Whether Chris Hansen was arrested for child molestation or not, he's catching clicks for it
Many people know Chris Hansen as the host of the NBC's To Catch a Predator – an undercover reality show that aims to catch potential sexual predators. Or that is how many people knew him – now, they may think of him as a man arrested for child molestation thanks to a recent search explosion. Marketers can take searches for this scandal (which may be scandalously false) as an indication that trending topics catch clicks.
The search phrase "chris hansen arrested for child molestation" is currently "on fire" by Google Trends' standards, and it is the fifth leading hot search term at press time. Multiple sources indicate it was the No. 1 searched term for two consecutive hours earlier this afternoon. A Google search reveals that the phrase "chris hansen arrested for child molestation" currently produces more than 1.3 million web results. Google Realtime Search results for the phrase show (at press time) consumers are tweeting, commenting and blogging about the story every couple of minutes, and there are more than 20 YouTube video results for the phrase.
Here's the kicker: it's likely not true. One news provider, Zap2it, explains that James William Hansen of Iowa was arrested earlier this week for "lascivious acts with a child," and the source claims NBC's Chris Hansen has not been arrested. Instead, one erroneous post sparked a massive rumor. The slanderous search frenzy is reminiscent of the Justin Bieber syphilis rumor that sparked countless Google searches, which Brafton reported on in June.
While businesses won't want to spread inaccurate content, these cases prove the power of Google Trends in catching clicks for companies who can produce relevant content. Yahoo's search-driven blog, the Upshot, which Brafton reported on this summer, produces content based entirely on trending topics. Marketers can adopt a similar strategy on their sites by offering consumers news about the latest industry-relevant trending issues.