“When you say it, it’s marketing. When your customer says it, it’s social proof.“

This is the best definition of social proof I’ve yet to see, the keywords being “says it”.

But how are our customers “saying it?”. Written language is quite different from spoken language, not to mention missing 80-90% of the visual and audio cues we humans use in our complex communication.

Likes, shares, followers - these are all fantastic methods of displaying social proof, however, when it comes to other mechanisms such as testimonials, reviews, education - video can usually be a much more powerful tool.

We’ll start with a brief recap of social proof & then where video fits in. Next week we'll look at how CeBIT leveraged video social proof to maximise footfall at this years show.

Social proof - the power of the herd

The four divisions of decision making - adapted from herd

Only half (at most) of your customers decisions are made independently of social influence. The other half of their decision making process is influenced by the decisions of their peers & experts.

Mark Earles refers to this phenomenon as “herd” thinking; that we rely on information by others we trust to better inform our decisions. This is the social proof we have now all read and heard about.

Essentially, we each lack vast knowledge and experience that would be required to evaluate every single decision based solely upon its merit. To combat this, we are hardwired to shortcut a lack of information by following the actions of others we perceive to be of a similar status - leading us to trust the sentiment of the masses.

Peer proof is defined by scale. If 500 people that I relate to, enjoy a product, I’m more likely to be persuaded to purchase this than the competitive brand which only has 50 people I relate to following it. Here we find Facebook followers, content shares & views, reviews, testimonials and consumer campaigns.

Expert social proof relies upon how well respected that experts decisions & points of view are. Here we find blogs (like this one), twitter followers, Ted Talks, lectures and expert reviews & testimonials.

Understanding social proof is essential to growing your online conversion, as it is pretty much the largest driver of mass consumer behavior. If you want to take your understanding of social proof further, there is a great article here from Kissmetrics, and a wealth of great blogs on this online.

Why video is so powerful for social proof

For so many elements of your online presence, video has been proven to gain far greater engagement and conversions when use in place of text. This success arises from the above four elements.

1. Trust & Transparency.

The most significant gain from video generated by peers & experts, is that of trust in your brand. Millennials are the social generation, as Nebo puts it:

“they trust the opinions of their family and friends, and even anonymous strangers on the Internet, far more than they trust what companies say about themselves. They trust people far more than any brand message”
Simple, unedited video, is incredibly authentic and hard to fake, much more so than writing, and they know this. In addition, by exposing your customers, yourself, your team on video, you break down the “invisible wall” that exists before many brands.

2. Visual communication

Long before humans developed language skills, we communicated without words, young children still do, and research shows we still trust what we sense and see more than the actual words we hear.

Its not what you say, but how you say it

Video captures and portrays the 90% of communication missed in text: expression, gestures, posture, eye contact, inflection, tone of voice, volume, pauses, stumbles, passion & more. This, added to the more casual tone of spoken language, further builds trust, sincerity, and ultimately conversions.

3. Personal Connection & Authenticity

Research into implict egotism shows that when valuing opinions of others, our brains place most weight on those people we deem highly similar to us. Video can show us other customers more similar to us, in a way that text would leave us guessing.

4. Higher engagement

Video gets on average twice as many comments & shares than other content on social media. Video is passive, entertaining and a fast way to convey important information, and more engagement means more time spent on your site.

In addition, as video is still a relatively new media source when it comes to in house content - video generated by your team and customers still has the “wow” factor. Verbate makes this simple to do, use it to stand out.

5. Specific value focused content.

Ok not on the diagram, but I wanted to point out that just “video” is not enough. It needs to be relevant and focused. By asking specific questions when requesting vide - you curate your responses to align to key brand values, outcomes and content strategies.

Your turn

Its time to start getting back to that human element. Word of mouth is still the most effective way to grow business, its just a matter of scaling.