Do you want to know a secret? I make a lot of videos but I have an awful habit of scrolling past them on my Facebook newsfeed.
Sometimes I’ll stop to watch more and it’s usually for one of two reasons:
1. Something interesting happened in the shot
2. Something in the captions caught my attention
And you know what? I’ll happily sit there and watch the entire video with the sound off, reading the captions.
Sometimes it’s because I’m in a public area and at others, it’s because I don’t need to hear, I can see and understand without the sound.I'll happily sit there and watch the entire video with the sound off, reading the captions.Click To Tweet
A report from Digiday shows that I’m not alone, a whacking great 85% of videos on Facebook are watched with the sound off. On YouTube it’s different, people watch and listen but even on YouTube captions give you an edge. When YouTube is indexing video content it can read your sub-title file to have a better idea of what the video is about.
If we are going to get more people watching our videos for longer we’re going to have to add captions.
But isn’t that hard? It doesn’t have to be…
How do I subtitle a video?
Adding captions to video fits into two main categories.
There are YouTube and Facebook who let you upload a caption file or generate them for you.
Then you’ve got Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter where you have to burn captions into the video itself (hard coding).
Let’s start with the easy ones. YouTube and Facebook
Both Facebook and YouTube have an auto-caption feature. The YouTube one is better at interpreting our words and once it’s generated and you’ve edited the file you can download it.
So upload your video to YouTube you can use the subtitle file on both YouTube and Facebook.
How to create an SRT caption file on YouTube to use on Facebook
Upload your video to YouTube, wait for the auto-caption file to appear in the ‘Captioning’ menu
Click edit to amend any mistakes and download
Why can’t I upload my SRT file to Facebook?
The first time I tried to upload my SRT to Facebook it failed. It turned out I’d just named the file incorrectly.
Here’s how to name your files so that Facebook will accept them.
For example, if you are downloading a file called caption-my-video you’ll need to add the language and country code.
For English UK this is .en_GB for US English it’s .en_US.
So your filename will become caption-my-video.en_GB.srt
You’ll get a full list of language and country codes on Facebook.
If you don’t use this convention Facebook will reject your file.
Now upload your SRT file to Facebook. When you upload a video to your Facebook page click the captions tab and upload the file.
That’s the easy bit done, now let’s look the more challenging networks.
Caption videos for Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter
Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter don’t currently support uploaded caption files, they don’t have auto-captioning, they’re simply not subtitle friendly.
For these networks we have to add the captions in at video creation stage.
Apple Clips (iOS only)
This is a handy tool that adds captions to video as you shoot it. Choose a caption style, start to speak and when it’s finished you can edit any mistakes before uploading it to social media.
To edit captions click on the video you created and click the text icon (it’s a series of lines) at the bottom of the screen. Now you can go in and edit the captions.
It’s probably the quickest and easiest way to hard caption videos as you record them. On the downside you can only caption videos you shoot straight into the app, you can’t add titles to pre-recorded video.
Camtasia is an editing tool for Mac and PC and it’s the tool I use to edit video. It’s pricey but if you are serious about editing video on your computer it’s worth it.
Camtasia makes use of that SRT file you downloaded later, add it to the caption track and you have a fully captioned video. More on that here.
So what are you waiting for?
Add captions to videos and you will get more people to watch. You’ll grab their attention and stop the scroll. Go make some