$16 Million for Trees: Influencer Marketing At Its Best

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Article Takeaways:

  • Example of a successful influencer campaign from top to bottom
  • How influencers can work with commercial partners on projects that have wider, social impact whilst creating mutual benefit.
  • How your brand can use influencer marketing as part of its strategy

In an age where brand purpose is attracting both Millennial and Gen Z audiences, understanding the true effectiveness of YouTube influencer marketing for authentic, meaningful marketing, is a necessary ingredient for brand success. By analyzing a recent campaign that raised the bar for social impact, the #TeamTrees campaign, we will unpack exactly how your brand can harness the power of influencer marketing at its very best.

The YouTubers

Let’s first get into how this campaign started. The Arbor Day Foundation and many of YouTube’s largest personalities — Jimmy Donaldson (aka MrBeast), Mark Rober, Destin Sandlin (aka SmarterEveryDay), and many others came together to start the campaign #TeamTrees with the goal of raising 20 million dollars to plant 20 million trees within two months. Born out of a Reddit meme, MrBeast, who is known for creative stunts like these, listened to his fans after asking how he should celebrate his 20 millionth YouTube subscriber. Across three coordinated videos, the #TeamTrees campaign was launched on October 25th.

As we unpack the campaign, it is important to note it’s not a celebrity endorsement piece. The audiences are very different to a traditional TV campaign.

The Effect

In addition to tens of millions of views, Mark Rober, SmarterEveryDay, and MrBeast’s videos received 600,000, 82,000, and 2.6M engagements (likes and comments) respectively. Supporters began popping up left, right and center including Toby Lütke, Elon Musk, Jack Dorsey, Ninja, Verizon, YouTube itself, and many others – all banded together to raise a combined total of $15 million. In less than a month.

As the campaign grows, these YouTubers continue to expand their own following. The more it spreads, the more talk there is, and the closer they get to their goal. Support is coming from everywhere, not just life-long fans. For any type of campaign (political, advocacy, media, brand) engagement is key. The power of influencers comes not just from views but from the energy they spread to their fans to speak up and advocate alongside them.

The Creative

Another key to the power of creators especially on YouTube, is their ability to tell stories. What were these videos exactly? And How was the creative designed?

Here’s the breakdown:

Hundreds of YouTubers posted on the same date, October 25th, to help generate buzz, but let’s focus on the three where the creative specifically coordinated with each other.

  1. Mr.Beast’s video “Planting 20,000,000 Trees, My Biggest Project Ever!” is a humorous, documentary-style video where MrBeast and his friends learn exactly how to plant trees alongside The Arbor Foundation. MrBeast introduces fellow YouTuber, Mark Rober, and sets the stage for the campaign by energizing his followers about the scale of the campaign, what it means for the entire YouTube community, and how to get involved — teamtrees.org.
  2. Mark Rober, a former Nasa engineer and designer of Nasa’s Mars Rover, created a 13-minute video called “Using Drones to Plant 20,000,000 Trees.” He connects to MrBeast’s video seamlessly by showing the same tree-planting footage but in his own editing style, for his audience. As a science influencer he explains the science behind trees, and the process he underwent to design a drone that plants many trees at once. He seems to end the video after discussing the power his audience has to end the year on a high note and pushes them to go donate.
  3. Destin Sandlin’s video “How to Plant 20 Million Trees” begins with the community theme, describing how many YouTubers are involved in this campaign. As the true scientist-family-man he is, he then cuts to his Dad who talks about his family’s history with trees. He dives into the science behind the species of trees in a highly educational concept for the majority of the 13-minute video. At the end, Destin and his dad cook a meal for Destin’s mom, as Destin mentions that his donation is sponsored by HelloFresh, a meal-kit company.

Influencer Marketing

So, what are the key takeaways from this campaign and how can your brand use influencer marketing to get involved in something like this in the future? The Outloud Group, the influencer-marketing agency involved in some of the brand sponsorships associated with these videos, has laid out the following guide:

1. In all three videos, the audience was immediately engaged. Why? Because they specifically asked for the idea and for the collaborations that occurred. Creators have special relationships with their audiences, and when they execute on audience feedback, the bond grows stronger, and so does the audience’s future engagement with the creator’s content.

Brand advice: Follow trends, and find influencers that are specifically
involved or attached to them. Attach yourself to something that is growing,
and your reach will follow.

2. Each creator stayed true to their style and unique creative voice in three videos about the same thing. This appealed to their audiences who subscribe to see the content they enjoy and identify with. Even when sponsorship was involved.

Brand advice: Let the creators stay creative. Separate your brand voice and let YouTubers advocate for you in their own way. This only makes you seem more authentic and gets you the “good humans that care about the earth” advocacy that Rober gave Wix. Now Wix is tied to social impact, commitment, and Rober’s humor. The same thing could happen to your brand if you’re willing to let go of the creative reigns.

3. YouTube influencer marketing takes time. This campaign was designed over many months, and the brands involved had to be patient as the creators worked their magic to design long videos that involved large groups.

Brand/Agency advice: Give creators time, stay on top of the logistics, and be flexible with anything that requires detail. To pull off a campaign at this scale you need to be patient and understand that this will be a huge time commitment for your company in order to reap the benefits that will impact your brand for its lifetime.

We were excited to be working with creators that are using their platforms to influence the planet in a positive way. The results of this campaign will literally continue to grow for years to come.

Cait Christian

Marketing Manager at The Outloud Group

Latest posts by Cait Christian (see all)


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