You’ve read all the best practices blog posts, took all the courses, showed the content to your friends - and they liked it! So…why don’t people on social media like it? You feel like you’re posting your video content for the crickets. People just don’t seem to watch it or engage with it.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that your video content is bad. Your video marketing could be on point, also. It’s just that people don’t get to see how good it is. They either don’t watch it for long enough, or they’re watching it with the sound off, so they opt out in seconds.
In other words, it’s not you.
It’s your video captions.
There are two ways you can go wrong with your video captions - they are either non-existent, or they are simply not good enough.
Yes - you might be creating content in English, and yes - the entire world already speaks English. BUT, that doesn’t mean people don’t need captions for videos. They use it for many reasons:
- Some of us don’t hear very well and captions help a lot
- Some of us aren’t focused 100% of the time and captions help us follow the storyline
- Some of us simply can’t pick up different dialects right away
This is what it means for the video content for your business and your video marketing.
Video Captioning Can Increase Your Watch Time
The logic behind this is very simple - the longer your average viewer watches your video, the better. With more clicks and longer watch times, your audience is signalling to the search engines that your video content is relevant and interesting. As a consequence, algorithms will work in your favour and offer your content to more and more people. And just like that - your video marketing is winning!
So, how come people aren’t sticking around after just a couple of seconds of your video? A good portion of those who simply opt-out from watching your otherwise enticing video is because they couldn’t hear it. Many people (some stats claim it’s over 90%) watch videos with the sound off.
Now, imagine a situation in which a person is thumbing through their social media accounts, whilst watching Netflix or listening to Spotify. Either way, they aren’t able to use headphones, but they are in the right mindset for an entertaining video.
They see your video. They like it! Excellent! You worked so hard to make it attractive to people. They click ‘play’ but then they realise that they won’t be able to get it because they can’t hear it. There are so many others to choose from, so - they hit “close” and move on.
Not only did you lose a potential viewer, but you also lost a viewer that you had. All that effort you put into SEO for your video content has been wasted.
If your viewers have the option of using captions, they are more likely to continue watching your videos for longer. Captions can make the entire experience more immersive and they can make your video content engaging even for those who watch their videos on mute.
You Need Good Video Captions for ALL Your Social Media Content
Yes. Even stories. You can be creative with it. There are some experts, however, who would disagree. For example, Kevin Kovanich, Director of Strategy at McGarryBowen Chicago. He said in an interview:
“Captions look super out-of-place in Stories,” he added. “Consumers aren’t using them, so neither should brands. We’re trying to connect with people in Stories, not stick out like a sore thumb.”
They might be. If you are a native English speaker. Truth be told, English-speaking audiences are the primary target of all marketing efforts, and with good reason. As a result, according to Statista, the UK marketing data market grows consistently.
“UK marketing data market was valued at 2.68 billion U.S. dollars in 2019, and it was expected to grow to 3.59 billion in 2021. In the U.S. the data market is expected to grow, from 21.2 to 30.6 billion dollars in the same period.”
However, when the target is so appealing, it also means that the market is very saturated. Everybody and their cousin are marketing to the USA. If you want to get the upper hand with your video marketing, you need to extend your reach.
It is true that many non-native English speakers successfully consume the content created in English, but they are far more likely to enjoy it if it has video captions - even if they are in English. Moreover, even many native English speakers say they use captions when watching long-format videos. It’s just easier and creates a more immersive experience.
Without Using Video Captions, You’re Sentencing Yourself to Automatic CCs
“But, we don’t need video captions! There are automatic CCs on all of our videos!” If this is what you’re thinking, drop everything you’re doing and re-watch your videos to check your closed captions. We are pretty sure that Elsa was NOT singing about Obama. We’re also sure that the creators relied on the accuracy of closed captions
Your video content should educate, inspire, or entertain. However, closed captions fails are an entirely different type of entertainment - in other words, you don’t want your videos to be laughed at.
Joking aside, this can be a serious punch at your branding efforts. If you are marketing a serious, reputable business, there’s no room for this type of branding mistake. The name of your business should not be associated with such basic slips.
Think of it as a nickname you earn at school just because of one goofy incident. One day, you accidentally spill a glass of water onto yourself, and for the rest of your education years, you are known as “wet-pants-kid.” This is the same thing - risk having one epic CC fail, and your branding video will earn you that nickname.
You’re Alienating Your Viewers with Bad Video Captions
Proper video subtitles can help create more engaging content that enhances the user experience. We don’t watch the video, and then pause to read the subtitles.
Our brains are awesome - they process all that information at the same time. Your “thinking apparatus” automates processing sound, visuals, and all other important cues. If everything fits in place, you are in for an immersive experience.
This means the opposite is also true. If your video subtitles aren’t well-positioned or your timestamping is not correct - it will stick out and ruin the experience entirely. In many cases, this is so distracting it puts people off from even watching the video.
Another way your can be alienating viewers with your bad video captions is if they don’t translate nuisances of translation well. Imagine watching Terminator, and when Swarzeneger says his legendary sentence “I’ll be back” it is translated into your language “See you later.”
Just like that - the entire legendary scene is lost on you. Moreover, you feel like the author didn’t really care enough to make this appropriate for you.
In other words, if your business has excellent video content, the subtitles need to be excellent, as well. Otherwise, your non-native speakers will feel disrespected or at least not cared for. Moreover, the discrepancy in timestamping will make your videos unwatchable even for your loyal audience.
Even the Best of the Best Got It Wrong With Captioning
If this is the first time you’re taking your video subtitles more seriously than before, don’t feel too bad about it. Even the best of the best made similar mistakes. In a very thought-provoking piece, Guardian suggests that even the hit Netflix series, Squid Game suffers from similar problems.
Namely, there is so much of the series lost in the translation that some native speakers of Korean think that bad subtitles caused a misinterpretation of some key characters and even a subtle, yet focal dig at capitalism that Squid Game is all about.
Squid Game may have become a huge success even with bad video captions, but are you willing to take that chance with your video marketing? Of course, you don't. Here's what you can do right now to make this right.
How to Turn all This Around
There are several options for your video subtitling to really work. You need to meet several factors:
- Proper translation
- Accurate timestamping
- Efficient process of video subtitling
Let’s tackle one by one:
#1 Proper translation
Even though AI is expanding faster than ever in the history of humankind, it has not figured out how to translate properly yet. The best and the safest way to get well-translated content for your videos is to transcribe it, give it to a professional translator, and upload it while paying close attention to timestamping.
You can also hire an agency that does this process for you entirely. This process requires time and can get pretty expensive.
Your other option is to have an automatic translation done and then have a team member or hire outside talent, to go over it and fix the mistakes.
#2 Accurate timestamping
Lagging subtitles annoy you so much you don’t know what’s happening half the time you’re watching the videos. Subtitles that are too fast are literal spoilers written on your screen. Both options make a horrible user experience.
Never leave your timestamping unchecked. You need an efficient, easy to use tool that helps you adjust timestamping as you watch the video before you release it to the public. Choose a tool that doesn’t make this process too long or complicated. Otherwise, it won’t pay off.
#3 Efficient process of video subtitling
If it all takes too long, it may not be worth your while. You want to invest in your video marketing, that’s for sure, but your ROI is at stake if the production of a single promotion video takes forever and drains your marketing budget.
You need to make sure the entire process is streamlined. Your video creation, transcription, and the translation should be easily connected processes. This is a collaborative process, so you need a platform that allows team members to work together without turning it into a monster email thread with a bucket of attachments.
It all comes down to this - people don’t hate your video - you just need to make it more accessible to more people. For this to be feasible for you, you need to figure out a video subtitling process that pays off.