The Easiest Trick to Keep Viewers Longer (Spoiler- it’s Subtitles)

There’s two kinds of people in this world. Those who use subtitles 100% of the time, and then there’s everyone else. Love them or hate them, they can be useful when it’s hard to hear the sound on the TV. But now subtitles aren’t just used on TV. They are being used for social media, YouTube videos, and really anything that has important audio for people to consume. 

Now personally, I have never liked traditional subtitles (also known as captions). When I’m watching a movie or a show, I want to fully immerse myself in the visuals and the story. The same thing applied to YouTube videos that I watch, and most social media videos too. 

(insert subtitle: VREW, VREW, VREW)

My “Ah-ha” Subtitle Moment

One day I was doing some laundry in my apartment while I was (re)watching Star Wars, Episode I, The Phantom Menace. For those that don’t know or care much about Star Wars, basically this film provides a TON of context as to how the whole franchise unfolds throughout 8 other films, spin off films, TV shows, and so on. Episode I’s dialogue was heavy, and gives a lot of subtle insight for subsequent storylines. I’ve watched this film so many times as a kid, and even as an adult. It was the first Star Wars film I ever saw!

But anyway, midway through watching the film, I had to put my wet clothes from the washer into the dryer. As soon as I turned the dryer on, it was impossible to hear anything short of space explosions and lightsaber battles! So I turned on the subtitles (captions) and continued watching the film. Very quickly I started realizing that there were parts of the film that I never understood until then. 

That’s when it finally clicked. Captions may take away from the visuals of a video, but they do not take away from the story. They help explain it more!

Some would argue that cinema isn’t meant to have captions to distract you from the reality that it has created. While I agree with that, I have a different view on captions for social media, YouTube, and other styles of online video. 

Enjoying a good film is like fine wine. It of course gets better with age, and it gets better the more you watch it. So watching without captions is totally doable. 

But social media videos? Forget it.

Social media videos aren’t meant to be viewed like films, nor should they be. People aren’t going to watch a social media video over and over again to understand it. If a video piques their curiosity, then they will watch (some of) it once, and move on to the next video. 

If you want people to get the absolute most out of your videos, then they need to be subtitled.

How to Get Your Videos Subtitled?

Well besides trying to manually add in text to videos using Instagram or Snapchat, adding subtitles may seem difficult, but it’s actually pretty easy once you find your ideal workflow. 

Here is an example of an in-depth conversation about 5G Municipal Wi-Fi with added subtitles.

A few popular caption options come from companies and services like Descript, Rev, and Adobe Premiere Pro. The first option, Descript, is a subscription based video editing service that adds computer generated captions onto your video. This is a great basic option if you want to stitch a couple video angles together, then add captions onto the whole video. If you just need captions put on a finished video, then Rev would be your best bet, as it is a “pay per minute” service, so you just gauge the cost right from the start. And if you have a dedicated content creator that edits professionally on Adobe Premiere Pro, then they can add computer generated captions to the videos that they produce for you. That is the most premium option, but offers the most premium results.

All of those services have different costs depending on your needs. But regardless of what price you pay, it is beyond worth it to ensure that your customers and viewers fully understand your message.

My Personal Findings

I know that when I started offering caption services to my clients, they immediately said yes, and found that viewers watched their videos for longer! If that’s not enough incentive to add captions/subtitles, then I don’t know what is. 

But ultimately the question comes down to you- do you prefer watching videos with captions? If the answer is yes for you, then chances are it’s a yes for your customers too.

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