17 Sep 2013

A Sleeper Hit

Economics 17 Comments

I always get email notifications that people are leaving comments on this video:

I barely ever click on them, but for kicks I did, and the guy said, “I’m glad this video has so few views…I feel bad for your students Murphy” (or something like that).

So I was curious and checked it, and there are 63,000+ views. Holy frick.

I’m being serious: Explain to me why this video has so many views. It’s over 10 minutes long. There is no cleavage. No cats. What’s going on here?

One obvious factor is that somehow it got into the circles of pro-Reich people. (Doesn’t that look like a Nazi thing?) But OK, fine, how do I do that some more? I’m not saying I want to have a formulaic approach to getting big YouTube views, but I would like to understand exactly why this video took off.

17 Responses to “A Sleeper Hit”

  1. Jonathan Finegold says:

    I don’t know if this is the case for your other videos, but Google searching shows that the video was linked to by a large number of blogs/websites (including Tom Woods and Lew Rockwell, who probably have give you a good number of views).

    • Bob Murphy says:

      JF, yes, I got a huge boost upfront because I think Tom posted it in both spots (i.e. he can post on the LRC blog). But then I think it tapered off, went quiet for a few months, and then exploded again with a bunch of haters in the comments. So somehow it found its way to a progressive site.

      But we’re just pushing back the question: Why did this video deserve to be ripped by progressives, instead of my other ones? I’m guessing it’s a combo of:

      (a) high production value
      (b) intriguing title
      (c) very political and apparently partisan (even though I’m no Republican, I sound like I’m a Gingrich loving Obama hater in this one)
      (d) talks about income inequality rather than capital reswitching
      (e) I’m unusually cocky in this one.
      (f) the big boost from friends gave it wide exposure to increase the chance that a big blogger progressive would even see it.

      Actually i think I just solved the mystery.

      • Jonathan Finegold says:

        Plus, Robert Reich is popular, and you’re criticisms are challenging — it invites hating.

      • Bharat says:

        It’s because of the platform you posted it on. Robert Reich is associated with The Young Turks (through their “The Point” channel, at least), who are huge on YouTube. Reich has a lot of followers on YouTube because of that association, so attacking him on YouTube is likely to get a lot of views in the long run.

        Krugman, meanwhile, while still well known, isn’t popular in the same sense on YouTube. So making a video about him probably won’t get a lot of attention just because of the platform (I mean this like it won’t get attention due specifically to the platform, but it could get a lot of views for other reasons).

        My 2 cents ^

  2. skylien says:


    Imagine the view count if you would have hired Catwoman to hold your upward sloping graph in that video…

  3. Jim PM says:

    I’ve never watched that video before, but I can tell you that it’s been in my feed a ton of times, either as a recommendation, as search result, or just randomly showing up somewhere.

  4. Slywalker says:

    The analytics menu on your youtube channel provides you with info on traffic sources, doesn’t it? In terms of what search terms people used to find the video and outside links etc.

  5. Michael says:

    you should put a link to this blog on that video, so people can read up on more of what you write.

  6. Neil says:

    Here are the reasons: It was informative. It was easy to understand for the layman. It was well organized in that it refuted Reich point by point using widely accepted data. It didn’t overanalyze anything. You appeared to be sincere about promoting the truth about the situation instead of simply proving Reich wrong to boost your own ego. The title of the video, “The Truth About Robert Reich”, is intriguing in that it insinuates that you have some sort of dirt on Reich himself. There was a touch of humor where you pretend to draw the charts yourself. It was better than the Karaoke videos.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      It was better than the Karaoke videos.

      That was completely unnecessary!

      • Joseph Fetz says:

        Especially considering that Bob is the *only* karaoke economist around. Come on!

        • Warren says:

          His karaoke fetish is why he’s not allowed to post on the LRC blog.

  7. Innocent says:

    Bob, How dare you suggest that decreased power in Government would create less Cronyism. I mean honestly if Government does not interfere then we will never get things like battery powered cars because the market will not support them without Government Subsidies… Sheesh.

    The sad part is too many people do not understand that real success is typically because you have done something right ( excluding banks ).

    So maybe this question is out of place but I think I have grown to really dislike Fractional Reserve Banking… Thoughts anyone? In my mind it is simply a set up to a recession at this point. Is there really a ‘safe’ level of FR? If so then technically why have it does it not simply set the line higher but once you met that mark you are stuck at the same growth rate? so on a number line where you are at 3.5% growth per year it not bump you up say to a $500 Billion higher amount and then persist at that level? Just my thinking and perhaps I am wrong but then it would track whether you had it or not right?

    Again just me thinking through the situation and I know there are complexities with any kind of macro economic question but honestly it would be a one time injection and then nothing more unless you went beyond those levels would it not?

  8. Sam says:

    I wrote you a mail at the time you put it out because I thought it was so good(you responded kindly btw) and well done. It worked because you are positioned as almost a defender of the Republican as you noticed as well. In that mail I told that this should be your strategy. Present yourself as the Tea Party Defender or something similar(North already has Tea Party Economist). You go in stealth pretending to speak for the cause.

    It is similar to how Ann Coulter who is a bright person at times gets away with saying very un-PC things that the Conservative and Republican establishment would never say like her criticism of immigration for example. She gets away with that because she is otherwise a loud mouth foot soldier on every other issue(still defends Bush). Doesn’t mean you should change your views but when you want to reach the masses just use a little populism. You have done that before in book form(Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism). Just throw in some jokes at the expense of liberals every now and then.

    Of course it could slightly dent your rep in the blogosphere but being a jerk(even a little one) works and you’re still way better than all the ones you will battle anyway(Krugman,Delong,etc)

  9. Chris P says:

    Reich is beloved by the left for being one of the few guys willing to bite the bullet on minimum wages, unions, etc. I suspect that is why so many watched.

    By the way did you guys see this doozy from him earlier this week?


    • Bala says:

      It looks like the guy just doesn’t understand what the term free market means.

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