Why is online video so compelling compared to text?
I’ve been in my video studio working on my new online video course (Designing For Engagement). It’s a lot of work to create my online video courses (through Udemy.com), but it’s also fun to work on them, and it’s exciting to have people taking and enjoying the courses.
It got me thinking again, about why online video is so compelling as a medium, and so while I was in the studio I made this short video “4 Reasons Why Online Video Is Persuasive”:
Here are the 4 reasons:
#1: The Fusiform Facial area makes us pay attention to faces
#2: Voice conveys rich information
#3: Emotions are contagious
#4: Movement grabs attention
What do you think? Do you find online video more engaging than reading text? Why do you think it is (or isn’t)?
Let’s say you are browsing for shoes at your favorite online shoe store. You see a pair that looks like what you are looking for, but you aren’t 100% convinced. Then you notice that in addition to the regular reviews written by other shoppers, there is a video you can click on. You click on the video and watch a stream of customers show you the shoe and talk about why they like it. Persuasive? You bet!
Video is one of the most powerful media choices for online persuasion. Here are 5 reasons why:
#1 — Movement in peripheral vision grabs attention — In a previous post I talked about why movement in your peripheral vision is so powerful at grabbing attention. Video online is movement, and so will automatically grab attention more than anything else on the screen.
#2 — Speakers and listener’s brains sync up — In a previous post I talked about the research by Stephens (Stephens, Greg, Silbert, L., & Hasson, U., 2010. Speaker–listener neural coupling underlies successful communication. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, July 27, 2010.) that shows that the brain patterns of listeners synch up with the brain patterns of the speaker they are listening to. This means that a video of someone talking is going to be more powerful than just reading words on a page.
#3 — Video compensates (somewhat) for the asynchronous problem — In a previous post I wrote about the research by Wiltermuth and Heath (Scott S. Wiltermuth and Chip Heath, Synchrony and Cooperation, Psychological Science, Volume 20 Issue 1, Pages 1 – 5) on how synchronous behavior bonds people together. A lot of online communication is asynchronous — the communication is not occurring simultaneously in real time. Emails, Facebook posts, twitter posts, are asynchronous. Chat is synchronous. Synchronous communication is, in general, more persuasive. Video can be synchronous (think Skype) or asynchronous (think TED talk or YouTube). But video does have the advantage of allowing you to hear and see an actual person, rather than the more removed reading of text. In this regard it is the most powerful of the asynchronous media.
#4 — Video can convey emotional info, not just factual — In my book, Neuro Web Design: What makes them click? I talk about how important it is to speak to the emotional mid-brain if you want to get your message across and have your message be remembered. Video has the advantage (over just reading text) of communicating social and emotional information, not just facts.
#5 — Video testimonials combine all the powerful elements together — If you haven’t seen Video Genie in action, I suggest you go to videogenie.com and check out their example videos. This is a new technology that allows customers to easily make a video testimonial and post it to your site (you get to moderate it, i.e. watch it before it gets posted). I’ve talked a lot (in books and other posts) about why testimonials and reviews are so powerful (it’s the principle of social validation). Video testimonials are social validation on steroids. Social validation, brain syncing, emotional content… you just can’t beat this for persuasion.
The technology for video is finally getting easier and easier to create and integrate online. (Another interesting example is Vokle.com — it allows anyone to host their own video talk show, live, with people calling in.)
What do you think? Are you using video at your site?