Today I want to talk about closed captioning and subtitles, and why they’re so effective. (And how to add them yourself!)
- It helps you reach people with hearing loss
- It’s the age of mobile, so if people are scrolling, they’ll be able to see your subtitles and get an idea of what your video’s about
- There are big SEO benefits because it allows search engines to understand your video content
- And it’s also good for translation; it’s easy to add different languages
The first thing you need to know about captions is that a cc (closed caption) file is called an SRT file. You’ll hear me mention that a lot in this video. An SRT file is actually just a plain text file that contains info about your transcribed subtitles and the start and end times of the subtitles.
There’s two ways that you can do closed captioning. The first is “native” — Facebook and YouTube have the option to click on and off subtitles; they’re not actually burned right into the video. It’s not part of the video itself.
The second way is to embed them directly into the video; we call it “burned in”. Unfortunately, when you burn in the subtitles, you’re not going to get the same SEO performance.
YouTube is awesome for creating SRT files. That’s often what we use. You can actually follow along pretty easily once you upload your video to YouTube, you type out are transcribe your video, and play around with the timing. Make sure to adjust the timing and the way the sentences are structured. YouTube is going to try to do a good job of putting those sentences at the right times, but you usually have to do a little bit of restructuring so that your subtitles aren’t starting in the middle of a sentence. We want it to look as clean as possible. Then you can download the final SRT file from YouTube!
So once you have your SRT file, you can upload it with your video to Facebook, LinkedIn, or you can import it into your editing software. We use Adobe Premier, where you can pull it in and customize it from there. (You can also create the SRT files right in Premier, although we find YouTube pretty intuitive.)
You can create an SRT file right in Facebook too, you just can’t export it and use it on other platforms. But if you’re only posting your video to Facebook, it’s a good solution.
So that’s just a quick intro to closed captioning; if you have any questions, feel free to reach out. It’s pretty straight forward once you start playing around with it, I’m sure you’ll get it right!