If your videos underperform and you stall figuring out what goes wrong, think about adding captions and subtitles. Not because it’s just cool, but because it’s an absolute must in the modern online world. Here is why

You are a content creator. You make videos because it’s a growing trend and, according to Cisco, by 2022 online videos will make up over 82% of all consumer Internet traffic - 15 times higher than it was in 2017. You make entertaining, 4K quality videos and post them on all the popular video sharing platform - even on Facebook so your grandma could watch them (because you care).

You even made a video that has Kim K and cats in it, and yet the engagement rates leave much to be desired. Conspiracy theories aside, there must be an explanation of why it goes so wrong.

Consider creating closed captions or subtitles for your video content. This seems an obvious choice, but it would surprise you how many content creators often overlook it and feel sad watching their audience engagement statistics hit the Internet’s rock bottom.

First, let’s clear it up – what are closed captions and what are subtitles, anyway?

  • Captions is a process of dividing the transcript into parts, called ‘captioning frames’, and assigning a time code to each frame so it is synchronized with the audio of the video. Closed captioning is usually found at the bottom of the video screen.
  • Subtitles are the process by which speech or audio is converted into a written document (text, transcript) without time information.

Now, when we get this one out of the way, let’s take a closer look at what benefits captions and subtitles have for video content creation.

Better search engine indexing
This is techie stuff but bear with me here. All content creators know about Google crawlers. These digital web beasts sniff around to find and update web pages to add them to Google index, which is a thing that makes your pages visible – read ‘popular’. Obviously, your videos are not web pages, but they have some information attached to it. This info is called ‘metadata’ and the more of it you have they more chances the crawlers would like it. But they can get their little paws only on certain parts of video data. In other words, your videos must have as much relevant metadata as possible, and closed captions or subtitles are the key part of it. What could be more relevant than the written text covering your video?

Greater accessibility
According to Verizon Media and Publicis Media report, 69% of consumers view video with the sound off in public places and 25% watch with sound off in private places. Meanwhile, 50% of consumers say captions are important because they watch a video with sound off.

These numbers are huge and they should give you a hint on what is hot right now on the video content market. A failure to add captions means cutting off from 25% to 80% potential viewers.

Plus, don’t forget about audio challenged viewers who only can watch with subtitles. It’s 2020, dude, so don’t miss out!

Increase the time visitors spend on your website
It is simple maths. Verizon report says 80% of consumers are more likely to watch an entire video when captions are available. Watching the entire video means they spend more time doing so, AND, considering your videos are the best the Internet can offer, it increases chances they would like and share it. This is what you want, right?

Captions and subtitles are a source of derivative content
If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. In your video case, content it means if viewers like your videos you can always reshape it offering the same ideas in other formats. Thanks to captions and subtitles, you already have a source text for your next blog post. If your video is rich in data, statistics or quotes create an infographic, use it as a backlink, make use of it in any other way and don’t let go to waste what you already have on your hands.

The sky is the limit
Search engine crawlers would love to see you doing it, and happy Google bots mean your videos get indexed better, your website becomes more popular, and you getting the feedback you deserve.

You know what viewers want and how they want it, so there’s no need to go against the tide or you could lose up to 80% of those who watch videos in noisy environments (commuters on the subway) or places where it’s better to have your audio muted (students, public space visitor, etc).

Now when you have a general idea of why captions and subtitles are so important, it should be a no-brainer to add them to your next video.