Many marketers may not recognize the name Fantasia Barrino, but online audiences do.

Many marketers may not recognize the name Fantasia Barrino, but online audiences do. The former American idol star has made it toward the top of Google Trends several times in the past 72 hours for an alleged sex tape and then a reported drug overdose. Organizations in the medical, entertainment and news industries have generated traffic to their sites and created popular linkbait by covering this story, and the good fortune these institutions are experiencing over Ms. Barrino’s recent misfortunes demonstrates the need for marketers to offer consumers timely content relevant to their industries.

Reports came out last weekend that the singer was a “home wrecker” when Paula Cook claimed Barrino had filmed explicit videos with her now ex-husband, Antwuan. By Monday night, “Fantasia sextape” ranked as one of the top 20 U.S. searches in Google Trends. Searchers’ frenzy for information on Barrino was only further fueled when the singer was found in her home unconscious, reportedly from a drug overdose. On Tuesday, “Fantasia overdose” ranked in the top 15 Google Trends search terms. The hot news only gets hotter as more information about Barrino’s medical status unfolds. At press time, “Fantasia overdose” ranked in the top five U.S. search terms, and it was the number one query for several consecutive hours today.

The phrase “Fantasia’s overdose” produces nearly 2.5 million web results and more than 500 news results – all generated within the past 48 hours. Meanwhile, “Fantasia’s sextape” produces close to 10 million web results, created from Saturday to present. The proliferation of these stories only encourages further searches and moves the query higher in Google Trends. Plus, many of these web results are serving as linkbait for the sponsoring sites, with Twitter users rapidly retweeting related stories, as evidenced by a Twitter search for “Fantasia sextape“.

Marketers in the entertainment industry may take away a valuable lead from this story, but all marketers should take it as an example of the power of embracing Google Trends relevant to a business to generate traffic to a site.

In an age where ExactTarget reports that 21 percent of U.S. consumers are news junkies who regularly scour the web for the latest, it’s increasingly important for businesses to offer consumers breaking information with respect to their industries. Notably, readers could convert into customers, as ExactTarget reports news junkies are open to supporting sites that sponsor stories that are of interest to them.  

Katherine Griwert is Brafton's Marketing Director. She's practiced content marketing, SEO and social marketing for over five years, and her enthusiasm for new media has even deeper roots. Katherine holds a degree in American Studies from Boston College, and her writing is featured in a number of web publications.