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Book Review: The Viral Video Manifesto: Why Everything You Know is Wrong and How to do What Really Works by Stephen Voltz and Fritz Grobe

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Remember the widely watched video a few years ago that showed two guys in white lab coats dropping 500 Mentos mints into 100 bottles of Coca-Cola? According to a new book by those two guys, The Viral Video Manifesto: Why Everything You Know is Wrong and How to do What Really Works, that video has been viewed by over 100 million people since it was created in 2006.

Stephen Voltz and Fritz Grobe have gathered their best advice for what works and what doesn’t work in creating videos that people will want to watch and send to their friends, family, and others so that they can also watch. They center the book on four core principles they have determined to be the best formula for creating videos that grab attention and have the potential to go viral.

Those four viral video principles include:

1. When creating videos, be true and create personal connections between the creator and the audience.
2. Get to the point quickly and don’t waste the viewers’ time.
3. Be unforgettable by offering something different and unique.

4. Make it all about humanity and show the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

The authors offer:

“Viral video is the twenty-first century sideshow. Before we started making viral videos, our expertise was in theatrical circus. Stephen had a one-man show. Fritz was a world-record-setting juggler and toured with the Cirque deu Soleil spinoff. Between the two of us, we’ve spent decades examining the fundamental principles of this type of performance and putting them into action.”

The tips and techniques apply to those creating videos for personal and professional reasons. There are four chapters aimed directly at marketers. The book includes QR codes for most of the videos referenced by the authors. Readers can view the videos with their Smartphone or watch online by visiting viralvideomanifesto.com.

Case studies for the viral videos are included in the last chapter of the book. Each case study describes what the video is about and how the four principles apply to the video.

One of the most interesting points in the book is that the authors believe that viral video is NOT about recording a story. They write, “This may sound sacrilegious, but the evidence for it is overwhelming. Contrary to popular belief, and unlike all other film and video, viral video is not about story.”

Instead, the authors maintain throughout the book, viral video is about the sideshow. Their experiences have shown that viral videos are all about “the hook and delivering on the hook.”

The Viral Video Manifesto offers great insights into creating a viral sensational video. It offers details on what to create and leaves out any technical details such as what type of video camera to use or uploading instructions. For those looking for theories for video creation, the book is a helpful reference guidebook.

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