Using Text Overlays on Your Social Videos

 In Podcasts

We talk a lot about the importance of creating a high volume of high quality content on this blog.  And no matter what, generating good rich media that ties into your brand’s key messages, and doing it at a consistent clip is vital.  But there’s more to getting your content seen, and engaged with, than simply creating it and posting it.  And right now, one of the best ways to increase time spent on your videos is by using text overlays.

We’ve noticed a few separate trends coming to a head that led us to the topic of our most recent podcast.  First, marketers are dealing with the fact that it’s harder than ever to reach their audience on Facebook organically.  Second, video content is being consumed in a dramatically different way on social than it has in the past.

That’s why the topic of our latest podcast is text overlays in social videos.  In the spirit of giving people content in a way that they actually want to consume it, the full transcript of this podcast is below the video.  We’d love to hear your strategies for keeping people engaged with your videos on social media!

Full Transcript:

PHIL:

What is going on everybody, I am Phil, that is Tyler.  Welcome to another edition of the 5 tool productions video podcast.  Today, we are talking about a topic that we’ve been thinking about a lot recently, and that is actually subtitles, and captions, and text overlays in video, and it’s something you’ve been hammering a lot recently, and probably for about the last year or so it’s grown, and I think it’s really coming to a head.

TYLER:

Well it kind of starts with, go on Facebook, right now.  If you’re watching this, go on Facebook, and just scroll through the feed.  I don’t know about you, but I watch a ton of videos on facebook, like a lot.

PHIL:

For research!

TYLER:

Yeah, for research!  Yeah, that duck chasing around that pitbull was research!

But seriously, I watch a ton of videos, and 9 out of 10 times, I watch it and it’s just playing in the background.   I don’t actually click it, turn the audio on or anything like that, I mean it’s just kind of the natural thing that’s going on.   I remember when I used to take the train into work, kind of the same thing.  I didn’t want to turn, if I didn’t have my headphones on, I’m not turning on the audio in the middle of the train, so I just kind of watch it.

So, what we’re seeing is more and more people are watching it – and we’ll talk about stats in a second – more and more people are watching the videos without actually hearing it.   So if you’re doing a video like this, you should have some sort of text over it.  Whether it’s your subtitles, whether it’s just a regular text overlay, but giving people that option so it might make them stick around a little bit longer.

PHIL:

Yeah, and I think a lot of this ties into, we talk a lot about shoot once and use often, that kind of thing, and I think this ties into knowing where your content is gonna live.  And if your content is gonna live on Facebook, it has to be ready for Facebook.  And if you’re gonna post longer form content without text overlays, that’s ok, but you gotta look at your stats and see, are people actually consuming this the way we want, and if they’re not then you need to pivot and give them what they’re actually going to get some value out of.

So that might mean for a longer form video like this, it can live on your website as an embedded video, it can live on YouTube for your subscribers, but the cut that goes to Facebook is maybe a shorter version, a snippet of this, one of your best soundbites that has text overlaid, so that when people go through their feed they see it, and if they’re interested in the topic they’ll click through to your site and watch the whole video ideally with sound.  But if they don’t, at least they’re getting your key point out of it, and they’re associating it with you and they’re actually seeing what you want them to see.

TYLER:

Exactly, and I think companies like BuzzFeed, Delish, the Dodo, these are the ones that are kind of leading the charge with it.

PHIL:

Huffintgton post, attn., they all do it, yeah.

TYLER:

You know, they have, even like Delish is a great example, when they’re cooking something, instead of saying, having a person on camera saying, add a tablespoon of salt, cut – it’s just “Tablespoon of salt!” and it slides up quickly, it’s just kind of explaining it in a slightly different way.

Having said that, going to the stat piece.  So I’ve looked at kind of three different companies’ videos, and went through about, all in, between thirty, forty different videos, I don’t remember the exact number I looked at.  Different lengths and different things like that.  But we’re talking right around 88% of the time was the average that people watched the video with the sound off.  I mean think about that;  88% of the time – and this is just on Facebook mind you – watched it with the sound off.  Like, let that part sink in.  The things that changed it, why people turned the sound on, was live.

PHIL:

Yeah, I was gonna make that point next.

TYLER:
Yeah, because that’s one of the things that’s interesting about it.  You say, “yeah we’re doing this, we know what to expect,” and these are videos that have talking heads in them, mind you too.  I mean they’re full-fledged just someone standing there talking away.  So when you add the text on the bottom though, people are then more likely to stay on and watch it.  That’s the other thing that’s interesting, and I can’t say specifically right now, but when you have – 88% of the time people aren’t watching [with sound], but a good about a third of those videos had captions on the bottom of them.  So people were still staying on and watching – it’s not like that was one of those 3 second views that counted as a view.  No, people were actually watching it for 45 seconds, because this video happened to be a minute fifteen, which, people hanging on for that amount of time, that percentage of time is great, you want that.  But because they were basically just reading the entire thing.

And the other thing that I’ve seen., and I don’t know if you’ve seen it yet right now, but there are brands that are actually putting up images as videos, and they’re just rolling it.  Nope, I’m uploading this and they’re putting it on – from a video production standpoint, you’re dropping it on the timeline, you’re expanding it for 45 seconds, then you’re exporting it as video.  People are actually uploading images as videos, just so they can trick the algorithm on Facebook.  That’s another thing that we can totally get into, just totally screwing with – you’re only gonna hurt us in the long run by doing that, because Facebook is gonna catch on and be like “What the heck are you doing, sorry, there’s nothing on there.”  But those are some of the stats I saw, which it just kinda blows your mind.   Like I said, we’ll say it one more time:  88% of the time, people are watching the videos with the sound off.  Let that sink in, let that marinate, because that’s a crazy amount of people.

PHIL:
And you’re not the only noticing it, because we mentioned some of the – they’re like forward social brands, we mentioned Huffington post –

TYLER:

Well, they’ve made their money on social, so they’re the ones leading the charge.

PHIL:
You expect it from them a little bit, but you look at like CNN, and all these other news organizations, and they’re doing way more of this now too.  And if you go through Facebook, you’ll see a lot more of these types of videos.  From a consumer perspective I actually kind of appreciate it.  It’s kind of a better way to consume – it’s kind of the next step.  It’s a good way to consume quick hit stuff online.  Very often I don’t have any desire to watch a video full with sound, if I’m sitting between tasks when I’m sitting at my desk between tasks.

TYLER:

Yeah, you’re eating lunch at work.

PHIL:

I don’t wanna necessarily get into a full video there, but if you’re gonna deliver it to me that way, and it’s easy, and there’s nice visuals, and it’s quick, that’s a good way for me to consume it, so from a consumer standpoint I think people are saying loud and clear that they like this format and the big brands are noticing too.  It’s not just the forward thinking social brands.

TYLER:

And you mentioned news organizations, so like, we’re based here in Boston, the Boston area.  I’ve seen Channel 5 do it, Boston 25, they’re not Fox, but Boston 25.  They’re still Fox.  But Boston 25, we’ve seen a lot of the local news organizations do it on Facebook as well.   But they’re not going to change their traditional news style to be all that.  And that kind of goes into the whole mindset of, that might work on Facebook, and that might work on Instagram, but remember that your audience on YouTube, or if you’re doing traditional media, they’re consuming it in a different way.

So think about it kind of all ties back into the end conversation of, think about who your end consumer is on that platform.  Which, for a video editor, that means I have to create 4 different version of this.  I have to create a version for YouTube, a version for Facebook, a version for Instagram, a version for Instagram stories, and so on and so forth.  Because people are consuming it in different ways there.   That’s the other thing to keep in mind too, it’s not one size fits all – you’re gonna have something different on each channel

PHIL:

And it’s been that way a little bit for the last couple of years, but it was more about just like the dimensions, like Instagram used to be strictly a square, and now all of these platforms – like twitter has a native upload, and if you want people to watch videos you have to upload directly to twitter.  Facebook has a native upload to use Facebooks video player.

And if you want to test this out yourself, try uploading a video directly to Facebook, and then try on your page posting a link to a YouTube video, and let me know which one performs better.  I guarantee you the Facebook native on is going to perform better, because that’s all part of the algorithm that we mentioned.  The point is now they all have their own native players – Instagram, Facebook, Twitter –

TYLER:

LinkedIn now as well, which we can get into that discussion too, because I’ve noticed some interesting things about if you post a YouTube video on LinkedIn, do they actually hurt you a little bit more and it’s not getting seen as much because they want you to upload it natively.

PHIL:
And they all do, but you know, there’s more that goes into it than just the dimensions, like you said.  You also have to consider, if someone lands on your website, if someone makes their way all the way to your website, they’re probably a little more willing to put in the time to actually watch a video with sound, maybe watch a longer video.

They’re there, they’re bought in now, they’re not just scrolling through a news feed.  They’ve at least taken the action, an additional step beyond you’re mixed in with everything else.  They’re on your property now, and there’s at least a little more likelihood that they’re gonna actually watch a video, so a place for these long form videos that don’t have text overlays throughout, it exists, it’s just a matter of thinking about the right property for it.

TYLER:
And kind of the last thing we can mention is the whole mindset of transcribing your videos for closed captioning.  So obviously YouTube is owned by Google.  So the transcription they have the opportunity to upload the transcription to YouTube.  Well if it’s there, they’re going to utilize it some way somehow.  So if you do have the transcription, or take a couple seconds to get the transcription.

PHIL:

There’s other uses for the transcriptions as well, from an accessibility standpoint, you want to make sure that as many people as possible can enjoy your videos, so even if the text overlay’s not there, captions are really important from that standpoint first and foremost.  You mentioned from a search perspective.  You’ve also mentioned that having the transcript is just another way to create an additional piece of content, where you can take quotes form that and use them as elements of a blog post later

TYLER:

Or your social graphics or things like that.

PHIL:
Exactly – text overlays over photos later, if you have particularly good quotes that are not going to be written down unless you transcribe it, so there’s a lot of value to the transcription for sure.

TYLER:

Awesome, couldn’t agree more.

PHIL:
So this has been a video about text overlays, hopefully they’ll be a text overlay right here.

TYLER:
We have a text overlay right here.

PHIL:

I’m Phil, that’s Tyler, thank you guys for hanging out with us, we’ll see you next time.

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