It's easy for a small business to turn on a social media channel. But what does it take to actually build a social media following that generates more business?
For some timely tips heading into 2023, we reached out to Jay Neo -- an 18-year-old video expert and social media content strategist for MrBeast -- which currently is the most subscribed to individual on YouTube. Those videos have attracted hundreds of millions of views, with one halloween special generating 200 million views in just three weeks. Neo, based in the United Kingdom, has worked across many channels in the past, amassing over 4 billion over the past two years.
What social media and video guidance does he have for SMB entrepreneurs? Neo shared some key thoughts in this ChannelE2E interview...
ChannelE2E: Let’s talk about WHY you make videos. What’s the motivation — and what steps did you take to get the ball rolling”
Neo: Making videos is a science as much as it is an art. To consistently reach virality in this space, you need to be making optimized content -- it’s a simple concept in theory, but a complicated one in practice.
One of the biggest factors that ensures a video's success is audience retention – a statistic more people need to focus on. I love studying the human mind to maintain the viewers attention, working out why people click off, and how I can prevent that in future videos.
I am extremely passionate about this singular statistic, and seeing that graph improve on each video is my biggest motivator. Oh, and the fact that this obsession can result in 100 million people seeing your work is also quite motivating.
ChannelE2E: You mentioned audience retention – are there any other statistics you focus on when producing a viral video?
Neo: To me, retention isn't just a statistic – it's a fantastic way of seeing if your viewer enjoyed your video. We look at the graph rather than the number, noticing dips and working out why they happened. If any business was to take anything away from this interview, it would be look at your retention graphs!
If 80% of your viewers scrolled off before the payoff, then there is a significantly less chance they will engage with the video. So yeah, there are a lot of other statistics like CTR (Click Through Rate) and engagement percentages, but my main focus is retention.
ChannelE2E: As you look at the business world – particularly small businesses – are there common mistakes that SMBs make with their digital and social media strategies?
Neo: Yes. I see it all the time. Most startups are averaging 200 to 2.000 views a video, that could and should be 50-fold higher. The rise in short-form content, particularly on apps like TikTok or features like YouTube Shorts, have provided an unprecedented opportunity for companies to take advantage of organic viral marketing.
One of the most common mistakes I see businesses doing is blindly assuming that viewers care. They don’t. If TikTok can see that viewers are scrolling in the first two seconds, it will never promote that video to more people's feeds. You have to really try and make the viewer care.
A lot of companies need to realize that in this new space, audience attention is a valuable commodity. If your video doesn't initiate that primal spark in the viewer, it will never reach its full potential.
Businesses should take a more structural approach to making content, obsessing over telling a compelling story that millions of viewers can get attached to, rather than just posting an advertisement that a couple dozen people will see.
ChannelE2E: Have you adjusted your own social strategy to engage certain social media platforms or groups?
Neo: Well at MrBeast we adjust our social strategy everyday. These platforms are ephemeral, and we want to stay on top of them. If you’re not constantly shifting your own little paradigms, your content will become mundane, and no one will care.
ChannelE2E: Are there certain social media platforms that you’ve reduced focus on? If so, why?
Neo: Not really. Personally, apps like Instagram and Twitter provide enjoyment, and apps like TikTok and YouTube provide a great platform to reach a massive audience. I really think TikTok has no visible ceiling, companies should take advantage of that.
ChannelE2E: As we look ahead to 2023, how do you think businesses can best assess and fine-tune their current social strategies?
Neo: 2023 is another year where we will see short form content explode. I think companies should be hiring obsessive people who understand what it takes to make a viral video. A lot of social media managers have no idea what they’re doing. But they will get a video with 200,000 views and sell you on the idea that they can do the same thing for your company -- which they can’t.
If companies want to reach a massive audience, they should be thinking big, like really big. Insane spectacles that might not even be directly related to the product can still cause a massive increase in brand awareness.
Also, remember that you can get millions of views even with zero followers. Businesses should look internally and ask themselves why they are not getting millions of views -- it’s not luck.
If your product is too boring to go viral on TikTok on its own, then do a spectacle, make it exciting by doing something crazy.