An issue that has surfaced with the increasing use of mobile devices for viewing social media platforms is the platforms’ policies regarding videos. Usually, these platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, tend to launch videos automatically but without volume. Only when the viewer is genuinely interested and wishes to watch the video would they consider switching on audio. This makes sense when you think about how many people tend to scroll through their social media in public spaces or in the crowd, where videos starting in full audio could be embarrassing and disturbing for everyone around them.
A blasting sound in a completely silent place would be no better. While this may make sense for the user, the creator has to factor it in a while deciding on how they wish to present the video. If you want actually to attract the user’s attention, your video will have to communicate enough information in those first few seconds of silence to encourage the user to follow through the entire video. Hence, the concept of captions becomes increasingly important. They can help the user understand what they’re watching even when they don’t have the convenience of listening to audio. Essentially, captions were intended as a means of attracting the user’s attention and highlighting the key elements of the video. There are different ways of including captions in your videos, and it’s important to understand them before you make a decision about which one works best for your video and target audience.
Also, make sure you understand the difference between captions and subtitles even though the two terms have started being used interchangeably. Captions are the bits of text which are presented for the particular scenario where audio has been turned off. Subtitles are on-screen words which run when sound is already playing and are primarily intended for other users, such as those who may have hearing impairments or those who face language barriers. The difference is harder to understand today and has become almost irrelevant.
- SOFT CAPTIONS: These are the captions that the viewer sees on top of the video and which can often be generated by specific tools within the social media platform itself. They can also be created by uploading caption files along with the video, a relatively simple and intuitive process. These are supported on Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn, but Instagram and Twitter continue to hold out on this function. The main advantage which this gives the user is that they have the freedom to turn it on or off at their convenience. The creator also benefits since the keywords from the soft caption can add to YouTube search benefits, but only when the caption file has been specifically uploaded. Keep in mind that you can exploit this feature to your greatest benefit only if you upload caption files that have the keywords that your video intends. The disadvantage with this feature is that you will have to have a deep understanding of how it works before you can begin to use it. If you have trouble understanding how to generate these files, you may have to spend a substantial amount on getting these captions made from a third party. Moreover, the person uploading the captions has very little control over how they will appear in terms of fonts, size, or transitional aspects.
- HARD CAPTIONS: Hard captions are captions that are included in the video while it is being produced and edited. They are permanent and do not involve the efforts that soft captions need. They are independent of the user’s wishes since they cannot be switched on or off throughout the video. The prime advantage here is that the captions are burnt into the video file which reduces your dependency on others who know how to manage social media caption generation and make sure your video can be understood irrespective of the audio status. Moreover, this gives you complete control over how your captions will look. This can also be seen as a disadvantage, mainly by those users who prefer their videos without captions. Moreover, you may need to generate uncaptioned videos for other specific reasons which will late up extra time and effort.
Hopefully, this is enough to get you started with using captions for your videos and deciding the type that is most useful for your intents and purposes. Comment below, if you found this article useful! Good Luck!