Ever since the LonelyGirl phenomenon picked up steam, I had wondered how her videos went from 0-to-100. I assumed it was the work of someone in PR or buzz marketing (hey, I give you guys credit). Wired, in its very great cover story, finally got to the explanation behind the tipping point.
LONELYGIRL15'S FIRST VIDEO in late May had nothing to do with her. In fact, Beckett and Flinders hadn't even found an actress to play the part. But this first clip laid the groundwork for everything that was to come. One of the most popular vloggers on YouTube at the time was a teenager named Emily who had tired of all the attention. After some users posted disparaging remarks (one called her an "attention whore" and another a "video slut"), she decided to quit vlogging. But a few weeks later, she uploaded a new video, quipping that she'd taken a break because dinosaurs had attacked her house. A day or two after that, a new user named Lonelygirl15 posted an animated scene of a dinosaur stomping on a house, intercut with Emily's original videos.
It was a sly move: Post a video that comments on an already-popular vlogger and piggyback on the existing audience. Emily's fans loved it and offered a deluge of comments, giving Lonelygirl15 instant cred. Viewers praised this funny, creative new vlogger, encouraged her to keep the videos coming, and signed up to receive her future clips.