Video is quickly overtaking all other forms of content as the top dog when it comes to attracting and engaging viewers. Over half a billion people are watching video on Facebook everyday and one third of all online activity is spent watching video. It’s no longer a question of just how powerful video actually is, but what you as a marketer can do to make your video content more effective in reaching the right people.
One incredibly easy way you can boost your video’s power? Add captions!
It feels almost too intuitive to mention, but a surprising number of our partners don’t even give subtitles a second thought when they’re creating their video content. And it’s a shame, because captions really are a super low-effort way to make your videos go further.
Let’s take a look at just how important captions are in the performance of your video overall and how you can use them to go that extra step.
What are video captions?
Video captions or subtitles are the written text that’s overlaid on a video representing the spoken part of that video. They can help clarify what’s being said and are either open, meaning they’re always in view and cannot be turned off by the viewer, or closed, meaning they can be turned on or off.
Video captions are similar to a transcription, but are synced to a video’s time codes, allowing the viewer to follow along with a video’s words as they’re being said. They’re also shown within the video player in a seamless and unobtrusive way.
3 Benefits of Including Captions in Your Videos
Of course, subtitles make videos easier to understand, but the benefits of adding captions go so far beyond that! From boosting engagement metrics to optimizing SEO and making videos easier to comprehend for those with disabilities, video captions have tremendous power in boosting your brand’s worth.
First and foremost, adding captions to your videos helps boost engagement metrics across the board. Here are a couple of unexpected stats:
- Facebook says adding captions to your video can boost view time by 12 percent.
- Discovery Digital Networks ran an experiment and found that captioned videos had over 7 percent more views on average.
- A recent study saw a 40 percent increase in views of captioned videos versus uncaptioned.
- That same study found viewers were 80 percent more likely to watch a video until the end when closed captions were available.
- On Facebook, 85 percent of videos are watched on mute.
If you can find numbers showing that users don’t engage more with videos that include captions, please send them to us! We’re hard-pressed to find any. That’s because captions are inherently more captivating.
Your videos should be bold and bright (especially on social media,) but given how fast people scroll, sometimes bright visuals don’t do enough to stand out in a feed full of similar video content. But if your video includes words that resonate with the viewer, and those words are big enough to be seen and recognized immediately, your video stands a much better chance at having an impact.
Another major benefit of including captions on your video content? Accessibility!
Over 28 million American adults are deaf or hard of hearing and captions help those who can’t hear what’s going on in a video understand what’s happening. Without them, this part of the population would miss out on your content, an unfair consequence outside of their control.
Beyond that, if your video is in English, you’re missing out on an entire audience of non-English speaking viewers. Adding captions in the language your target audience speaks helps immensely in making your video accessible to every part of the world.
Finally, captions can do a lot in building your search engine optimization efforts.
When you transcribe your video and include that transcription on your website or in your video description, search engines can crawl that and rank your video higher, since you’re providing text like any other.
But now, closed captions offer a readable text file search engine spiders can crawl, helping align your video with your keyword strategy. In general, closed captioned videos rank higher in search results, but now that search engines can essentially read captions, their SEO power is exponentially higher.
Besides adding captions to your videos, boost your SEO power by embedding relevant videos on your main website pages, blog pages, landing pages, and more.
When should you use video captions?
There’s rarely a time when you shouldn’t use video captions – maybe if you’re using music with lyrics that aren’t pertinent to your video or if your video is intentionally playing with sound and silence. But most videos are enhanced by the inclusion of captions.
While you can decide whether something like a brand video or how-to video will include captions, other types of videos, like social videos, definitely need them if you want to capture attention on the right channels. Think about your distribution methods and your audience’s state of mind wherever you plan on posting your content. Then you can decide whether or not captions will help or hurt your video’s performance.
Auto-generate or make your own?
Captions can come in a variety of options. Often, they’re auto-generated by players like YouTube and Vimeo; these come pretty standard, usually in simple white lettering with a black background. Some players allow you to customize how captions appear, helping with accessibility.
But often times, these captions are unreliable. YouTube has said they use machine learning algorithms to create these captions automatically and admit they’re not always the most accurate.
That’s why we opt to caption video ourselves, formatting the subtitles for readability and accuracy.
So, should you rely on auto-captioning or generate your own captions? It all depends. Generating your own in-video captions is always the best way to go, but obviously isn’t necessary if your video only uses music or doesn’t rely heavily on voice-over or speech. But generating your own captions also requires time and editing resources, which you might not have.
If you don’t, opt for auto-generated captions. See how your video player does at generating these, and if they’re not accurate, most video hosts allow you to go into your settings and manually edit them. It’s more work, but results in better final video.
Whether someone is watching a video on mute or just scrolling quickly down their feeds, captions can do a lot to not only stop a viewer in their tracks, but make your brand resonate more strongly.
And luckily, adding them to your video is a relatively simple task that brings a lot in return. Whether you’re manually adding them on a video host like YouTube, or you’re adding them in the editing room, they can make all the difference in making your video more comprehensible and even help you be legally compliant in some cases.
Paired with beautiful graphics, special effects, and a great narrative, captions are the final step in creating video content you – and your audience – will love.
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