Thanks to the popularity of videos — short or long — on platforms such as TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram Reels, video marketing is now a key part of many marketers’ content strategy. Video views now drive the bulk of overall internet traffic. But posting a well-made video is only half the solution. If you’re not including captions or subtitles in your videos, you’re not only leaving out a significant portion of your audience, but you’re also forgoing an easy way to get Google to index the entirety of your video. There are a number of reasons why captioning your social media videos is key to the popularity of your video. Let’s dive into the many reasons.
Captioning and subtitling (the words are often used interchangeably) is the process in which you show the text translation of the voiceover or narration, to match with the video. Captions and subtitles can also include descriptions of non-vocal audio and the background or other relevant information.
Captions, subtitles, and transcripts make it easy for Google and other search engines to index your entire video, and not just your title and description. Google can’t (yet!) watch your videos to index them, but search engines including Google can crawl your subtitles. The search engine can then rank your videos based on the keywords they find. While the search engine can index search engine optimization keywords in the title, description and tags too, including captions in your videos will boost your keyword density, thus in turn boosting your rank in the search results.
Think about how much you’re missing out on Google’s search results just by skipping over captions! It’s an easy element to add, with a ton of benefits in search results. The next time you record your video or record a separate audio to include in the video, make sure you use keywords in your narration, and then use them in your captions too.
Adding captions and subtitles to your videos is a one-time effort. But it pays over many times, as we’ll see. Captions in your videos make your videos accessible to the 37.5 million adults with hearing difficulties in the US alone. This is a truly under-served segment both in America and the world over. So, by being inclusive and making your videos accessible to this community, you immediately serve the needs of a significant but often overlooked section of the population.
But even among the hearing, there is a giant need for videos with captions, so that people can watch said videos on mute. Consider, how many times have you reached out to browse on the internet on your laptop or phone when your partner, kids or roommates have fallen asleep? Or you might be in the same room as your parents or family, but definitely don’t want to watch the same shows as them, and quietly tune into your phone for your entertainment? Or you’re at the dentist, waiting for (and dreading) your turn, and really want to pass the time without actively thinking of your appointment but at the same time, without disturbing the people around you. Being able to watch videos you want without having to turn up the sound can be a big relief in situations such as these.
Additionally, a growing number of viewers today live outside the US, many in parts of the world where English can be the second or third language. Captions can immensely help in translating the audio or narration of the video, thereby improving understanding and engagement. These are often viewers familiar with technology and wanting to engage more, but the language can be a barrier. Captions go a long way in helping lower this barrier. You can thus grow your audience exponentially with just one more feature.
Captions and subtitles add to the overall experience of watching a video, since they engage different parts of the brain than from just watching the video. Besides, you might be in a crowded place and miss out a few words in the audio. But the captions immediately bring you up to speed. Case studies by prominent marketing agencies have shown that call-to-action clicks increase when videos have captions. The time users spend watching a video also dramatically increases when you include subtitles. On many platforms including TikTok and Instagram Reels, watch time is a key metric to gauge performance. Thus, the longer the watch time, the better the ranking of the video. Captions and subtitles thus ensure not only a better user experience, but also better engagement and conversion.
There is a ton of research that shows that adding text to videos boosts comprehension and thus leads to better retention of the content. Reading the text fires up a different part of your brain, in addition to the parts of the brain that fire up when you watch the video. The actual topics of the videos might be different for different channels and video-makers. But the combination of text and video together still creates a longer lasting memory of the video. So, if you want your audience to find your videos more memorable and you want to make your content stick, add captions!
Captioning can be done either via automation or manually. You can use professional tools to add captions and text overlays. Make sure you sync your captions and subtitles with every relevant portion of the video. Format your captions properly so they are easily readable. Pick contrasting colors for the text to let it stand out against the backdrop of the video. You can also look into translating your captions for different territories for a greater reach.
Creating social media video captions, subtitles, and transcripts can thus boost your videos to a much greater extent. Captions can save your videos from being scrolled over, and help you hook your viewers’ attention. In addition, it is a one-time effort that only keeps giving back. So, take the time to add this critical element to your social media video strategy and watch your audience engagement and viewership grow!