Sharing videos on social media can drive better engagement and brand awareness. It adds a personal touch but, while people may want to see what you have to say they more than likely don’t want to hear it. Studies show that 85% of videos on social media are played without sound.
Adding captions to your social media videos is therefore essential if you want to cater to those who can't or don't want to turn the volume on. Whether that's because they're watching on a busy train or from a shared office space, or they don't understand you, adding captions drives better results:
- LinkedIn’s data shows that videos designed for silent viewing are 70% more likely to be watched until the end.
- An Instapage study found that Facebook videos with captions had a 16% higher reach and 17% more reactions. Average shares dropped when there were no captions.
- Captions improve SEO for Google and YouTube
It’s not as difficult or time-consuming to add captions. Below you’ll find a mixture of free and low-cost ways to help your videos gain better traction and be understood.
First Things First: Closed Or Open?
Captions can be either open or closed. Closed captions allow the user to turn the captions on or off, while open captions are burned into the video itself and so they will always display.
Closed captions (often displayed as CC) generally offer a better experience because the user gets to choose. They also act like meta descriptions, telling search engines like Google and YouTube what your video contains.
Open captions give you more flexibility in how your captions display and they may offer benefits if you know that there are language barriers. However, they’re generally the less popular choice for marketing purposes.
The most popular format for closed captions is SubRip Subtitle (SRT), which is supported by:
However, you’ll see that Twitter and Instagram are sorely missing from these! They only accept open captions.
If you do choose SRT closed captions, you can easily add them to your videos when you upload them.
3 Tools That Make It Easy To Add Video Captions
YouTube caption creator
When you upload a video to YouTube, it will automatically add captions with timestamps. As you may already have experienced, captions are not always accurate but luckily you can change this relatively quickly.
- On the setting page of your video, click on Subtitles/CC.
- On the right-hand side of your video, it should show “English (Automatic).
- Click on this and then press edit.
- You can then amend the captions on the left-hand side if they aren’t accurate.
- Once you click Publish, you'll then have two options: English (Automatic) and English. Simply select the Automatic caption and press unpublish and you have an accurate caption!
Word of warning: Consider how long it will take you to edit the caption. If it's reasonably accurate and it needs just a few tweaks, this can be a good option. However, if it's a longer video, then using a transcription service may be a better ROI (see the next section).
Top tip: You can download the STR caption generated by YouTube to upload to other channels.
Professional Caption Services
Translation services can be surprisingly more affordable than you would think, especially for smaller clips of translation. Rev.com is a popular translation service that starts at just $1.25 per minute for captions and promises to provide captions back in 24 hours or less (although it’s often much quicker)..
According to HubSpot, the recommended length for videos is:
- Instagram: 30 seconds
- Twitter: 45 seconds
- Facebook: 1 minute
- YouTube: 2 minutes
- LinkedIn (3 seconds to 3 minutes) - see another of their posts here.
The absolute maximum you’d therefore expect to pay for caption transcriptions is therefore $3.75 (approx £2.80). In reality, most posts would cost a third of the cost.
Free Live Caption Apps
Sometimes you may not have the time or budget for the previous two methods or closed captions may be compatible with the platform, e.g. Twitter and Instagram.
In this instance, you can use captioning software that automatically adds captions as you talk.
Some of the most popular apps are:
- Clips (iPhone)
- Cliptomatic (iPhone)
- AutoCap (Android)
All of these apps automatically add captions, which you can edit if you wish. AutoCap offers another helpful feature for your audience - it will emphasise a word in yellow for each group of captions (again, editable).
The iPhone apps, Clips and Cliptomatic, both offer filters, effects and caption style options which can help you make your videos stand out more.
Obviously, which app you can select depends on your phone software! For live posts you don't have a choice, but for scheduled posts you can always use alternative Android video editing apps (this site has a good list of Clips alternatives) and then add the captions later.
What captions method you use will depend in part on the network, your budget and time constraints - and even which mobile platform you use. Whatever you choose though, adding captions to videos has never been easier.