Last week, the world wondered if it had somehow miscalculated the extent of Ice Age extinction when video footage of what appeared to be a wooly mammoth crossing a Siberian river made the rounds on various forums and blogs. While anyone with even a slight speck of skepticism in their bones would deduce the footage is the clever work of a video effects whiz, the ‘could-it-be’ realism of the 24-second sequence was enough to generate a massive amount of attention for several days. Of course, those with the ability to resist sensationalism were in the right: the wooly mammoth video was the work of writer and videographer Ludovic Petho.
But for anyone looking for a way to get an unknown website or a brand a lot of attention in a short amount of time, well-thought out Internet hoaxes are a particularly artful option. The wooly mammoth video is simply a re-tooled version of the classic blurry Bigfoot sightings we’ve all seen on Unsolved Mysteries and similar television programming, the difference being that in the age of the viral video, such attention-grabbing footage is easily computed into immediate attention for an online entity. Something online that’s too good to be true, even if it is, is sure to at least be clicked on and linked to.
With that said, such Internet hoaxes should be done in good fun, and not directly exploit the hopes and fears of the public. For example, you don’t want to pretend that you can help people find their missing family members, only to have half your traffic deride from hopeful folks earnestly seeking your assistance. Not only is that heartless, it’s unsustainable as a means to attract long-term attention to your site, unless you count hate mail as attention.
So what are some good examples of successful web hoaxes? One that immediately comes to mind would be ThisMan.org, a site that sets up the premise that there’s a specific man that thousands of people around the world have been dreaming about for years. Detailed with various sketches of the man as well as testimony from dreamers, not to mention theories about the phenomenon and news updates, it’s undoubtedly believable. After years of existence the site is still able to pull a PageRank 3 and support an ad banner.
As far as well made viral video hoaxes go, nothing in recent memory has been as sophisticated in creation as “An Internet Story”, which examines a mysterious 2005 hunt for money that ended in the death of someone, though nobody can be sure who due to the anonymity of the web. If one looks past the fact that the 2005 Youtube interface looks incredibly modern, and that any video footage pertinent to an open homicide investigation would not be readily available for an online journalist to edit into their story, it’s a pretty convincing viral thriller. Anyone who owns the websites involved is certainly happy with the advertising revenue.
Creating an Internet hoax that causes mass interest and therefore high volumes of traffic is easier said than done. It requires a knack for knowing what makes for a fascinating story, and the skill to make it look convincing. But accomplish that, and you can turn a low-ranking website or brand into an overnight Internet sensation.
Author Bio:- This is a Guest Post written by Sam Peters, who frequently blogs about ways to successfully increase traffic on your website because most people think it takes a fortune teller to know whether their tactics will work.