Mar 2, 2020

#TeamTrees - 2019’s Biggest Influencer-Driven Viral Success

Written by Dan Hughes

Not all influencer marketing campaigns are made equal. While the majority of brands have similar budgets and tools at their disposal, it can take some far longer to build awareness and yield results from their influencer marketing efforts.

On average, businesses earn $5.20 on every dollar spent on influencer marketing. But, despite a healthy potential return on investment (ROI), some influencer-based campaigns don’t quite hit the mark.

61% of marketers find sourcing relevant influencers for their campaigns a real challenge. And, naturally, working with an influencer that speaks to your target audience is pivotal to the success of any campaign, regardless of sector or niche.

So, what makes a successful influencer marketing campaign, exactly? Every campaign is different, and when it comes to earning results there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy. However, approaches do exist that will help you accelerate the success of your influencer marketing campaign.

To gain a deeper understanding of what makes a successful influencer marketing campaign, we’re going to look at #TeamTrees—arguably one of the most prolific influencer-led marketing initiatives of 2019, if not of all (internet) time.

Let’s start by shedding a little light on the influencer behind Team Trees, a certain MrBeast.

Who is MrBeast?

A US-based YouTuber commonly known as MrBeast, Jimmy Donaldson is responsible for a host of grand philanthropic stunts.

In a relatively short space of time (he has been active on YouTube since the age of 13 and is now 21), MrBeast has propelled himself to influencer fame with his charitable initiatives that involve the infectious style and antics you can only find on that platform. He currently boasts 29.1 million devout YouTube subscribers, and counting.

In 2019, MrBeast teamed up with Mark Rober, a former NASA engineer and popular science YouTuber, to launch Team Trees. This turned out to be an inspiring marketing combo—and a great idea for the planet.

#TeamTrees - 2019’s Biggest Influencer-Driven Viral Success

#TeamTrees: Reaching the Root of Success

Team Trees is a campaign that was born and lived online. When MrBeast reached 20 million YouTube subscribers in May 2019, he wanted to celebrate that fact. (Who wouldn’t?) A fan of his on Reddit challenged him to do something big, like plant 20 million trees, and soon the idea spread across social media through memes. And so the mammoth challenge was accepted and MrBeast launched #TeamTrees on 25th October 2019.

The premise was simple: a donation of just one dollar from each person would result in one tree being planted. Launched on 25th October 2019, the campaign gained momentum instantly, raising $5 million in just two days. From this initial $5 million, $1.75 million was generated from YouTube alone—which was of course their primary marketing channel.

#TeamTrees - 2019’s Biggest Influencer-Driven Viral Success

Every donation was sent directly to US non-profit the Arbor Day Foundation, the long-standing organization carefully selected for the logistics of the large scale tree-planting initiative.

Leveraging his incredible following across YouTube and social media, MrBeast sparked an influencer revolution, with a number of notable figures getting involved to achieve the 20 million tree goal.

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In total, more than 600 influencers joined forces to accelerate the success of Team Trees, using the hashtag #TeamTrees to spread the word and promote their individual efforts.

The celebrities and influencers that donated, and helped to promote the cause, included wildlife educator Coyote Peterson, YouTubers Alan Becker, Jeffree Star, PewDieDie, and the CEOs of YouTube, Twitter, Salesforce, and Shopify. Tesla’s Elon Musk was a notable contributor.

#TeamTrees - 2019’s Biggest Influencer-Driven Viral Success

In addition to direct plugs and donations, a host of sub campaigns and stunts emerged to help Team Trees reach its target.

A popular gaming YouTuber donated $10 for each kill during a Fortnite tournament. Also, one of Ireland’s most popular YouTube influencers hosted an eight-hour live feed that involved planting virtual trees on Minecraft (another wildly popular web-based game). This initiative alone raised $153,000 for the cause.

“Just to be clear we all realise 20m trees won't fix climate change. But at the end of the day 20m more trees is better than 0! We want to take action because doing nothing is how we got here!” MrBeast

By 1st January 2020, Team Trees had not only achieved its 20 million tree mission but exceeded its goal, an incredible achievement and a testament to the power of influencer marketing.

What’s interesting is the fact that YouTube has been criticized by Extinction Rebellion Youth action for supporting climate change deniers. But, recent data studies suggest that 16 and 24-year-olds that use the platform are active in the fight against the world’s most pressing environmental issues. It’s influencer initiatives like Team Trees that are helping to shape our views or attitudes towards climate change.

#TeamTrees - 2019’s Biggest Influencer-Driven Viral Success

Lessons from #TeamTrees’ for Effective Influencer Marketing

While very few influencer campaigns are likely to reach the viral status of Team Trees, there are key elements that will enhance the success of your campaigns. Here are the universal influencer marketing lessons we can learn from MrBeast’s iconic campaign:

Honesty: As an influencer, MrBeast is known for his honest, philanthropic style. In the case of Team Trees, the influencer not only shared his mission statement in a clear, concise way but he openly stated he hasn’t always been the most environmentally-conscious person, but wants to make a big change. His frank honesty and unwavering transparency resonated with patrons and influencers alike, laying solid roots for healthy campaign growth.

Authenticity: In a time when the climate crisis is a pivotal part of our collective consciousness the world over, MrBeast tapped into a communal sense of urgency with a well-timed mission that is authentic, positive, and essential in equal measures. By focusing on a topic that is inclusive and pledging to achieve something for the greater good, MrBeast created a level of momentum that spread across the web with force.

Aim: By making Team Trees goal-orientated, MrBeast was able to unlock the campaign’s full potential. When there is a target to achieve, people are more likely to work together to make it happen. Thus, the project created a sense of community that inspired hundreds of influencers to take an active stance in securing its success. And the fact that it only cost a single dollar to participate towards a positive change, made #TeamTrees most appealing to the average social media user. Every time a subsequent influencer shared the campaign with their following, its reach expands exponentially, catalyzing its success in the process. That said, nurturing relationships with a variety of influencers and setting them a communal target will increase urgency and boost brand awareness in a big way.

Assets: MrBeast created his Team Trees influencer marketing communications though YouTube, his primary social media platform. But, by creating the concise, catchy, and instantly recognizable hashtag #TeamTrees, the influencer was able to share his video assets across social media, generating mass engagement while making it easier for other influencers to get on board and spread the word. Before launching any influencer marketing campaign, it always pays to have your assets in place. Armed with video content, blog posts, infographics, a clearcut mission statement, and a powerful hashtag, you stand to create a perfect marketing storm.

There’s little doubt about it: Team Trees is one of the most successful influencer marketing campaigns of all time. Driven by a powerful mission, an ambitious goal, and an arsenal of influencer fire power, Team Trees became an enormous success, almost overnight. Take heed and you will be able to develop an influencer marketing campaign that is built for success.

For further insights, explore our guide to building an influencer marketing strategy.

Dan Hughes
Dan Hughes

Dan is a content writer specializing in digital marketing, emerging tech, music and looking after a toddler. You can find out more about him and his work by visiting his Catchy Space.

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