What’s more likely to get you to buy:

An advertisement from Walmart saying “our swim trunks are the best!”

Or, a Facebook Live video of a surfer talking about how great his new swim trunks are…the ones he bought from Walmart.

Our guess is the second option would be more likely to impact your buying decision (especially if you’re a surfer in the market for a fresh pair of gnar trunks!).

When it comes to video testimonials, there are a few fascinating agents at work behind the scenes. To understand (and ultimately tap into) the true power of video testimonials, we need to get to the bottom of the hidden forces and consumer trends.

So, what should we start with? The human psychology? Or content consumption? Let’s start with the fun stuff.

Caution: Social Proof–Extremely Potent

Our hypothetical video of the surfer taps into a powerful psychological phenomenon known as social proof.

Social Proof is the idea that seeing other people perform an action proves the correctness of that behavior–think “herd mentality.”

Whether you know it or not, you’ve seen social proof in action.

It’s the reason for everyone taking turns filling through a single open door to, say, a train station, even if there are three other doors they could use (or, at the very least, it’s the reason we might hesitate before trying these other doors).

Maybe you’ve seen it at a traffic light with multiple turning lanes–most drivers file into one lane, even at the risk of not making the light, because that’s where the other turning cars have lined up. Look for it the next time you pull up to a traffic light with a center lane for turning.

Part of this “monkey see monkey do” monkey business is the brain’s inherent laziness. There’s so much information for your brain to process all the time! Your brain is always looking for shortcuts.

The other part of this behavior stems from social proof.

You want to be “normal” and fit in. Mimicking other behaviors is helpful in making sure you pick the “right” behavior. As a human, especially when you’re unsure of what to do, you typically don’t want to stand out.

As Dr. Robert Cialdini points out in his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, going along with the “social evidence” generally allows us to make fewer mistakes than going against the grain. If everyone’s doing it, it must be the right thing to do. “They must know something I don’t.”

Social proof is an extremely powerful psychological agent. You’re probably starting to see how social proof can be used for pure evil to benefit your marketing strategies.

Tapping into Social Proof as a Marketing Tactic

When it comes to marketing, social proof can make something seem much easier to buy. A satisfied customer is much better at assuaging fears and allaying doubts than your marketing team (no offense). As a company, you can’t fabricate social proof and expect it to work on your customers. Social proof is strengthened, Cialdini says, when the people we’re watching are more similar to us.

The power of user stories lies in the ability of testimonials to build trust where your ads cannot. When you speak about your product, you’re marketing (and consumers usually see right through it). When happy customers speak about your product, it’s “the truth.” And that “truth” can be even more compelling when your viewers see a bit of themselves in the person giving the testimonial.

The Power of the User Review

Two powerful elements–social proof and storytelling–come together to form a powerhouse tool in internet marketing: user reviews and testimonials.

Think about it–human cultures have evolved through storytelling. It’s one of the big things that sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. Before alphabets, before everyone could read and write, before star-rating systems and data collection, there were just stories, passed down orally.

Stories have served as a way to communicate, inspire, guide, entertain, and warn each other since we first began to tell them. Why is that important?

A single great story can hold more weight than mere data points (like a star rating system). According to a study by The Power of Reviews, 95% of shoppers consult customer reviews. Not just ratings, but full-on text reviews. The study also claims that more than 86% of consumers consider reviews to be essential when they’re making a purchase decision.

A strong testimonial (especially near the point of the buying decision) could be just the nudge your prospect needs to make that final click. When people are uncertain, they are more likely to use others’ behavior as their compass. Especially if they see some of themselves in those people.

The Case for the Video Review

Do you mind if we hit you with some quick stats?

According to Hyperfine Media, 90% of users find product videos to be helpful in their decision-making process. A full third of all online activity is spent watching a video. And 80% of users recall a video ad they’ve seen in the past 30 days.

Combine that with another study from The Power of Reviews that found that 72% of consumers look for visual content prior to making a purchase.

People want evidence. They want to be sure that they’ll get the outcome they’re paying for. Reviews are huge for them. Social proof is paramount. And video content has quickly become one of their favorite ways to get this information.

Plus, this study suggests that visuals can boost perceived truthiness.

By putting your user stories into video form, you’re attaching one of the most powerful psychological influences to the content vessel most consumed by prospects looking to make a buying decision.

Still not convinced? Just look around, everyone’s doing it…

Ready to get started? Contact us today and we will give you all the deets!

Elliott Regan

Plain ol’ Elliott Regan is a psychology fan, a writing man, and a member of a rock n’ roll ban…d. A triple threat in the loosest sense of the phrase, he likes to write about what makes people tick and what makes their screens flick. Apparently, he has a thing for rhymes. He’s ghosted pieces for a best-selling author whose byline appears in top-tier publications–but that’s a story he’ll only tell ‘round the campfire…

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