Can a Video Trigger Behavioral Change?

Changing behavior is never easy. Ask any dieter, smoker or chronic email checker – habits are hard to break. Our brains are designed to recognize patterns and repetition, and they actually reward us with feelings of comfort and security when we fall into familiar patterns. Conversely, when we try something new, our brains often create feelings of anxiety, stress or frustration. To make things even more challenging, our behaviors are often the culmination of a number of habits and patterns, many of them years in the making.

So can we really expect to inspire behavioural change through something as simple and impersonal as a video?

Create Self-Discovery

A key technique in using video to drive behavioral change is to create a moment of self-discovery, or insight, within the viewer. The viewer should see something in the video that resonates with them on an emotional level, something they identify with personally. This could be seeing themselves in a character in the video, or identifying with a situation.

Provide a Lesson

Once the viewer identifies with the story, the video must provide examples of how changes in behavior have impacted the character or the situation, ideally including examples of effective and ineffective behaviour and the consequences of that behaviour. This lesson should inspire an initial desire in the viewer to think and act differently themselves.

But having that initial desire isn’t enough. Having the understanding that a behavioural change is necessary is very different from making the change itself; we’re seeking action here. To create action, we need to develop triggers that remind the viewer of their initial moment of self-discovery, and create an opportunity for reflection upon their own behaviour once again.

Depending on the viewer, this process make take time and may need to be repeated before it leads to action or any long-lasting behavioural change. It isn’t typically achieved by watching one video, which is why traditional training videos aren’t as effective as they could be.

So, what’s the solution? How do we create these triggers and opportunities for self-reflection through video?

Trigger and Repeat

This is where technology comes in. Nearly all of us are walking around with portable video players in our pockets, capable of connecting us to information, and notifying us when more information is available. This nearly ubiquitous technology is, many experts believe, inherently addictive itself, as people can’t resist that familiar vibration when new information is available. Mobile devices are an ideal delivery mechanism for videos that serve as triggers and inspire behavioral change. They present us with an incredible opportunity.

Through videos on mobile devices, we can leverage the power of storytelling and emotion to develop understanding and self-discovery. We can connect with the viewer through a social network, an app, or an email subscription, and deliver follow up videos that serve as triggers, reminding them of the insights they learned and the benefits of behavioural change.

These trigger videos should be short and relevant, convenient for the viewer to access and digest. We can develop any number of these triggers, and make them valuable, rewarding, and entertaining for the viewer. We can make these triggers available on-demand, or even schedule them to be available at specific times or situations. We can even use geo-location to make them available at specific places.

And, if we’re successful, these trigger videos will lead to behavioural change.

So whether the goal is changing attitudes, propagating a public health message, changing habits, or training your staff, the use of videos on mobile devices is an opportunity worth exploring.