There’s a lot to think about when making a video for social media: what are you trying to say? What’s the most concise visual way of connecting with your audience? What music would suit the project?
But it's easy to forget that one of the most important things that a social video needs is one of the least flashy: subtitles. Here’s why you shouldn't overlook them before hitting 'post'.
They help to maintain your viewer's attention
As marketer Rumble Romagnoli writes in The Drum, the key aim for most social media content is simple. Make something that “will make people stop scrolling and pay attention.”
Once you’ve gotten their attention, subtitles can be a vital tool in maintaining it and ensuring that your message gets across. It varies across platforms but, as Storykit mention in their article about sound in social video:
“People scrolling through their [Instagram] feed usually have the sound off … 85% of [Facebook] users watch [videos] on mute … [on LinkedIn,] 29% of mobile video views say… they watch with a mix of sound on and off, [and] many can be persuaded to turn the volume up if you capture their attention with the right text and visuals first.”
Mobile video on social media is growing and growing with the continued popularity of platforms like TikTok. It makes sense then, that captions and subtitles have continued to play a major role in conveying information.
They make your social media videos accessible to a wider audience
One of the most important reasons for subtitles in online video is how they make videos more accessible and inclusive to a wider audience. Not only do they make your content accessible to those with hearing impairments; they also simply make your video easier to understand while the viewer is on a busy commute.
For businesses with a larger online presence, subtitles are a small but essential tool that brands can use to meet the expectations of their global audience. For The Content Marketing Institute, Lisa Dougherty writes:
"Marketers will need to sharpen their focus on the accessibility and inclusivity of their content experience. It’s essential that all who engage with your brand, including people with disabilities, BIPOC audiences, and non-native English-speakers, feel equally seen, welcomed, and supported by your business. If you aren’t making universally accessible and resonant content, you put your customer relationships and brand reputation at risk."
You can get creative with them
Subtitles don’t have to be just a functional component. How can you use text in a creative way to highlight important information? How can it reinforce your brand identity? Take a look at the short-form videos we produce for our sister brand, The Evidence-Based Investor. We incorporate the brand's colour scheme into the subtitles, using their shade of green to emphasise key words.
Animating text can also be a great creative method for making information that little bit more eye-catching and engaging. Carrie Cousins wrote a guide to this technique of "kinetic typography" for DesignStack. She notes how it can help the emotional core of your message to land with your audience.
"The way type moves contributes to [emotional storytelling] as well, according to research. For example: loudness can be mimicked by changing the size of text, as well as its weight, and occasionally contrast or colour. For high volumes, motions mimicking vibration can be used. In the creation of characters, type can be set to move in a way that mimics human motion…"
We put the technique to great use in this video we worked on promoting Birmingham City University's Black Studies course. This approach really complemented the rhythmic editing style and energetic pace that BCU were looking for.
Finally – for something that can be so pivotal to the success of your video, it’s so simple to add subtitling to the video production process. Using Adobe Premiere or bespoke transcription tools like Descript, it has never been easier to create and edit subtitle tracks for video.
Interested in learning more about our production process? Or perhaps you have a project you’d like to work on with us – please feel free to contact us here.