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How To Caption Your Content Across All Social Media Platforms

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Video can be an incredibly powerful tool to spread the story of your brand – but is yours accessible for all?

Video is now an essential part of the social media experience. It provides a highly compelling vehicle for storytelling, and captures the attention in a way that eclipses static content like text or photography. So it’s not surprising that, according to a study released by We Are Social, 70% of companies are planning to focus on video this year. However, video needs to be more than just visually stunning and competently produced—it needs to be enjoyable for all, including the 466 million people globally who are deaf or hard of hearing. Increasingly, this means including closed captioning and subtitling for the videos you produce and post on your brand’s behalf.

Thankfully, a number of leading social media platforms are shouldering part of the responsibility for this task. In creating these options, their hope is that more friends, followers, and partners will be able to enjoy and learn from your content. If you’re looking to get started captioning video, here’s how to do it.

Twitter

Twitter’s support for native subtitling is the newest of the platforms we’ll discuss; it was added to their suite of accessibility options within the last month. Available in the Twitter Media Studio, the process requires the uploading of an SRT (SubRip Subtitle) file, composed with relative ease via Notepad or Text Edit on your computer.

Once you designate the language of origin, you’re now ready to release a video that can be easily understood. Given that 93% of Twitter videos are watched without sound, it is a highly advantageous feature for your video content.

Facebook

Reportedly, 80% of social media users react negatively when an ad or other video auto-plays with sound; captioning content that shows up in these feeds can help you grab attention without arousing shock or ire. Facebook has a few options for subtitling video; the company released an “auto-caption” option in 2017, but it has come under occasional fire for its accuracy. They’re not alone in this challenge (YouTube faces it as well) – any site’s automatic option is subject to the interpretation of the technology used to decipher it. Should you wish to avoid these flubs and upload your own, you can do so after uploading the video.

Once the upload is complete, click “Subtitles and Captions” in the right hand column. You’ll be asked about the native language of the video; select the one that is appropriate for the content you’re sharing. Then, you can upload the SRT file containing your video’s script and captioning timestamps. And if you do want to chance the discretion of an auto-subtitling, you can select that option here as well.

YouTube

As you might expect, the streaming video giant places a high premium on accessible video. A less expected development: as of press time, the Beta version of their Creator Studio doesn’t support the subtitling or captioning of uploaded video. Users wishing to assure a video’s accessibility for the hearing-impaired have to revert back to the “Classic” version of the studio and complete the task there. Looking to help advocate for the change? When you toggle from the Beta version to the Classic edition, report your need for captioning and subtitling support as the “reason” for switching.

Once in the Classic version of the Studio, go to the Video Manager and select the video you’d like to caption. Next to that video, click the drop down menu near the “Edit” option. Select the Subtitles/CC option; from there, you’ll be prompted to either allow auto-subtitling or to upload an SRT file containing your video’s text and timestamps. A benefit of YouTube’s subtitling options is the “in-between” option of sharing a video’s text, and having the platform help you “auto-sync” your words to the video’s timing needs. It serves as an elegant solution for those with a transcript but no sense of how the words are timed in the video.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is one of the newest platforms to support video, but the delayed gamble is paying off- now that the format is prioritized in the News Feed, video posts are reportedly being viewed at a rate nearing 50%. Given the newness of their support for the medium, it makes some sense that their support for subtitling is currently only available for desktop users. But given the rapid pace of innovation for the platform, this is likely to change soon.

Upload your video as you normally would. When the video preview appears, click the Edit icon in the upper right corner to reveal the Video Settings. From here, you can “Select File” and upload your SRT file. Save the file addition, and click “Post.” From that point forward, your video will appear with subtitles.

Who’s Missing?

It may seem as though the major players have addressed this challenge admirably, but there is one notable omission to the lineup: Instagram. Despite the popularity of video on the platform, and its exponentially increasing use, there still is no support for native subtitling on the platform- much to the frustration of accessibility advocates and activists. More motivated users can seek out third-party tools to fill this gap, but a lack of native capability might provoke the question: why won’t Instagram make it easy for its users to communicate with the deaf and hard of hearing?

Speaking of third-party tools, it should be noted that many common dashboard tools, designed to streamline social media posting and scheduling (i.e. Buffer, Hubspot, TweetDeck) are ill-equipped to help its users easily caption video. For this reason, native capability on respective platforms is crucial. If you are a user of these tools, advocate to their support teams for the addition of these features. Their tools – and the platforms they want to simplify access to – have the power to streamline and simplify storytelling for us all. But those stories should be ones that all can enjoy. And until these options are made compulsory and easy to use, that simply won’t be the case.

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