Authenticity is frequently cited as an important part of successful video marketing campaigns. But, experts rarely share practical advice on what exactly constitutes an ‘authentic’ video, or how to make authentic videos.

Often, this industry buzzword means videos that feature real people rather than actors. Customer testimonials are not only more believable, they’re usually more compelling.

In this post, we’re going to look at the most authentic type of video marketing campaigns – those featuring real customers. We look at how to recruit the right ‘real’ people, and how to get the best out of them.

Does authenticity mean working with real people?

Not necessarily. You certainly can work with your customers if you prefer. But, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that’s the only way to make truly authentic video.

Regardless of whether you’re working with customers or not, the story is the most important aspect of your video. Your video has to tell a story that resonates with your audience.

Understand your audience

We can’t overemphasize the importance of understanding your target audience. To make sure that you have up-to-date, accurate data, put together a focus group to get to grips with:

  • Their interests
  • The goals your product or service helps them achieve
  • The features they like about your product
  • Features they would find useful
  • Where, when and how they use your product or service
  • How they could use your product better

If you don’t have time to recruit a focus group, engage with your customers on social media. This is a convenient, easy way to make contact with them.

Furthermore, customers like to be consulted. It makes them feel valued, and shows that you are truly committed to offering a service that’s just for them.

recruit ambassadors video

How to recruit real people for your video campaign

For most video marketers, time is in short supply. To quickly recruit real people for your video, send out a casting call on social media. Be sure to share all the details to ensure that only people who can commit reply to it. If responses are slow, offer a small incentive such as money off their next purchase or a voucher for a company whose service complements your own.

When you meet your volunteers, remember that most of them will be nervous. They’re not actors – they’re probably out of their comfort zone right now!

Before they get in front of the camera, spend some time getting to know them and also ensuring they understand the time commitment that they’ll have to make. We’ve put together lots of suggestions on finding and working effectively with customers in How to Get Great Customer Testimonials on Camera.

How to work with your ambassadors

At some point during the production process, most of us have been in the uncomfortable position where a video just doesn’t feel right. If the video doesn’t feel genuine to you, then it definitely won’t to your audience.

A good way to avoid this is to work with your ambassadors early on during the campaign. Rather than being the last piece of the jigsaw puzzle, they should be one of the first. That way, the approach can be revised before too much time has been invested.

Stay flexible

You might have planned to ask your ambassadors to use their own experiences to form the basis of your video. Or, you could have planned for them to work from a script that’s based on findings from your focus group research. Either way, try to be flexible – don’t be afraid to change it up.

Your script might be amazing, but your recruit’s story could be even more compelling. If you’re undecided about which approach works best, try both!

Ask your subject to follow your original script, and then shoot a second video where they’re sharing their own experiences. The video could even wind up being a mixture of your focus group findings, guided by your customer’s own story.

Whatever approach you choose, remember that your audience is smart. The story has to be something they believe in.

Keep it interesting

No matter how compelling a testimonial is, it can get boring. Detail is important, but too much can be overwhelming, not to mention dull.

Using multiple camera angles, product shots, and plenty of b-roll helps add interest. Take a look at our blog Camera Wizardry: Getting the Best Angle for the lowdown on using your camera effectively.

Don’t forget to have fun!

Days on set can be grueling. Don’t expect your recruits to behave like actors who can do several takes in a row. They’ll need plenty of breaks and encouragement to get through the day.

Keep the mood light so they can relax and behave naturally in front of the camera. Even if there are time restrictions, they shouldn’t feel pressure. If they repeatedly stumble at a certain point, ask them how they’d rather share that piece of information.


Whether you’re working with ‘real people’ or actors, your audience must want to watch the story unfold. Viewers care about how people use a product and the ways it has helped them solve a problem. The key to authenticity is to adopt a flexible, sensitive approach to working with your ambassadors. Get this right, and your video will start a conversation that leads to a sale.

If you have any tips on making authentic video, leave a comment below or find us on Twitter!