In a nutshell

  • Growth comes from making content that matters to viewers
  • Any topic can be meaningful if explained in a way that communicates its importance
  • Mark Rober uses storytelling to explain complex topics in a way that is easy to understand and draws people into his content

YouTube has no shortage of content. As the world’s second-largest search engine, it’s pretty clear why viewers come in droves searching for content that is entertaining or informative. With tens of thousands of hours being uploaded every day, it is difficult to find content that’s both. But sometimes, with luck, you find channels that can bridge the gap between the two. When the stars align, and the algorithm is working in our favor, you get something a little extra. The merger of entertainment and information cannot be observed more easily than through content creator Mark Rober.

Who is Mark Rober?

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to become a YouTube sensation. Except, in Mark’s case, that’s exactly what it takes. Mark is a trained mechanical engineer with degrees from BYU and USC. He spent nine years working for NASA’s JPL labs and seven of those years working on the Curiosity Rover currently cruising the landscape of Mars. Mark then spent five years with Apple designing special projects. 

In the past few years, Mark switched from being an employee at a Fortune 500 company to a full-time Youtube content creator. And if you thought his engineering career was astonishing, prepare for liftoff. In his online career, Mark has created some incredibly fun videos from “The World’s Largest Super Soaker” to “World’s Largest Jello Pool- Can you swim in Jello?” and from the “Rocket Powered Golf Club at 100,000 FPS” to “Automatic Bullseye, MOVING DARTBOARD.” Each video is both fun and educational, and it’s these types of videos that bring in nearly 60 million viewers per month. Today, Mark’s YouTube channel has nearly 23 million subscribers.

Mark also leans heavily into the scientific method by revisiting concepts that he believes he can make better. Two of the most popular video series of this type are Backyard Squirrel Maze and the Exploding Glitter Bomb. The Backyard Squirrel Maze series (currently version 3.0 in 2022) has totaled more than 190 million views. The Exploding Glitter Bomb series (currently version 4.0 in 2022) has over 230 million views.

How does he do it?

Mark Rober with the world’s largest Super Soaker. Source: Mark Rober

Mark’s affable nature does a bit of the heavy lifting here. He comes across as approachable, like a great science teacher. But it’s his storytelling ability that really draws us into his world. It would be pretty easy for the average viewer to get lost in some of the advanced scientific processes that go into one of his videos, but Mark takes care to explain the concept in digestible bites without resorting to technical jargon. He achieves this by taking more time to craft his videos. He only releases a video once a month, showing that quantity isn’t always better than quality on YouTube.

Additionally, Mark brings a key element to storytelling to draw viewers in: dramatic effect. For example, in the wildly popular “Backyard Squirrelympics 3.0- The Summer Games,” Mark gave each competitor a name. By getting audiences to buy into the squirrel names, Mark utilizes one of the most-effective messaging techniques, the appeal to pathos. Suddenly, the audience has subconsciously chosen their favorite and is actively cheering for them. 

Mark also wears a white hat. Well, not literally. Literally, he generally wears a baseball cap, but he comes from a place of doing good for society. By doing videos to expose rigged carnival games or purifying swamp water to drink, Mark shows us that not all heroes wear capes. Nothing illustrates this more than the Exploding Glitter Bomb series of videos. Mark went to work designing and building a bait package that uses glitter and stink spray to make thieves pay the price for stealing packages from his front door. Now on version 4.0, Mark continues to refine the process and fight the good fight.

Mark Rober with his thief deterring Exploding Glitter Bomb. Source: Mark Rober

Never work a day in your life.

One thing that is overwhelmingly clear is that Mark Rober loves what he does. For years he has brought energy and playfulness to his videos. It is that passion for what he does that gives Mark the opportunity to do some real good in the world. In 2020, Mark teamed up with fellow YouTuber, MrBeast, to raise $20 million for the #TeamTrees campaign. Their goal was to plant 20 million trees around the world (24 million to date). Then in 2021, the pair launched the #TeamSeas campaign to raise $30 million. This time their goal was to remove 30 million pounds of trash from the world’s oceans (33 million to date). Also, in 2021, Mark teamed up with TV host Jimmy Kimmel to raise money for the NEXT for Autism with a three-hour livestream event that pulled in over three million dollars.

Even as Mark’s channel grows to an astronomical size, he always is genuine to himself and what he loves. And his audience is here for it, no matter what science topic Mark chooses to discuss.