Why Facebook Videos Need Subtitles

June 30, 2015 BY EMILY GRIFFIN
Updated: January 4, 2018

Facebook’s CMO and VP Gary Briggs spoke at Salesforce Connections conference in New York this month about trends in digital marketing. He mentioned how the auto-play feature for native Facebook video has changed how businesses should create promo videos.

Facebook auto-plays video on mute as the user scrolls down the newsfeed. Successful videos must be eye-catching enough to get the user to a) stop scrolling, and b) tap the video for sound.

Briggs noted that subtitles have been effective for engaging users in Facebook video in those first critical, silent moments.

The Biggest Mistake You’re Making on Facebook

Some brands still haven’t caught on and are losing viewers because they’re not creating videos with the assumption that the first few seconds will play without sound.

–Inc.

A recent Inc. article seized on this issue, calling uncaptioned video “the biggest mistake you’re making on Facebook.”

The Inc. article points out that “some brands still haven’t caught on and are losing viewers because they’re not creating videos with the assumption that the first few seconds will play without sound.”

Using text at the start of your video provides a competitive advantage that video creators cannot ignore.

Closed Captions vs. Open Captions on Facebook Videos

Facebook videos auto-play without sound or closed captions. Users need to engage with the video in order to activate either function. Currently, there is no feature available to force closed captions on for auto-play.

The solution: use open captions.

Open captions are subtitles that are burned into the video file itself. They cannot be toggled on and off like closed captions—they’re always on. This is the best way to ensure your subtitles display as your video plays on Facebook.

Why You Want to Subtitle the Entire Video

Subtitles are a simple solution to losing viewers from auto-played videos. According to Briggs, videos must pique a viewer’s interest within the first 3-7 seconds. Once you catch your viewer’s attention, you want to keep it.

Since 65% of Facebook videos are viewed on mobile devices, your viewer can be anywhere. They may be on a noisy train or in a quiet library. They may not have headphones with them. Or they may be deaf or hard of hearing. If, for whatever reason, they can’t hear essential audio, you’ll lose them.

However, if you add open captions to the entire video, the viewer can enjoy your content from start to finish without turning the sound on.

How to Add Open Captions to Facebook Videos

To burn subtitles into your video file, add open captions before uploading your video to Facebook.

Note that from a marketing perspective, open captions are more effective on Facebook videos because of user engagement, but YouTube videos perform better with closed captions because they are indexed for SEO.

 

 

Read the free report: 2017 State of Captioning.

The closed caption CC icon shown in the middle of a TV.