According to a 2019 study from Verizon Media and Publicis Media, 69% of people watch videos without sound in public places.
Another research by Facebook also found that 85% of its users watch or begin watching videos with the sound off.
Different people have unique learning styles — and different ways that they prefer to consume content. The 3 primary ways people consume content these days are via video, audio, and/or text. Certain people also require assistive technology to be able to consume content mostly for 2 reasons:
- They may be unable to see (or read) and require audio content.
- They're unable to hear and require visual/written content.
This is why subtitles, captions, and transcriptions are essential to your content marketing as a just marketer. You'll find out how to use these tools in your content in this episode.
But First, Some Definitions.
Subtitles translate the audio output from a video into different languages. An easy example is English subtitles on the hit anime show My Hero Acadamia (anyone else have kids absolutely addicted to that show?).
These are transcriptions of dialogue that are synchronized with the audio on a video. If you’re watching this episode via You Tube or the video on my blog, you’ll see the captions right at the bottom of the video. These captions are also known as “open captions.”
Open captions are hard coded into the video and are always in view. You can not turn them off. You can edit open captions for accuracy in the case of a mistake. One pro to open captions is that you can post the video anywhere and at any time, and the captions will still be there.
Unlike open captions, closed captions can be turned on/off by the viewer (like your captions for Netflix). You can create closed captions on platforms like YouTube. Just make sure you edit them for accuracy. It’s essential that you edit the captions because even the best captioning software isn’t 100% accurate, and in order for content to be truly accessible, it’s not enough to simply have captions – they also need to be accurate.
Transcriptions are text conversions of speech/audio content that are often accompanied by timestamps and can be copied into a word document or PDF.
Subtitles have a role to play in creating accessible content – But in this episode we’re focused on captions and transcriptions.
Leveraging Captions And Transcriptions
Anytime you create content, you need to evaluate whether it's accessible – if all people will be able to access it. In many cases, the answer will be no. To be accessible, you have to take extra steps to provide an alternative way to consume the content.
The good thing is that captions and transcriptions make it possible for you to convert one content form to another to reach as many of your audiences as possible. Here's my process with content to demonstrate what I mean.
My Steps For Creating Accessible Content
I like to start with writing, so I write the content first. Next, I record a video where I explain whatever subject I've written about. Sometimes I'll add slides with images to support the content. I put the written content on my blog along with a captioned video (hosted by YouTube).
After I upload the video, I strip the audio from the video and share that on podcast platforms. This way, no matter how you prefer to consume content, you have a way to consume my content. Some people I know start with video, strip the audio, and transcribe the video into a blog post.
So the important thing to note here is that there are no rules. Do what works for you, provided the end goal is to make your content more accessible.
I use HappyScribe to transcribe my audio/ video content. HappyScribe can also convert the transcription to open captions on the video.
I’ve also recently discovered Descript and am falling in love with their capabilities which include captioning and transcriptions as well as editing and a bunch of other features.
Which tech is best for you will really depend on how much you will need to use it, and what other needs your business has. If, for example you produce a podcast or video show regularly, Descript may be the best option because it has so many features. You may even be able to cancel some existing tools and use Descript for all the things. If you don’t do a lot of editing, and you really just need captioning and transcriptions, Happy Scribe may be more your speed.
Why Captions and Transcriptions Are Important
You've seen how you can convert a single content to different content forms and optimize them using captions and transcriptions. Now let's see how exactly these would help. Generally, captions and transcriptions provide a better experience for viewers with learning disabilities or other types of neurodiversity.
They are also helpful if:
- A video has poor audio
- A speaker has an accent
- A speaker talks quickly (I feel personally called out by this one!)
- You're in a noisy environment
- You're trying not to disturb people around you
Tips On Captioning & Transcribing
The overall context of your content is important when captioning or transcribing your content:
- When captioning, describe any sounds heard on the audio if they're contextually important.
- Similarly, if you're transcribing audio or video, you also want to describe any visual or audible elements that are contextually important
- When captioning/transcribing — if there is more than one person on the audio/video, make sure you indicate when a different person is talking.
Not everyone is interested in creating inclusive and accessible content for their business. But more people should be.
I’m newly addicted to Instagram Reels (make sure you’re following me on IG @theMegBrunson) and it’s disappointing how many people aren’t adding captions to their video content.
More people should be adding captions to their video content and transcribing them into blogs for people who prefer to read.
That’s Just Marketing™!