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Top Tips to Write Good Video Captions for Social Media

This blog aims to highlight the importance of good video captions, how to invoke emotion, explain the unseen, and how it can aid in providing impactful meaning to videos and drive action/conversion.


Why are good captions so important?


Of all the ads you’ve seen today, how many did you interact with? Which brands did the best job of marketing to your wants and needs? What did they do to catch your intention?

Marketing experts believe that the average American is exposed to over 5,000 ads every day. When we’re bombarded with that much noise each day, it’s only natural for us to start tuning out. Unless a consumer has a personal interest in a brand, this level of market saturation can cause people to start ignoring advertising messages.

In order to catch the eye and hold the audience’s attention, visuals are so important, but your video caption needs to be even better. We often associate the art of storytelling with long-form copywriting, but even a short message can pay dividends on social media. A great caption will add context, entertain, and show off your brand’s personality, ultimately driving engagement.

If you’re hoping to stand out from the herd, don’t be discouraged. We’ve put together a list of our top tips to help you write better video captions for social media.


Know your brand's voice


The demographics of social media are so broad. Facebook alone plays host to over 25% of the world’s population. Knowing that Facebook reaches the largest number of users aged 13-17 or that in the U.S., more women use Facebook than men, is helpful, but too vague. To tailor your marketing strategy for social media, you need to know your audience. Once you know who you’re speaking to, you can adapt your captions to drive engagement.

It may seem obvious, but it’s very important to use appropriate language for your target audience. Consider the purpose of your captions and which style the reader will find more enticing.

If you want to use a persuasive writing style to inspire action, consider using an active voice. The use of slang in video captions will undoubtedly stand out and help viewers relate to a brand. Just tread lightly. Only use slang if it’s relevant to your brand’s personality.

As part of a broader social media marketing strategy, you should have already identified your brand’s voice.

If not, take a little time to jot down several adjectives that best describe your business and use those to find the right tone. Your brand voice should mirror your brand personality and, more importantly, remain consistent. In general, companies benefit from using a lighter, more informal tone in their captions, as this makes posts more personable.


Write a killer hook


The goal of the first line should be to make the reader want to read the second. The second line should then propel the reader to the third, and so on. If your copy doesn’t instill a sense of urgency in the reader, remove it from your video caption.

Making the first line of your video caption as engaging and enticing as possible is a fantastic way to boost the number of people who view your post.

We’ve already established that you’re competing for user attention with potentially thousands of other brands every day. You need to catch the users’ interest quickly before they scroll past to look at something more interesting.

Social media platforms are optimized for a mobile viewing experience, and many operate with an autoplay function for video. While this should give your video content a head start, not everyone uses the autoplay feature. Make sure to place the important, most interesting information first. If you’re unsure how to lure your audience in, try using facts and stats, a fascinating statement, or even share an exclusive offer.


Keep it short & simple


More often than not, it’s the shorter, simpler captions that will generate the most engagement. Lots of text covering the visuals is a big no-no. Facebook’s research has found that an image with less than 20% text performs better. Good video captions should complement the video and inform us about the things we cannot see. People want to watch a video clip, not read it.

While keeping your captions concise, don’t forget the importance of connecting with your audience through storytelling. For optimal performance, video ads should consist of 3-4 scenes, which doesn’t provide you with much room to write a New York Times bestseller. The relationship between text and video should be mutually beneficial. Put as much effort into the text as you did the video, and the caption will bring your content to life.

To avoid alienating your target audience, simplicity is the key. Some of America’s favorite authors, Jane Austen, Harper Lee, George R.R. Martin, Ernest Hemingway, and many more, are at the 8th-grade reading level or below.

Keep sentences short, communicate your thoughts in a simple manner, use words with fewer syllables, and your captions will be fine.


Add a call-to-action


These tips have been designed to help your posts stand out and increase your reach, but if you truly want your audience to take action, then you must tell them so.

Want to drive engagement? Ask for it.

Merely using a call-to-action in video captions can go a long way in driving engagement. A call-to-action directs the audience on what they should do once they have finished viewing a video. If you want to increase engagement, then start by asking viewers to ‘Like,’ ‘Share,’ and ‘Comment.’

A well-placed call-to-action can do more than just increase engagement on social media. You can also divert traffic to your website, inspire viewers to sign up to a newsletter, or even purchase a product. It can be a bit tricky to direct traffic away from social media, so make sure to make a compelling argument.

For more tips on making call-to-actions that stand out, check out our video marketing guide.


Summary


Striking the right tone can be a challenge initially, but it’s important not to let your captions become an afterthought. Don’t rush the process and remember that brands with successful video ads on social media are the ones that communicate with authenticity.

Spend time getting to know your audience, the right type of language to use, and find topics that can connect or engage. Every business’s social media presence is unique, and you need to find a style that works for you.

If you remember to keep things short & simple, and always close with a call-to-action, you’ll soon find that your captions will work harder for your brand.

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