Words and Pictures – Social Media Subtitles are in!

It’s one of the golden rules of filmmaking – Don’t say it, if you can show it. After all, film is a visual medium.

But once again social media has uncovered another facet, which proves that online media is an informational and entertainment animal unlike any other.

For most people video captions or subtitles bring to mind foreign language films or subtitles for the hearing impaired. But now video content in social media timelines is muted, captions are becoming increasingly important for attracting attention to you video content.

After a panel discussion, I was talking with a colleague from the BBC, a video journalist, Tracey Miller. Being an independent producer myself it was enlightening to find out how the ‘other half’ lives nowadays. The last time I graced the halls of the BBC, I was a talking door knocker on Noel’s House Party and a video camera weighed about as much as a Ford Fiesta (and cost twice as much).

BBC Aston Captions

Tracey talked about the importance of video captions on the BBC news website because “So many people watch the content on a train or bus…So they can’t hear the audio.”

To ensure the ‘viewer’ gets the message, one of her main chores is spending a lot of time creating captions (slang term “In the Aston”).


So, in 2018, when people consume more video than ever before – 500 Million people now watch Facebook Video daily – words are once again vogue.

But what does this have to do with you and me? Well, here are a few things you may want to consider when making a video that will ultimately end up in a timeline or feed (Facebook, LinkedIn etc):

  1. You need to include captions (subtitles), so the viewer can ‘hear’ the video as they scroll – even if they don’t click on a video piece. That way people can still enjoy your content on the bus, in public etc.
  2. You should reduce long title sequences or video intros and get into the’meat’ of your video quickly.
  3. Make sure your titles are interesting and use eye-catching imagery. That way people are more likely to click and watch.
  4. You need to consider your script carefully. If your subtitles/captions are going to catch the eye of the ‘scroller’ then some words will be more effective than others.
  5. Be careful where you place your captions as they will cover names, labels and lower third titles.
  6. As always, keep your message focused and tight, no-one wants to watch (or read) long rambling videos.

YouTube already allows you to add simple subtitles to your videos. Vimeo has a subscription-based service and Facebook allows you to create and add subtitles via an SRT file. So if you’re on a tight budget you do have options. But if you need more control over your image and need a more professional or corporate look OR you need to incorporate different languages then Pocket Pictures is happy to help.

Happy video making and good luck.

Written for Pocket Pictures by Mark Alexander Todd.

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One thought on “Words and Pictures – Social Media Subtitles are in!

  • July 12, 2018 at 10:54 am

    Hey there! Would you mind if I share your blog with my facebook group? There’s a lot of people that I think would really enjoy your content. Please let me know. Cheers


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