's make sure you know who he is. Basically, imagine everyone who has ever tried to become a bigtime creator and influencer on YouTube.

Then, consider the one individual whose success they'd all aspire to match. Right now, that's MrBeast. 

Officially named James Stephen Donaldson (or Jimmy), he has more than 181 million YouTube subscribers and has earned a reported $500 million or more over the years.

As for describing his videos, maybe we should just start with the first one that I think made him a big star, in which he simply counted out loud, from 1 to 100,000 during a 24-hour-long YouTube video.

It's addictive stuff: a lot of stunt videos, now with incredible scale.

In the most recent video uploaded to his channel, for example, Donaldson and his team do things like building and toppling the largest falling dominoes in history, and firing a rocket from a real military tank (actually tanks as it turns out) at a Lamborghini.

He's also known as "YouTube's biggest philanthropist."

Anyway, the point here isn't to send you down a rabbit hole of YouTube videos, which I admit is a risk. Instead, it's to talk about a tiny change that Donaldson says he made to the thumbnail images that preview his videos on YouTube, and how it paid off, bigtime.

He worked it out via an A/B test, and it really is such a small change given the scope of what he's doing in the videos:

  • In some thumbnail photos, the image of Donaldson had him with his mouth open, as if he were gasping in surprise.
  • In other thumbnail photos, the image of Donaldson had him smiling, with his mouth shut.

That's it: mouth open versus mouth shut. A change so small most people would never even notice. Everything else about the videos was the same. 

The result? People stuck around and watched the videos where he had smiling thumbnails, he said, longer than the ones in which he had a surprised face in the thumbnail.

"Now that I can actually A/B test thumbnails," he wrote on X (formerly known as Twitter), "I don't have to guess and I just test and see what people want. My mouth would have closed years ago if I'd had this tool."

Why does this work? I have no idea, and if Donaldson does, he's not saying. Maybe people subconsciously stick around longer if they expect happiness rather than shock? Who can tell?

The one thing I can tell you, however, is that there is a massive lesson here for anyone running any kind of business, or really anyone trying to get people to do specific things. 

That lesson is: A/B test lots of things -- meaning:

  1. Identify an objective you'd like to measure.
  2. Pick one small thing to try several different iterations of.
  3. Track how people respond to each iteration with regard to the result you identified.

To be less esoteric, a store might try running a "2 for the price of 1 sale," and a "50% off sale," which works out to the same discount, and see which one improves sales more.

  • Or a restaurant might try a menu board visible to one half of the seated customers that reads, "Check out Today's Specials" and one visible to the other half that reads, "Try Our Most Popular Items," and track which customers order or tip more.
  • Or you might do some of the more classic A/B tests -- things like changing the color or wording of the "Buy Now" button on your website, or sending an email with a discount code to half of your customer list in the morning and half in the evening, and then tracking purchase rates.
  • Or you might try firing a rocket from a tank at a Lamborghini, and firing one at a Ferrari, and see which one does more damage.

OK, that last one is a joke. But it's in the same spirit. A/B testing like this might or might not show you a tiny change that could have an outsize effect on your business.

But it can also be a lot of fun to try.

Photo Credit: Getty Images.

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