With all the time spent agonizing over Instagram captions and TikTok descriptions, it’s a wonder more people don’t take a moment to caption their video content. Adding captions to videos is like adding another dimension to your post. People who can’t watch or hear the video can still consume your content. Who doesn’t want to boost post-performance while making their content more accessible to their audience?
Video encompasses a massive chunk of content on the internet these days. You can’t really scroll through any of the popular social media platforms without encountering video.
Not everyone keeps their sound on, though– especially with platforms like TikTok and Reels that autoplay videos. If you’ve ever tried scrolling through TikTok in front of a mom who has a “no unnecessary noise” sign posted above her fireplace at all times, you’d know that one trendy sound after another can end up sounding like an undesirable cacophony to those around you.
Recent data shows that between 53% and 78% of people prefer to watch videos without sound. The study looked at video completions per advertising objective with the sound both on and off. 68.4% of engagements and 77.7% of conversions occurred with the video sound off.
There are many reasons people cut their sound off, but there is a constant among all these circumstances. Adding captions to video content makes it easier to grab these users’ attention. Here are some of the most notable benefits of adding captions to video content:
Accessibility is the number one reason you should always add captions to your video content. Deaf and hard of hearing (HoH) people cannot enjoy your content without them. By not including captions, you close yourself off to an entire community that could join your audience.
Some people just don’t like watching videos with the sound on. Others keep the sound off until a video inspires them to click the volume-up button. Caption your videos, and you can snag the attention of both groups. Sound-off users can watch your videos all the way through, using the captions to understand what is going on without any audio. The latter group can use the first few seconds of captions to decide whether or not they want to turn the sound on and watch the video all the way through.
Adding captions makes your content easier to understand. This is especially helpful for viewers who have a hard time understanding certain voices, are new to the language you are speaking, or take a bit longer to process information. Having the extra layer of information also acts as cognitive reinforcement. Giving viewers the opportunity to read and listen to what you say simultaneously helps the content stick in their brain. They will remember what you said for longer, which could keep your products on their mind until they’re ready to make a purchase.
You can caption your videos in any language, helping you reach new audiences and adding another layer of inclusivity to your content.
Closed captions can be turned on and off by the viewer. They are made available via decoders and include descriptions of all auditory elements.
The kind we are talking about (open captions) are always visible to the viewer and cannot be turned off.
There are a few ways to caption your videos, some requiring less effort than others. Here are a couple examples to follow:
The most important thing to remember is that users should be able to completely understand your video concept without turning on the sound.
Most video platforms have some form of auto-generated caption tool. Instagram has the caption feature for English-speaking countries. This auto-populates captions for videos that use the feature. You can find it in the sticker section. Click the “Captions” sticker, and you’re good to go.
TikTok has a similar feature on its in-platform editing screen. Click the “Captions” button to generate text. You can edit any words that need correcting before you post.
You may want to ditch the auto-generated captions and add them straight to your video with text. In this case, we recommend you get creative with your captions and inject them with a little bit of branded spice. Choose a font and color that fits your Instagram aesthetic, and stick with it. If you have any quirks in the way you speak, (like saying biss or fork to replace certain internet-unfriendly words) make sure to use them in your captions. Make the captions sound like you.
If you ramble, you might want to try the summary method. This is especially popular in Stories. Basically, instead of transcribing every word that comes out of your mouth, type of a cohesive summary of what you said (without the ums, buts, and likes).