Why you need to add subtitles to your social videos – and how you can do it!
We live in a world where most internet browsing is done ‘on the go’, with 71% of people in 2016 accessing the internet via a mobile or smartphone. This means that people don’t necessarily want videos that appear on their social media feeds playing out loud for everyone around them to hear, and might become embarrassed when they do; in fact, 85% of video views on Facebook are mute. But what does this mean in terms of getting your message across? How are people supposed to understand what you want to say if they can’t hear you? This is where subtitles and closed-captions come in. They can help to spread your message globally, increase video views and are super easy to put into place!
Are Subtitles Worth The Effort?
In short, yes. Research has found that 41% of Facebook videos are meaningless without sound. Many people will stop viewing in under three seconds if they can’t hear the audio; Facebook counts a view as anything longer than 3 seconds, this means these videos technically losing a huge amount of their potential views. Facebook’s stats also suggest that less than 8% of people viewing a video will ever click on it to activate the sound, so if your message is audio-dependent, you’re missing out on the majority of your potential impact. Subtitles are an easy way to turn this around. Clients have consistently found that adding subtitles has increased their view rates, extended the average session length by over 35% and reduced the number of bounces (people closing the video within the first 3 seconds) dramatically. All of that, on top of expanding their global audience as well. One client found the view times of their videos increased by 30-50% after adding subtitles, giving audiences more time and opportunity to understand their message.
Do They Need To Be Translated?
Might seem like an obvious answer really, but it depends on who you are targeting with your social video; if you are looking for international reach then, yes, you should translate your subtitles in whichever languages you are looking to target. But even if you’re not, as we’ve mentioned above, simply adding English subtitles to your videos increases your viewing rates massively.
Translating subtitles isn’t technically all that difficult. You need to have a good quality transcript of the video, with good time codes. Your translation company should be able to do this for you, but it’s pretty easy to get hold of yourself. You must choose a translation company that works with subtitling, and one with a specialisation in online marketing material. A generalist translation company may well struggle to give you translated subtitles that still pack a punch. Translating subtitles is a real art, and it’s not easy. But, on the plus side, most social videos are fairly short (according to Facebook, the average length is below 3 minutes) and subtitle translators tend to charge per minute (though many will have a minimum charge), the cost of translating subtitles for social media videos is usually a great deal lower than clients expect. To many savvy international businesses, video subtitling is one of the first ports of call when look to turn their existing assets into international marketing tools. Remember that, as with all translation, subtitling costs will vary from language to language as, due to the laws of supply and demand, some languages are more expensive than others.
What Benefits Do I Get From Adding Subtitles?
Besides the obvious benefit that more people will be able to understand your video, even if they are browsing on silent, your videos will also get greater international reach through SEO. Readable subtitles (i.e. subtitles that aren’t burnt on to the video and can be switched on or off) are automatically indexed by Google, meaning they will feature in the search engine. Having said this, the subtitles will need to be concise and feature keywords for SEO to work – all the more reason to use a specialist! If your social videos are on YouTube, adding the full (translated) transcription into the description will help to give you a boost in the search engines, meaning more people are likely to see your video and watch it. If you are sceptical, why not try your most ‘valuable’ videos first – the ones that are most likely to drive sales or further clicks.
Integro’s SEO tip: if you host the video on your own website, make sure that it is correctly flagged and given the right language code in the webpage’s properties.
Can I Just Use Automatic Subtitling?
You could use the automatic subtitle generating tools on your social videos, but this would be a huge risk. They are unreliable and often littered with mistakes, meaning important information could be completely misrepresented to someone solely relying on the subtitles, and in some cases words are completely omitted. Not only does this make your video look unprofessional, it means marketing campaigns are not effective and the subtitles are nearly pointless. Even if you do use an automatic subtitle generator, they will only be generated in the language that the video is in. What’s more, automatically generated subtitles do not get indexed by Google, meaning you don’t get the SEO benefits. In fact, this could actually damage your SEO, as Google may mistake these errors as pure spam, preventing you from ranking highly in search engines.
Can I Do It Myself?
Creating English subtitles for your own videos is possible, and this could help cut out a step when it comes to translation, as translators will know exactly what you want to be translated. As a basic explanation, you can fairly easily create closed captions or subtitles on videos on YouTube, and this will automatically sync the written text to the spoken words. You can then download the subtitles in .srt format and use this as a basis for your translators. However, to get a more precise result, you might want to use subtitling software, such as Aegisub, which allows you to put text on the screen as and when you want it. There are full tutorials on how to use both YouTube and Aegisub to create your subtitles. TIP: Before you start, you may want to transcribe your video’s audio; this will save you from trying to understand what is being said as you try to place it at the correct time.
Is There Anything Else I Should Know?
For your subtitles to be accessible and natural for your audience, keep these tips in mind:
– You should try to ensure that text appears a few milliseconds before it is being voiced, and it should not remain on the screen for longer than necessary.
– If your video is for any kind of official purposes, or for sale, or television, we don’t advise you DIY anything. There are specific conventions and rules for how subtitles should ideally be laid out.
– Remember that reading speeds differ per language. English speakers are generally comfortable around 13 characters per second (CPS).
– Leave a gap between the disappearance of one set of subtitles and the appearance of the next set so that viewers can recognise that the text has changed.
– Text should be kept concise, limited to one or two lines on the screen so that viewers are able to read and take in the information before it disappears.
– If you’re experiencing difficulty keeping reading speeds down, condense and simply unnecessarily wordy or longwinded sentences.
Subtitling and translating your social videos won’t be a quick task, it makes your videos so much more accessible to a wider public, and means that the potential revenue increase is worth the time, effort and money spent. Integro can help with your subtitling needs, in whichever languages you need. Get in touch for more information.