In Technology/Innovation, Translation/Localization

When it comes to content marketing online, video is king. The 2018 Internet Trends Report tells us that mobile video viewing is up worldwide around 600% between 2012 and 2017.[1] On social media, video content gets the highest engagement – on average, twice the level of other post types.[2]

Video Engagement for Diverse Audiences

People around the world watch billions of online videos every day. Content marketers can capitalize on this trend … but only when their video content can be heard and understood by everyone in their target audience. This, of course, starts with quality content, properly localized to resonate across the cultures represented in your target audience. Since it’s pretty rare that either (1) every person in your target audience speaks the same language -or- (2) you have the time and resources to record a separate video in each language spoken within your target audience, you need alternative ways to ensure your video is inclusive. Enter video subtitles, closed captions, and video voice-over.

The first step to helping your diverse target audience members engage with your video content is understanding your video translation options. In this two-part Blog series, we’ll first explore those options. In part two, we’ll provide tips and best practices to help you choose the right options for maximum audience engagement.

Subtitles vs. Captions

Subtitles and closed captions are very similar, but not the same. Subtitles insert the text of the dialogue in a video on the screen, usually along the bottom. Closed captioning is subtitling + auditory clues (like music and sound effects). Here’s a simple example:

Actor is saying: “I had the time of my life!”           Singer is singing, “I had the time of my life.”


Subtitles are most frequently used to give viewers the option to engage with a video without turning on the sound or to offer the dialogue in another language. Captions are primarily used to allow the deaf and hard-of-hearing community to interact with a video.

Same Language Subtitles or Captions

Estimates suggest that something like 85% of videos on Facebook are watched without sound. Whether that is to avoid your boss or coworkers hearing you goof off at work or just because the standard setting in Facebook is to start videos on silent, the fact is that many viewers will skip right past a video without subtitles or captions. Adding subtitles or captions in the same language as the dialogue, then, not only allows the deaf and hard of hearing community to understand your video, it also draws in the 85% of viewers who prefer to read their videos (is this part of the text message over phone call trend, perhaps?).

Foreign Language Subtitles

Subtitles in another language are a common way to share your video content with a diverse audience. Spanish is a popular option in the United States, but subtitles in any language can be added based on the demographics of your audience.

Video Voice-Over

Voice-over, also called audio “dubbing,” replaces the original dialogue soundtrack of a video and replaces it with one in a different language. Kung Fu movies are pretty famous for this in the United States.

Done right, voice over provides audiences from a different culture the opportunity to hear the video in their own language, including the non-verbal cues like tone of voice, and to focus on the action going on in the video … rather than splitting their attention between the action and the text scrolling at the bottom of the screen.

Video Content About this Blog

Of course, it just wouldn’t be right to write a blog about video content and not have some video content to accompany it. Check out our video on the difference between subtitles and closed captions here. Be sure you enable the captions by clicking on the closed caption symbol in the lower right.

Coming Attractions

Intrigued about video translation options to increase engagement on your video content? Coming soon to a screen near you…

Video Content is King, Part 2: Video Translation Tips and Tools




[1] Internet Trends 2018 Kleiner Perkins,

[2] See


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