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You’ve Got To See It To Believe It: Why Visual Is The First Principle of Video Social Proof

We as humans are visual beings. Think about the earliest form of communication and storytelling humans chose: cave painting, a visual expression of the information they wished to convey and a method utilized for thousands of years. Fast forward, and humans have not lost the desire to visually share stories, impart knowledge, and connect with others through the use of imagery.

It is this strong preference for visuals that marketers have adopted as their way of achieving these same goals with their consumers. When it comes to marketing, this means that content created with visuals is naturally more engaging and interesting for users (all the better for brands). For example:

It is clear to us that people can better identify, relate with, understand and build trust with others and with products and services through visual media.

Our team at VideoPeel has been studying the impact of visual media in online consumer behavior and how brands can connect with their consumers (and connect consumers to each other) and better develop consumer loyalty and retention. And we know that in order to do this, brands must remember that the best customer experience takes into consideration the human experience. Because this brings us back to the core of how humans communicate with each other, we named visual as the first guiding principle in Video Social Proof.

We have defined Video Social Proof as the discipline of capturing and sharing actual customer experiences through video. And brands need to be paying attention. Today’s consumers are more skeptical and discerning than ever, actively seeking authenticity and truth in their interactions with brands they care about (and patronize) most. In order to assist brands in the implementation of their Video Social Proof strategy, we’ve created a simple framework based on six principles: Visual, Personal, Contextual, Timely, Communal, and Experiential.

To best understand the effectiveness of this framework, we will dig deeper into the first principle, upon which all the others are founded: visual.

Defining Visual Media

When we talk about visual as a principle of Video Social Proof, we’re talking about visual media beyond simple 2D images, but rather as content that captures and shows actual experiences. It must trigger motion perception, which involves several of our senses, not just sight.

When we are exposed to visual media, multiple signals are being analyzed by our brains to take in information and to process it. These signals include the visual, the vestibular (inner ear), and the proprioceptive systems (muscles and joints). Studies show that one signal alone is not reliable; it can be ambiguous or even conflict with other signals. Our brain needs to determine which signals to believe. Which often requires us to use prior experiences, such as recognizing individuals or actions (Visual-vestibular interactions, Aasef G. Shaikh, ...Amir Kheradmand, in Multisensory Perception, 2020).

Therefore, what we see, hear, and feel from visual media is very important to our brain’s ability to identify, relate, understand, and build trust.

When applying this to marketing your products and services, it quickly becomes clear that simply providing a photo and/or a written description to your buyers is woefully insufficient to develop a meaningful customer (human) experience. You are expecting your customer to believe in your product or service without those important information-gathering signals. They can’t see how it works, when it works, where it works, and how it impacts someone like themselves or the influencers they follow.

Interactive, engaging visual media is necessary in order to make your brand memorable and create an impactful path to purchase that grows brand equity and loyalty.

Visual Media Shows Who You Truly Are

With the vast number of marketing and sales channels that make up the modern buyer’s journey, marketers today face a daunting challenge:

How can a brand share its message on diverse platforms and speak to different audiences through unique content, while also consistently conveying the brand’s identity?

Many companies fail by allocating all content resources to generating content for only one particular buyer stage or channel (leaving consumers at other stages or on other channels to fend for themselves) or by creating content that is tailored to different audiences, but that doesn’t maintain cohesive brand recognition.

Video is a powerful way to establish a brand’s visual and tonal identity, including the customer voices that make up that brand’s community. If you are able to create on-brand video content at scale, you are then able to place these high-converting, authentic touch points with your audience across the entire buyer’s journey and use that transparency to foster deeper connections both existing and new audiences.

10X Understanding with a Trusting Mindset

Regardless of your industry and the message you are trying to communicate in the marketplace, you need to be using visual media to clarify concepts, enrich meaning, and spark inspiration amongst your audience. By utilizing the capability of Video Social Proof to establish trust and credibility, you can 10X the level of understanding and confidence your customers have with your product or service. Instead of "taking your word for it" or feeling sold to, customers can look to the real experiences of their peers.

Empower those customers most similar or most respected by your target audience to answer the key questions that will set you apart in a crowded marketplace: Will it work for me? When should I use it, and when does it not work? How long does it take to get results? In what situations will it work best? What type of results will someone like me get now, versus later? Was it worth it?

All of these critical consideration stage questions can best be answered through the visual nature of Video Social Proof. And the more your customers can see it, the more they will believe it.

Ready to develop a Video Social Proof strategy to grow your business? We’d love to talk you through next steps and how we might be able to help.

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