The expression, "A picture is worth a thousand words" has origins that are over a hundred years old, but the idea remains true even today. It's often much easier for people to believe and understand things they've seen, than it is for things they've only read about. This is even more true in the digital age, where the credibility of any piece of information is suspect.

While the maxim about the value of pictures was inspired by the early days of photojournalism, it applies equally to online marketing. Ads for products with images have higher click through rates than ads without imagery. A recent study from BrightCove suggests that social media marketers need to update the saying, since videos are performing better and better on social media, and play a large role in what consumers do.

Video can be a very powerful tool for helping brands build awareness on social media. If a picture is worth a thousands words, then a five-minute video at 60 frames per second is worth 18 million words. You can't literally say that many words in that amount of time, but the effect on consumers is real.

BrightCove released a report title The Science of Social Video: Turning Views into Value based on surveys from more than 5,000 consumers and found that videos on social media have positive effects on the opinions of consumers. Whether it's their perception of the business, their view of the products or what they finally decide to buy, the videos they see on social media make them more likely to act in positive ways.

According to the study's data, 74 percent of consumers say there is a connection between watching a video on social media and their buying decisions. This alone shows that posting videos to social media isn't a waste of time. For three out of four consumers, the videos they see will influence the attitudes and purchasing decisions.

Of course, saying there's a "connection" don't necessarily mean that it means people buy the items they see in online videos. However, the data also shows that nearly half (46 percent) of consumers said they have actually made a purchase after watching a branded video on social media, and a nearly a third (32 percent) have considered doing so.

The benefits of posting videos on social media also extends to brand awareness and reputation management. In the BrightCove survey, 79 percent of the participants agreed that online videos on social media are the easiest way to get to know a brand online. This makes sense, because unlike a single image or a written description, a video seems more sincere.

"Our results show that consumers are willing to watch and act on branded video content on social networks-- so brands must ensure their videos stand out from the crowd," the company wrote in a release announcing the report. "They can deliver what consumers want through careful targeting, a tailored approach to each social network, and by paying attention to their audience's ongoing preferences so they can monitor and adapt the video content they serve."

For obvious reasons, it's often harder and more expensive to produce branded video content than it is to get an image. While larger companies should probably pay for professional videographers, small businesses can get by with self-shot and edited videos. Whatever it takes, the research suggests that the impact these videos have on consumers make them worth the effort.

For some more ideas about how to improve your online marketing tactics, read this article on recent research about what works on Amazon and other e-commerce platforms.