Easily Add Captions to Your Facebook Videos

Everyone is going crazy for video right now. But don’t forget this one simple fact: Facebook videos autoplay with the sound turned off. This means that someone has to tap the video to hear the sound. So what if they’re browsing on the bus, or while watching TV, or at the library, or while they’re not supposed to be on Facebook? Chances are slim to none they’re going to turn the sound on. What if they are hard of hearing? You’ve now lost all of these viewers because there isn’t anything engaging about a silent talking head.

So what can you do to engage these viewers? Closed captions are the simple answer! Facebook has stated that captions increase the average video view time by 12%. But before you despair that you’re now going to have to spend hours transcribing your videos or pay to have someone do it for you, I’ve got 2 simple (and free!) methods that will help you to increase the engagement on your videos without adding hours to your week.

Everyone is going crazy for video right now. But don’t forget this one simple fact: Facebook videos autoplay with the sound turned off. This means that someone has to tap the video to hear the sound. So what if they’re browsing on the bus, or while watching TV, or at the library, or while they’re not supposed to be on Facebook? Chances are slim to none they’re going to turn the sound on. What if they are hard of hearing? You’ve now lost all of these viewers because there isn’t anything engaging about a silent talking head.
Want to get more engagement on your videos? Make them more accessible by adding captions - this tutorial will show you how to automatically generate your captions for #Facebook and #YouTube.

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When Automated Captions May Not Work

 

Sound/Language Issues

Keep in mind that automated captioning will be less effective for videos with lower quality sound or too much background noise interference, and may not work at all depending on what language the video was recorded in. US English, of course, will work with both methods, but for non-English speakers or those with strong regional accents you’ll likely have to stick with method #2 as YouTube captioning supports multiple languages.

 

Where Your Video is Posted

Captioning on Facebook (method #1) is currently only available for videos that are posted to pages. If your video is living inside a group or on your personal profile, you will have to use method #2 to generate your caption file and then upload them to the video.

 

Your Wording

If you are using a lot of jargon or specific lingo that’s not in everyday use, your captions will still generate, but they will be wildly inaccurate - just be aware that you’ll likely have to spend extra time correcting the captions so that you don’t leave your caption viewers confused.

 

Method #1: Generate Captions on your Facebook page

Once your video is uploaded or your live video is complete, you can have Facebook auto-generate captions for you. Note that if your video is longer than 30 minutes, Facebook won’t be able to generate your captions right away - keep checking back.

There are several ways to get to the video edit screen:

A. From the video post:

  • Click the drop down in the corner of the post

  • Select Edit Post

B. From the video section of your page:

  • Click the video you want

  • Click the 3 dots in the corner of the post for additional options

  • Select Edit Video

C. From Publishing Tools:

  • Click Publishing Tools

  • Click the edit icon beside the video you want

You’ll find yourself on a screen that looks like the first one:

Generate your captions here!

Generate your captions here!

If your ‘edit video’ screen looks like this, skip to Method #2!

If your ‘edit video’ screen looks like this, skip to Method #2!

Once you’re there . . .

  • Click the Subtitles & Captions (CC) option.

  • Click the Auto-Generate button. Your captions will start being created.

    • If the Generate button is greyed out, select your language.

    • If you need to review and/or edit the captions, click the edit (pencil) icon. A new screen will open - at minimum I’d recommend browsing for any names (proper names, place names, names of products or services or programs, etc.). Once you’ve made your changes, click Save Draft.

  • When you’re done, click Save.

If you notice any mistakes in the captions that you want to fix, simply follow these instructions again to edit.

If the Auto-Generate button is missing or your edit screen looks different, you’ll need to check out method #2.

Tip: If you cannot save your video after generating the captions, it’s because you haven’t entered a title for your video.

 

Everyone is going crazy for video right now. But don’t forget this one simple fact: Facebook videos autoplay with the sound turned off. This means that someone has to tap the video to hear the sound. So what if they’re browsing on the bus, or while watching TV, or at the library, or while they’re not supposed to be on Facebook? Chances are slim to none they’re going to turn the sound on. What if they are hard of hearing? You’ve now lost all of these viewers because there isn’t anything engaging about a silent talking head.

Method #2: Generate Caption File on YouTube

This is a 4-step process: download your video from Facebook, upload your video to YouTube, wait for YouTube to generate your captions, then upload the caption file to Facebook.

You would need to use this method if:

  • The Auto-Generate button is missing from your caption options in Facebook

  • You want to add captions to videos that have been originally posted inside a Facebook Group (which doesn’t have Auto-Generate features)

If your video was recorded live on Facebook or you no longer have it on your computer, you’ll need to complete this first step. If you already have a copy of the video on your computer, you can skip to step 2.

 

Step 1: Download Your Video From Facebook

  • Find the video post

    • On a page, any of the steps A,B,C from Method #1 above will work

    • In a group, only B above will work

  • Click the 3 dots in the top right corner of the post

  • Click Download Video

Step 2: Upload Your Video to YouTube

This article assumes that you’ve already got a YouTube account set up. If you don’t, I’d recommend this tutorial from Jessica Stansberry.

  • Make sure that automatic captioning is turned on by default for your account. Find those instructions here.

  • From the YouTube home screen, click the upload icon in the top right corner (it’s the video camera with the + in it)

  • Select ‘Upload Video’

  • Adjust your privacy settings (if you are only uploading to generate captions for a private group or paid membership I’d recommend using private)

  • Select your file to upload

  • Once your video is finished uploading (wait time will depend on the length/quality of the video and your internet speed), click Done to confirm

Step 3: Generate Captions on YouTube

YouTube has recently updated it’s Video Manager section, but you can still access the original section. I’ve included instructions for both below.

Note: I and many people have experienced delays with automatic captioning (weeks in some cases) since YouTube introduced the new Studio but at the time of this update - March 2019 - the issue seems to have resolved for me.

The new YouTube Studio:

  • Click your profile photo in the top corner and select ‘YouTube Studio’

  • On the left menu, select Videos

  • Click the title of your video

  • Click ‘Advanced’

  • Scroll down until you see ‘Subtitles and CC for original video language’

    • Even though it’s not obvious, your captions are generating right now - again, wait time will depend on the length of the video and audio quality

  • Keep refreshing this page until you see something like ‘English by YouTube (automatic)

    • If captions have not generated after the equivalent length of your video has passed (i.e. a 10 minute video will take approx 10 minutes for the captions to generate), there may be another issue with your video - review these troubleshooting tips

Creator Studio (Classic):

  • Click your profile photo in the top corner and select ‘Video Manager’

  • Click the dropdown beside your video and select Subtitles/CC

    • Even though it’s not obvious, your captions are generating right now - again, wait time will depend on the length of the video and audio quality

  • Keep refreshing this page until you see a new section called Published with a button listing the caption language

    • If captions have not generated after the equivalent length of your video has passed (i.e. a 10 minute video will take approx 10 minutes for the captions to generate), there may be another issue with your video - review these troubleshooting tips

Step 3a: Edit Your Captions

If you are talking about people, businesses, websites, the names of your services or products I’d highly recommend checking your captions for accuracy/spelling!

The new YouTube Studio:

  • Following on directly from step 3…click the 3 dots beside your automatic captions

  • Select Edit (will take you to classic studio - instructions continued below)

Creator Studio (Classic):

  • Following on directly from step 3…click the caption button

  • Click Edit

  • Review and edit the captions

  • Click Save Changes

Step 3B: Download your captions from youtube

The new YouTube Studio:

  • The new Studio currently only allows you to download caption files in .sbv format - this won’t work with Facebook, so for now please use the Classic method to download your caption file.

Creator Studio (Classic):

  • Following on directly from step 3…click the caption button

  • Click the Actions dropdown

  • Select .srt under the Download section - the caption file will download to your computer

  • Find the file and rename it with the following format: filename.en_US.srt

Step 4: Upload Caption File to Facebook Video

This step can differ depending where on Facebook your video is.

On your Facebook Page:

  • Follow the steps in method #1 to get to the Edit Video screen

  • Click the Captions option

  • Click Upload SRT File

  • Select the file from your computer

  • Click Save

In a Facebook Group or on your personal profile:

  • Find the video post

    • On a page, any of the steps A,B,C from Method #1 above will work

    • In a group, only B above will work

  • Click the 3 dots in the top right corner of the post

  • Click Edit Video

  • Under the Captions section, click Choose File

  • Select the file from your computer (make sure it is named correctly)

  • Click Save

Note: if you upload a caption file, you cannot edit the captions in Facebook. You would have to edit them on YouTube and then re-upload them to the video on Facebook.

Which Method is Best?

For me, it depends on the situation.

If I have pre-recorded a video that I am going to be uploading to Facebook, I will generate the captions in YouTube ahead of time. I find that the caption generation in YouTube is more accurate, and even when it’s not sure of a word it will spell it out phonetically instead of substituting it with the closest sounding word, which is what Facebook will do. Even if the spelling is occasionally odd, it still allows viewers to get a more accurate idea of what I’m saying. Yes, method #2 takes longer, but it’s mostly waiting for things to upload and generate so I will complete other business tasks during those times.

If I have a Facebook Live video, it’s out there in the world as soon as I end the broadcast. I want to get the captions up as fast as possible while the video is likely to get the most engagement, so I’ll use the Facebook-generated captions if possible.

Facebook says that videos with captions are watched 12% longer than those without. Here’s how to easily generate captions for your videos.

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