Universal Access & Other Benefits of Captioned Social Media Videos

May 1, 2020 BY JACLYN LEDUC
Updated: May 14, 2020

The 2020 State of Captioning survey revealed that the top reasons for captioning social media videos are to make them more accessible and more engaging.

People are right to recognize the benefits that captioned social media videos offer to all viewers, with and without disabilities. A study by Ofcom found that 80% of television viewers that use closed captions are not deaf or hard of hearing, suggesting that captions offer benefits beyond accessibility.

 

Beginners Guide to Accessible Social Media Videos

 

Benefits of Captioning Social Media Videos

Why should you caption social media videos?

The reasons are plentiful. Captions make social media videos accessible to people who are deaf and hard of hearing, improve user engagement and experience, and help content to reach a wider audience.

Accessibility

Man lounging on couch browsing social media.

Closed captions are essential for making social media videos accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. For someone who is deaf, they can’t consume video audio and need captions to follow along with dialogue and sound effects. For people who are hard of hearing, it may be challenging to follow along with the audio without captions.

With more than 466 million people worldwide with some degree of hearing loss, captioning video content ensures that they have equal access to your social media videos.

User Experience & Engagmenet

Brands use social media to tell stories, to engage their audience, and to leave a lasting impression on the minds of those who view their content. Social media videos are valuable because they create both a visual and auditory experience for viewers.

There’s a reason why captioned videos yield better engagement metrics than videos without captions. Adding captions helps to strengthen the visual experience that your audience knows and loves and makes it easier for viewers to follow along with the video as it plays. A study by the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science also found that captions improve brand recall, verbal memory, and behavioral intent.

You would be remiss to discount the role that captions play in creating a memorable viewing experience. Plus, it is a powerful tool that leaves a strong brand impression.

Viewing Flexibility

Woman in kitchen browsing social media.

Think about the last time you watched a video on your social media feed. Where were you? Were you wearing headphones? If not, how did you watch the video with the sound off?

If you watch videos in sound-sensitive environments with captions, you’re not the only one. A study by Verizon Media and Publicis Media found that viewers not only want captions, but they expect them. For social media videos, 41% indicated that they expected the content to provide captions.

Viewers prefer captioned videos because they allow viewing flexibility in different environments, such as a noisy subway or a quiet library.

  • 41% of videos are incomprehensible without sounds.
  • 80% say they’re more likely to watch an entire video when captions are available.
  • 29% continued watching videos without sound because captions were available.

Expand Your Reach

In the US alone, there are over 350 languages spoken. There are millions of English language learners (ELLs) and non-native English speakers – not to mention your social media followers from outside of the US.

Consuming social media videos in a different language than your own can be challenging – that’s where captions come in.

Captioned videos can help ELLs with language development and make it easier for non-native English speakers to more easily follow along with the dialogue. You can even take it a step further and offer translations or other language subtitles to cater to those who speak different languages.

 

 Want to make your social media videos more accessible? This guide is for you. ➡️ 

 

Accessibility 101: Social Media Videos and Other Content

When brands share content on social media, they must present it in a way that is accessible, engaging, and memorable. Adding captions to social media videos is a great way to provide a better, more accessible experience for everyone.

The Golden Rules of Social Media Accessibility

John Foliot, a Principal Accessibility Strategist at Deque Systems, notes that there are specific Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) that translate to social media videos and other content. Overall, he suggests sticking to the Golden Rules of Social Media Accessibility:

Man lying on couch browsing social media.

Be reachable

Be at the ready when your followers have challenges accessing your content. Provide your contact information on your social media profiles and link to your accessibility policy if you have it.

Be redundant

When it comes to accessibility, being redundant is a good thing. Posting on multiple social channels provides people with more access points to your content, and therefore makes it more accessible to more people.

Be a source

Caring about accessibility is cool. Being a source means learning about accessibility issues and sharing that information with your followers.

Be simple

Don’t make things complicated, because that’s not helpful for anyone. Aim to write in plain language and be careful with the use of acronyms, hashtags, and abbreviations.

Be considerate

Show your followers that you’ve got their backs. When creating and sharing content to social media, always consider the user’s perspective. For channels that are image-heavy, like Instagram, don’t forget to add alt text.


The time has come when viewers not only want captions, but they expect them. The numbers don’t lie – captioned social media videos perform better than videos without captions.

With a bit of dedication and captioning prioritization, your social media videos could be more successful than ever.

 

The Ultimate Guide to Accessible Social Media Videos

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