Six reasons why should you add captions to your videos

Whether you are producing videos for training, explainers, marketing or outreach, adding text to your moving pictures can help spread your message in surprising ways. Here are six great reasons to include captions or subtitles in your next video project.

1. Better Engagement

Many social media feeds begin playing videos without sound the moment they appear onscreen, and often viewers are content to let them run that way. Just how common is this? A 2016 study found that Facebook users watched 85% of video without sound. Tap in to this phenomenon with captions that communicate what the video is about before users decide to keep scrolling.

2. Accessibility

Hearing loss is extremely common and may well affect some in your target audience. In fact, certain fields like education and the public sector may legally require that you make your products and services accessible to users with disabilities — including the hearing disabled. Adding captions to your videos can help reach a wider range of users, send a message of inclusion about your business or organization, and keep your work within the law.

3. Search Engine Optimization

That’s right, SEO. Google and other search engines read the metadata (title, description, keywords, etc.) included with videos uploaded to YouTube and other sites in order to include them in search results. But often the most important content is the dialogue contained in the video itself. Uploading a caption file along with each video supplies an accurate transcript that search engines can index properly.

4. Explaining complex vocabulary

Some words are simply difficult to understand. That goes equally for complicated scientific terms, unusual or regional expressions or the names of faraway places. So, if you’re a sesquipedalian who employs circumlocution with your friend in Skellefteå, you might want to spell out those words for clarity.

5. Crossing cultures

Sometimes narrators, characters or voiceover actors with thick regional accents may be difficult for non-native speakers to understand. Adding captions or subtitles makes dialogue more comprehensible, whether you’re trying to reach an audience in another country or immigrants in your own community.

6. Rising above the noise

Consider where your audience will watch your video: In quiet open offices or cubicles with little privacy? Sitting in a noisy cafe with tiny earbuds, or watching a television above the bar? What about in a trade show hall with a cavernous ceiling? In all of these situations, captions can transmit the video’s message with no volume at all.

No matter how you intend for your audience to view your work — e-learning platforms, social media feeds or even 4K displays in trade show booths — there are plenty of great reasons to add captions or subtitles to your videos. Far from being an extra production hassle, consider the onscreen text as a new opportunity to engage users.

How do you add captions or subtitles to your movie?

Any standard video editing program will let you create visible, permanent subtitles to burn in to your movie. But if you want to add SEO benefits, you will want to create your own “Subrip Subtitle” (.SRT) format caption file that contains the movie’s dialogue plus time stamps that indicate the start and stop times for each caption. Because it’s a text file, you can edit it yourself with any basic text editor or word processor. Simply upload it to YouTube, Vimeo or your video-sharing site of choice.

If you don’t already have an SRT file for your movie, then YouTube will use its own speech-recognition system to generate one for you. (Tip: This also doubles as a great way to create transcripts of recorded presentations or conversations, without having to take the time to transcribe the dialogue.) You can then download the SRT file from YouTube, edit the text to correct any misspellings or inaccuracies in the automated transcription, and then upload the replacement SRT file.

Plotagon has tackled this problem head-on by building multiple subtitle features directly into the application. When you create an animated training or marketing movie using Plotagon Studio’s 3D animation, you can export your video as an MP4 file with subtitles burned in, or with captions in an external SRT file automatically. That means you can make your videos accessible and benefit from enhanced SEO at the same time, all with no extra effort. See how easy it is with this tutorial.