Be (Super) Human

October 24, 2013

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Alyce Currier


Video is great for a lot of reasons: it’s entertaining, scalable, digestible, shareable, and helpful for SEO. But video’s most important superpower is actually quite simple: it reveals the human side of your business.

There was a time when almost any purchase you made, whether commodity or service, required having a conversation with someone. We all know that’s changed, and there’s something beautiful and oh-so-2013 about being able to sit in your room, at 3 a.m., without pants on, realize your floor is kind of dirty, and comparison-shop on Amazon for the best vacuum cleaner right then and there.

However, the removal of human interaction comes at a cost. In some situations, we crave interpersonal guidance, not to mention the immeasurable things that a human can bring to the table: increased trust, clearer understanding, or a deeper connection to a brand.

Video is so powerful because it lets us be human in a way that scales infinitely with our online marketing. There’s no set recipe for using video to build these personal connections, but here are a few of our favorite examples:

Imitating the small storefront experience

A magic trick is a promise to surprise and delight somebody. People are inherently skeptical of those things, and we don’t have any idea how the trick is supposed to play out, so video is perfect for showing us that it works. A magic trick is precisely the type of product that benefits from the authenticity of seeing someone use it on video. has incorporated videos into their online store to great effect. You can feel the same kind of rapport with Peter and Jackie Monticup, the owners, that you would if you walked into a physical shop:

Peter of demonstrates the Linking Rings magic trick.
“Online customers want to feel safe. They want to be assured that they are dealing with a real person who can answer their questions and fix their problems. With a simple video, you can reach your hand right through the computer screen and introduce yourself, just as if they were walking into your store. People will shop with you, and will come back again and again, because they like you and think they know you personally.”
Jackie Monticup, (@magictrickscom)”
## Building rapport with on-screen instructors There are countless resources available online for learning how to speak the ever-more-important language of that computer thing you stare at all day. Here at Wistia, many of the fledgeling programmers have chosen Code School. They’ve won us over in a few different ways: the gamification appeals to our love for friendly competition, and the information is well-organized into digestible chunks, with quizzes and practice problems to help internalize the lessons. But one often-overlooked thing that Code School gets right is that they always include the instructor in their videos, rather than just a voice-over. By the time you’ve finished any of their courses, you feel like you’ve gotten to know the instructor, and that makes learning all the more pleasant. The first level of Code School’s “Try iOS” video course.
“When it comes to online video there is nothing that puts learners to sleep quicker than a screen of code and a disembodied voice. That’s why at Code School we use a green screen technique to put our teachers right there, inside the video. The exception to this is when we need our watchers to be focused on complex code, then it’s okay to not show the instructor. However, the moment we pause the action and start giving explanations or theory we bring the instructor back on screen to keep our watchers engaged.”
Gregg Pollack, Code School (@greggpollack)”
## Sharing expertise with a dash of personality Paul Stoltzfus of lawn care company Wisegrass started using video on a periodic basis to offer tips to his customers. The videos may not be high budget or flashy, but they’ve proven to be very effective for growing his audience, establishing him not only as an expert in his line of work but also as someone who’s friendly and trustworthy, someone who you’d like to work with. A video about winter lawn care from Wisegrass’s blog. It may seem counterintuitive, but by offering up some of his expertise for free, Paul has helped, not hurt, his business:
“Woohoo! When people see me in person they can’t help but like me. Here’s my little secret. People are pretty much into themselves and stuff they like. People don’t like control. So …  get a little ’almost out of control’ like an Olympic skier who is flipping moguls at a nail-biting pace just avoiding a pool-flailing, ski-snapping disaster. Even a fool can blabber senselessly over the edge. Heroes stay the course. Like. It helps to know your shit. Amen.”
Paul Stoltzfus, Wisegrass (@wisegrass)”
## Leaving a video voicemail BambooHR’s video content spans marketing, sales, and beyond, but one of our favorites that felt appropriate to highlight in this post is their sales team’s video voicemails, like the one below: A video voicemail from Sarah at BambooHR. These single-shot videos, which they send out in addition to regular voicemails and email follow-ups, are a super approachable take on the standard sales call. Even if the verbal content is almost exactly the same as you’d receive in a typical voicemail, seeing a human face makes a massive difference. “Over evolutionary time, the ability to quickly extract information from faces has given us an edge in predicting character and behavior. It helps us to discern who’s sick and whom to trust, who’s flirtworthy, and who might blow up at a moment’s notice … Snap judgments about faces are not fail-safe, but they are far too accurate to ignore,” says Psychology Today in “What’s in a Face”. By adding a visual component to this first call, BambooHR humanizes the process of lead follow-up and jump-starts a more personal relationship with the person on the other end of the line.
“Video for us is a window into our culture. It lets people see into the guts of Bamboo, what makes us tick. We’ve got an amazing team of really nice, smart people who genuinely care about helping others; video provides a certain transparency that lets people see that. It brings our company culture to life, and I think people like that. They like to know they’re dealing with real humans who care and are willing to give you their time. We typically use employees in our videos, and constantly have customers and prospects saying, ”Hey! That was you in the video!" It’s an instant connection, and suddenly you’re a real person, not just a name at the bottom of an email. That’s vital for our us. We’re a month-to-month service and we rely on genuine relationships to keep us in business."
Brenton Williamson, BambooHR (@bleewilliamson)”
## A refreshingly trustworthy approach to law Choosing a lawyer is an extremely personal process, and about as far from a “commodity” as you can get. Lawyer Marketing Services, a firm offering marketing services to lawyers, has done a great job harnessing the power of video to add a much-needed element of humanity and trust to lawyers’ marketing efforts:

Lawyer Marketing Services explains their approach to video marketing.

“We realized that a majority of attorney videos were all the same. An attorney sitting in front of their law books screaming, ’Call our firm now to get the money you deserve!’ In order to remedy this, we actually sit down with our attorneys and get to know their goals, their passions, and who they really are. That’s what we convey on video. Who they really are. That’s what builds an honest and immediate element of trust.”
Dominick Montgomery, Lawyer Marketing Services (@lawyermktusa)”

We’d imagine that working on these videos helps clients get a better handle on their own messaging and goals, too — a side effect of scripting we’ve benefitted from here at Wistia as well!


Don’t have time to read through the examples right now? That’s very internet generation of you. While we totally recommend saving them for later, here’s a quick summary of how you can get started with using video to help people feel more of a personal connection to your business:

  • Keep your script conversational and write it in your own words.
  • Don’t be afraid to show your personality.
  • Focus on content, not on polish; don’t be afraid to show that you’re fallible!
  • View every video you make as an opportunity to be more human.
  • Make video consistently.
  • Add a human bumper to your webinar or screencast.
  • Freely share your knowledge and expertise.

Who are your favorite on-camera characters? How have you incorporated your personality into your video marketing?

Discuss this further in the Community!

Alyce Currier


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