Every once in a while I will come across a beautifully orchestrated hoax and ask myself, why would someone do this? Having too much free time on your hands and temporary Internet celebrity aside, a carefully crafted hoax can be leveraged to your advantage.
Case in point is the still unsubstantiated Google TV hoax, courtesy of Mark Erickson of “Infinite Solutions”.
The video that purports to show you how to get an invitation to beta test the yet-unannounced Google TV, was uploaded to YouTube and has so far been viewed more than 124,000 times in 3 days. The video was picked up by TechCrunch, then got submitted to Digg, where it reached the home page and received more than 2,100 Diggs.
If the video itself turns out to be a hoax (as most industry pundits have already labeled it) its views will not increase substantially. What’s more interesting is what the popularity of this one video has done for other content created and submitted by Mr. Erickson. At the end of the second video posted by Erickson (which has been viewed over 55,000 times) he tells the viewers that he is going to post another update about Google TV soon, but until he does that they should check out other content produced by him and share it with their friends. In effect, he leverages the popularity of one video to drive traffic to his other videos.
Even if he hadn’t said that, most people that go to YouTube, upon finding an interesting video, will look at other content produced or uploaded by the same user. So by creating one viral video that in the long-run may not even provide any value to the viewer, you can attract an audience to the rest of your content. If it’s good then the viewers will most likely subscribe to the subsequently produced content. You can see this in the large number of views that Erickson’s other videos have gotten.
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