Here at Stone’s Throw Media we spend an awful lot of time preaching about the benefits of video over other mediums such as text.
This isn’t too surprising when you consider that A) We’re a video production company (apologies if that has come as a shock) and B) There are loads of stats about the power of video e.g. Research shows that 4x as many shoppers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it.
Does that mean then that we think the humble written word is COMPLETELY redundant in this digital age?
Well, no, actually.
Because we need to talk about subtitles, and why your video needs them!
What are subtitles?
Let’s start with the basics.
Subtitles are the text captions displayed on a screen (usually – but not always! – at the bottom) that translate or transcribe the dialogue or narrative.
Many of you will, we’re sure, be familiar with television subtitles, and those of a certain vintage might remember pressing 888 on Ceefax to activate them!
Are subtitles the same thing as closed captions?
No they’re not – although they’re very similar and we can understand why people might think they’re the same thing!
Whereas subtitles provide a text alternative for dialogue alone, closed captions provide text for…well….everything – dialogue, background noises, music, etc.
Essentially, closed captioning assumes an audience cannot hear any audio and need a text description of what they would otherwise be hearing.
OK. So why are subtitles important?
Having subtitles and closed captions on your videos is now more important than ever. Here’s a few reasons why:
Accessibility for all
According to the charity Hearing Link, it is estimated that there are approximately 11 million people in the UK with a hearing loss – with 900,000 of these severely or profoundly deaf.
As strong as your video’s visuals may be, if it also contains a voice-over imparting important information (alliteration not intended) then your video’s message is being lost on those with a hearing loss.
Therefore the addition of subtitles will make your video accessible to a significant chunk of the country’s population – something which can only be a good thing!
No matter which mode of public transport you’re on, it’s always good to be a considerate commuter.
Not putting your baggage on seats, turning that annoying clicking sound that your phone makes when you type off, not broadcasting your phone conversation to the entire carriage – there are things we can all do to make our fellow commuters journeys that little less stressful.
Watching videos with the sound off – if you don’t have your earphones or AirPods with you, of course – is another thing you can do to be considerate towards others.
Doing this doesn’t mean that your video’s voice-over has to disappear altogether, however. Just add subtitles to give it a text alternative and keep your message intact.
Video now has a huge presence on every social media platform going, and it’s only going to get more and more prevalent.
It’s not always practical for a person to have the sound on when browsing their social media channels of choice, however – particularly for those people unfortunate enough to still have the ‘Auto-Play Videos’ feature turned on.
Therefore if your organisation has placed a video reliant on a voice-over on one of its social media platforms, and your target audience has their volume turned off…well, you’ll need subtitles to get your message across!
All of the above may be obvious to you, but here’s one that might not – Search Engine Optimisation, AKA SEO.
Yes, having subtitles on your video really can have a positive impact on your SEO!
In simple language – search engines can’t “watch” your videos, but they can “read” the metadata attached to them – e.g. their titles, descriptions, and tags.
Got a particular keyword in this metadata that you want a search engine to pick up on?
Well, putting that keyword in your video (and thus your subtitles) increases its “depth” (the number of times your keyword is found) thus making it more likely that it will get indexed.
What does this mean? It means that your video becomes more discoverable (which is what you want!) and increases your search engine ranking in the process. Result!
So, that’s what subtitles are, and a few reasons why they’re important to have! Thanks for reading!