Breaking Down the Benefits (and Technology) Behind Closed Captions on Social Media

Michelle HeathersSeptember 22, 2021Tips

As all social media marketers know, video content is king. Videos started circulating and hitting viral status on the internet more than 20 years ago , but have surged in popularity with emerging platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and others. When the pandemic forced many around the world into quarantine, video content increased not only from users but from brands and social media marketers as well.

By the end of 2022, it’s expected that video streaming and downloads will account for over 80% of all global internet traffic , and it’s easy to see why. From funny animal videos to makeup tutorials to PR unboxings, video content is easy to consume and seemingly endless. But with this surge in popularity comes an increased call to make video content accessible and inclusive, and social media platforms are answering this call with technology, including open and closed captioning, automated captions, and more.

Due to this huge increase, social media marketers should take note.

The Benefits of Closed Captions

Here today in 2021, 87% of people are captioning their content, with half being driven by goals of equal access and accessibility. Beyond just avoiding a digital accessibility lawsuit (which increased 20% in 2020 ), as Hootsuite puts it, “inclusive social media marketing is just good social media marketing.” Inclusivity in social media marketing paves the way for a better experience for all users and provides more ways for users to engage with your content. While closed captions primarily address the needs of the hearing impaired, the technology also helps those with language barriers or those who just prefer to view content without sound (and believe us when we say this audience is huge !).

Basically, inclusivity increases access for all.

Captioning and transcription also lend themselves to increased audience engagement, brand loyalty and can even boost your SEO strategy . How is this accomplished? When captions are added to video content, a text-based .SRT file is also created, which means search engines can now effectively “read” your video. This simple addition to your video content can now make it more searchable, moving it up in rankings and ultimately result in more views. When maximizing video content is a marketing focus, you don’t want to miss this vital piece!

The Technology Behind Captions

Whether you choose subtitles, closed or open captions, live captions, or auto-generated text, the technology making video content more accessible is here. Instagram unveiled its Closed Captions Stickers for Instagram Stories just this summer, and Facebook has auto-generated caption options that can also create a downloadable .SRT file for use on other platforms.

Video content titan TikTok recently unveiled a slew of caption options to show their commitment to accessibility. These include classic closed/open caption options, as well as animated thumbnails, creator warnings for videos with effects (like photosensitive triggers for people with epilepsy), as well as a text-to-speech feature.

Twitter has also increased its accessibility offerings when it comes to closed captions. This summer, they released automated captions for Voice Tweets, allowing users to create captions with the click of an icon. This addition is just one step in Twitter’s ultimate goal for increased inclusivity with its products and offerings, according to their global accessibility team.

The Future of Accessibility on Social Media

With video content on a seemingly never-ending rise, it’s safe to say that social media platforms will only increase their technology and strategy when it comes to digital accessibility. And while caption technology hasn’t been perfected quite yet, social media marketers should still embrace this trend for increased access and engagement for all of their followers. As global brands, like Verizon Media and others, make bold commitments to advance accessibility, so too should social media marketers examine their own goals and strategy when it comes to accessibility and inclusivity for video content.

What accessibility tech are you currently using or planning to utilize to create more engagement in your content? Let us know!

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