7 Reasons to Add Subtitles to Your Digital Video
So-- you shot all the footage, edited it painstakingly, and are finally ready to release the video content you’ve worked so hard on.
You share it all over social media, boosting it and promoting it everywhere you can think of-- but your engagement still falls short of where you wanted it. What’s the problem?
There’s a crucial element you may have overlooked: subtitles.
Regardless of the content you’re releasing, whether it’s a movie, TV show, social media video, or any other kind of media, captioning your videos can have a big impact on how successful they are.
But why, exactly, are they so important? We put together a list of 7 reasons to subtitle your digital video content.
Most People Can’t or Don’t Turn On Audio
A full 85% of Facebook videos are watched without sound.
Users browsing at work, or anywhere in public if they don’t have headphones, are unlikely to enable the sound for a piece of content they didn’t explicitly navigate to. Even with headphones, most people scrolling through their feed won’t commit to listening to audio.
There’s a greater use of audio on Snapchat (⅔ of videos are watched with sound) but that’s not surprising when you consider Snapchat’s particular use of video for personal communication.
Not Everyone Can Hear Your Audio
Over 28 million american adults are deaf or hard of hearing, making for a huge audience that can’t absorb your video’s content without subtitles.
Not Everyone Speaks Your Language
The language breakdown for the larger internet puts English at 25.5%, Chinese at 19.9%, Spanish at 8.1%, Arabic at 4.9%, with the remaining 41.6% populated by all the other languages.
If you want your content viewed internationally, you want to make sure as many users as possible can understand you. If you can, offer subtitles in multiple languages.
Subtitles Improve Comprehension
A lot of people choose to use subtitles when consuming movies and TV, even if their hearing is fine-- it just helps them understand more easily.
And if you take the time to create them for your video, people will appreciate the effort.
Viewers Are More Engaged
The numbers on engagement with and without subtitles are pretty significant.
PLYMedia found that 66% of videos without subtitles were watched, on average, 66% to completion. This is in comparison videos with subtitles, which were watched 91% to completion. It takes longer to contextualize video without subtitles, so fewer people are likely to attempt it.
Subtitles Increase Video Social Reach
According to Instapage, the use of subtitles can earn a video 15% more shares, 17% better reactions, and 26% more call-to-action clickthroughs.
In more general analytics, captioned videos on Facebook had 16% higher reach than those without. Overall, subtitles performed better on every measure that matters.
Captions Improve SEO
The aforementioned benefits also have an effect on SEO.
Dwell time, which has a positive effect on your rankings, increases if people spend more time watching your videos. Appealing to more people, like the hard of hearing and those who speak other languages, helps boost visits and reduce bounce rates. They can also give you a boost in the search rankings-- Google indexes captions you’ve added to videos (but not those that are generated automatically). This can make a big difference in how many people find and engage with your content.
Thankfully, adding subtitles to your video is relatively simple. All you need to do is identify the times you’d like a particular subtitle displayed, then add the text.
There are a number of subtitling apps that can help you out with this. Aegisub, for example, lets you know when you have too many characters per line or too much text in a single subtitle, based on how long it’s displayed.
Once you’ve created your subtitles, you can either store them in a separate file (so your video can be played with or without them) or encode them directly into the video (so they’re always displayed). In general, it’s better to give viewers the option to view them or not. But we’ve seen that adding subtitles increases accessibility, encourages better engagement, and even improves your search engine optimization.
Now that you know how important subtitles are, it's time to get out there and start adding them to your video. There’s really nothing you have to lose (except the potential for more viewers)!
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