John Green Helps Mental Floss Succeed with Magazine Videos

Mental Floss — a quirky magazine focusing on knowledge and trivia — has become an unlikely online video success story by deploying author and YouTube star John Green. Before writing “The Fault in Our Stars” and other acclaimed novels, the author worked for the magazine. A year ago, Green started “The List Show,” a weekly YouTube post for Mental Floss. His short segments reach millennials, boosting views to 81 million since February 2013, easily beating most magazine video competition.

Examples of John Green’s videos include “26 Amusing Facts About Amusement Parks” and “25 Famous People Who Were Once Interns.”

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While Mental Floss sees an average of 921,000 views per video, Wired sees 55,700 and Vogue sees 17,700.

Mental Floss’s impressive YouTube numbers are something of an outlier for the magazine industry, which has hailed video as a way to counter its declining financial prospects,” reports The New York Times. “Making money in online video has been especially perplexing to some of the biggest magazine brands, which have poured money into producing high-quality video content.”

Despite the amount of money that companies like Condé Nast and Time put into promoting their videos, neither has reached the viewership that Mental Floss enjoys.

Make and Seventeen have reached success. Not only do these publications reach millennials, but they also take into account the fact that what works on TV does not necessarily work on YouTube.

“What works in the YouTube system is different from what works on other platforms,” said Ann Shoket, editor-in-chief of Seventeen magazine. “What makes the YouTube stars so compelling is that they are so candid and so real and they talk to their viewers like they are their friends.”