Social media is an essential communications tool for all charities. At RNID, we use our social media channels to build our brand, engage with our communities, gain new followers, and provide updates on our campaigns and services.
And video has a big role to play when creating communications for social channels. When we asked our followers what makes content accessible for them on social media. They overwhelmingly told us that captions are the most important way for them to be included in content.
In fact, video has become a vital part of many charities’ social media strategies, with the majority of platforms favouring it over static images. Why? Because Twitter posts that use video receive 10 times more engagement compared to posts without video, whilst 93% of companies have acquired new customers through social media videos. So, with video being so important, learning how to caption them has become more essential than ever.
Captions are essential for the 12 million adults in the UK who are deaf or have hearing loss. So, if you want your social media content to be accessible to everyone, it makes sense to caption the videos you create as part of this. It’s also a potentially easy double win as it’s not just people with hearing loss who value captions – research shows that more and more young people are also choosing to consume content in this way too.
Here are some of the benefits and pitfalls to think about as you get started…
Using automatic captions
Pros – Most social media platforms give you the option to turn on automatic captions, which are a great way to make your videos accessible if you have limited time and resources.
The platforms featured in our social media guide – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube – all give the option to add automatic captions.
Cons – automatic captions are not always 100% accurate, which can be confusing for viewers or even embarrassing (see this blog for some funny captioning errors). Some platforms such as TikTok let you adjust captions if you notice any mistakes, but most don’t.
Although automatic captions are available on most platforms, they won’t display on Facebook reels. If your video has burned in captions, make sure that the automatic captions are switched off, otherwise they will display over the top and it will be impossible to read.
Creating your own captions
Pros – Facebook, Twitter and YouTube all allow you to upload your own captions directly to the platform, which ensures that they will be more accurate. This is hands down a more reliable way of making your content accessible, but it can be more time-consuming and may not be an option if you have limited resources.
RNID have created a quick social media guide that explains how to upload captions directly to social media platforms to help get you started.
Cons – Not all platforms will allow you to add your own captions – this option is not available on LinkedIn or on Instagram feeds, although you can add captions to Instagram stories.
A note on burned in captions
If you have the resources you may prefer to burn your own captions onto your video files. This means they will be on display for everyone who watches your video and they won’t be able to be turned on or off. It means they will be shown on any platform you upload your video to, and it gives you greater flexibility on style to match your brand. This is the option we use at RNID using Adobe Premiere but there’s lots of other free and paid for software available.
Pros – As a user, several platforms have built-in features which help make the viewing process more accessible. Both Facebook and YouTube allow users to change the size and colour of text, and alter the colour and transparency of the captions’ background. This is particularly useful for people with sight loss.
Making sure you and your team know how to use these is a great way to further your understanding of the user experience.
Maybe you already caption your content, in which case well done! Or perhaps it’s something you feel you just don’t have the time or the budget to do.
Captioning content on social media doesn’t need to be hard work. Most social media sites provide automatic captions, but many organisations aren’t aware of them, or don’t use them.
One in five adults have hearing loss, so whatever your charity’s aims, deaf people and people with hearing loss will make up a reasonable chunk of your audience. Added to that, the current trend for hearing people to consume video using captions too, captioning your social media content makes good business sense.
We hope you find our social media guide helpful. If you’d like to learn more about being deaf aware and supporting people who are deaf or have hearing loss in the workplace visit our website for some top tips.
- Accessible Communication resource
- Accessible communications doesn’t have to be complicated
- Top tips for accessible communications
- Making your social media accessible
This article is part of the CharityComms resource ‘Accessible communications: A starting point for fostering more inclusive comms’.
We will be exploring video content creation at our next Social Media Network.
Banner Image: Matheus Bertelli on Pexels