“Many marketers think of captions simply as a nice-to-have . . . That’s a mistake.” – Google
Why are video captions important?
Before we jump into the “how” of video captions, let’s first explain why they are important. Video captions are important for car dealerships for 3 primary reasons:
They make your video more accessible to more audiences
They provide more SEO value to your videos
They make your videos more user friendly
Making the web and content across the web more accessible is a huge theme across all industries, and car dealers are no exception. Google provides some examples of why accessible videos are important in stating, “Accurate and expressive captions help everyone — whether they be deaf or hard of hearing, in a quiet space without their earbuds, or watching a video in their second language — experience what you created in the way you intended.”
In terms of SEO value, captions help search engines index and “understand” your videos. It’s important to keep this in mind when writing your script and planning the composition of your video. Including keywords in captions helps search engines understand the context of your video better, so they can show your videos in relevant searches.
Keep in mind, captions don’t just apply to spoken words in your video. For example, many dealers use walkaround video services that compile videos with little to no spoken audio. Even if your video only has music and visuals, you can still create descriptive captions to explain what’s going on in the video and to describe the tone of the music.
Finally, how does adding captions make your videos more user friendly? You have to consider that people may come across your video in situations where audio is not an option. Perhaps someone’s in a public place and doesn’t want their volume on, or maybe they are scrolling through their social media feed and stop to watch your video with their volume off. You still want viewers to be able to engage with your video in those situations, so make it as easy as possible.
80% of consumers are more likely to watch an entire video when captions are available. – Forbes
How to add captions to videos
If you’re avoiding using captions with your videos because you don’t want to deal with the time to create them or the cost to outsource captioning, there is an easier, free solution—yes, FREE.
Upload and publish your video to your YouTube channel
Wait for automatic captions to generate
Duplicate and clean up the automatic captions
Publish to save
It’s that easy!
This is the easiest and most time efficient process to add captions to YouTube videos. Additionally, if you plan to upload your video to another channel, like Facebook, you can download the captions from YouTube. Simply pick the file format needed and upload them along with the video file on the other channels.
If you already know about YouTube’s automatic captioning feature, and are thinking, “if YouTube makes the captions for me, why do I need to do anything?” Then heed Google’s words of caution on relying on automatic YouTube captioning, “These automatic captions are generated by machine learning algorithms, so the quality of the captions may vary.”
They recommend using professionally created captions first, however, it’s not absolutely necessary to go this route, especially for short videos. You can often modify the automatically generated captions quickly, and add in descriptive elements as needed.
Watch this video for a step-by-step process (hint: turn on the closed captions by clicking the “CC” button when you are hovering over the video to see the player functions if you need or want to watch without sound 😉 ).
Video Caption Best Practices
If you’ve never created video captions before, you may also be interested in best practices for doing so. Google published an article recently with some great tips on how to approach video captions.
A summary of some of the key tips from Google’s article that are relevant to car dealers are below:
“Identify speakers whenever it’s unclear.” For example, if your video is voice over (VO) set to clips that don’t show the speaker on screen, it’s good to identify the speaker when they start talking. You’ve likely seen these descriptive cues in captions before. They usually look something like this: [voice of a male dealership salesperson]
“Describe the music.” This isn’t absolutely necessary, but doing so improves the quality of your captions and provides a better experience for all viewers.
“Aim for brevity.” For example, with all the descriptive captions and speaker captions, they recommend you still keep it to 3 lines or less. If you go over three, scale back by picking the most important elements to understand the context and tone of the video.
“Consider the platform.” The process previously explained teaches you how to add closed captions to videos, but what about platforms that don’t accommodate closed captions? Google provides Instagram as an example. At this time, Instagram does not have a closed caption feature, so instead you’d need to use open captions on those videos if you want captions to appear.
Open captions are captions that are part of the video, not a separate file where they are overlaid on top of the video. To tell the difference, if you can turn the captions off, they are closed captions.
“Balance the amount of information you’re conveying with the ability of your audience to read captions and comprehend visuals at the same time.” This will help you make decisions before producing your video.
For example, let’s say you decide you need walkarounds on your entire inventory and have hundreds of cars on your lot. You can quickly see that movie-quality production value is not essential or even practical in this case. Simple VO captions with a descriptive caption of the speaker at the beginning if they aren’t on screen will likely suffice.
On the other hand, if you are posting a commercial or an “about us” type video with lots of cuts to different clips, voice over changes, and music changes to tell a story, you’ll need to plan more time to work on those captions.
This type of video would require a lot more descriptive captions rather than simply using VO captions to get the message across. In that case, you’ll also need to be more choosy about what captions make the final cut so the viewer can both watch the video and read the captions simultaneously.
One final tip from Dealer Teamwork. At the end of the day, it’s better to have simple, accurate captions rather than none at all. So don’t turn away from captions because you don’t want to take the time to add all the descriptive details.
If this is new to you, work your way up to a more professional level of video captions. However, this is not an excuse to rely solely on the auto-generated captions.
At the bare minimum, use the automatic captioning functionality of YouTube to generate the captions, and then clean up any errors like incorrect words, lack of punctuation, lack of capitalization, etc.