About 85% of videos watched on social media platform Facebook is watched with the audio turned off. Most brands and websites like Little Things, Mic, Cooking Panda, and PopSugar who are publishing video content on Facebook reveal that their videos are being viewed sans audio.
In June this year, Facebook started auto-playing videos without the audio and offer video captioning to advertisers. This is in response to 80% of users who reacted negatively when mobile ads automatically play with the sound on, creating a backlash with brand perception.
However, Facebook also found that 41% of videos cannot stand without sound, and as a result, they rolled out video ad captioning. With this, advertisers have the choice to incorporate captions in their post production or entrust the job to Facebook. If they go for the latter, they can review or edit the text prior implementation.
Clearly, video content on Facebook should be able to deliver messages across with or without sound. However, it’s a different situation with Snapchat. According to a report, Snapchat claims that two-thirds of the videos published on their platform are viewed with the sound turned on. This somehow contradicts what Facebook says about audio being just an afterthought for users viewing videos on their Newsfeeds.
So when creating videos for social media marketing, is audio still a must or is it merely an optional component that doesn’t bear much weight?
The Role of Sound
Just like with SEO, social media marketing is also an ever-changing field, because user behavior is dynamic. The way people engage in different platforms vary, and if you want to make the most impact, you need to be attuned to how people move around these virtual communities.
Videos are one way to engage social media users, and this fact has been established already. However, what marketers need to work on is how to present their videos and find the right treatment suited for their target audience and platform. And now, the current debate is on whether or not audio is a must for videos published on social media.
Traditionally, sound is used in films, documentaries, or any other video feature to set a mood or emotion—which is something that mere captions nor speaking lines can’t always deliver. It’s a basic concept when it comes to storytelling, and the fact that some people want to watch videos in silence is something that challenges what we’ve always known about videos and film.
Because times have changed, is audio now an afterthought for videos used for social media marketing or does it remain to be an important component that marketers shouldn’t ignore? It’s actually both, and producers and directors should step up the way they treat videos for social media platforms.
Coping with Different User Behavior towards Sound
Since there are cases when audio is merely an option (Facebook) and instances when it seems to be a must (Snapchat), one possible solution would be to create different versions of video content according to where they would be posted. Basing on the figures discussed, videos that will be used on Facebook should be created with captions and should be able to deliver messages clearly even if it is watched without audio. While those that will be posted on Snapchat should be tailored with sound.
However, creating these versions may not be as simple as removing captions or trimming certain parts of your clips. It can warrant a completely different way of shooting and producing the videos, and that may not sound so appealing for marketers with time and budget constraints.
As of today, there may be conflicting views about videos being audio-optional or built with sound as an important component. Regardless, both versions have value, and that’s something that no one can discredit.
So, how then can you make the most bang for the videos you post on social media? If you’re having a dilemma on whether to prioritize weight on audio or not, focus on the viewing behavior of your target audience.
How to Make Videos Engaging on Social Media
Social media marketing is becoming more competitive, and video content can help you break through all that noise… if you know how to make them engaging. For a start, focus on user behavior.
As previously discussed, user behavior varies per platform, and it may also be different according to what you’re selling and who you intend to offer it to.
Be familiar with how users interact with your content. Check your analytics. Are people watching your videos with sound? Or do they seem to be enjoying the show even without the audio? Facebook may say that audio is optional while Snapchat may say otherwise, but ultimately, what you should focus on is how people respond to your content and keep that in mind as you create future posts.
For instance, Shaun McBride, a popular video creator on YouTube and Snapchat believes that 70% of his video content on Snapchat is watched without audio. Since that is the case, his posts can be digested with or without sound. If users choose to watch in silence, they will still get the message. Meanwhile, those who want to play it with audio would still get his point along with some background music.
Aside from user behavior, it will also depend on what you want to evoke with your video. Do you want to reach out on people’s emotions? Or do you simply want to provide them with information that they can’t resist?
If you’re using how-to videos, you can make audio optional and simply use instrumental music, but captions would be a must. Meanwhile, if you wan to tell a story, similar to campaigns done by brands like Dove, then musical scoring is also of importance. You might want to consider adding subtitles if you want to reach out to an audience that’s not so keen on watching with sound.
Make the first few seconds count. Regardless if audio is a must or not in your video, you need to be able to pique user interest in the first few seconds of your clip if you want them to keep watching until the end. Also, use captions as teasers to your video. It should be able to communicate what the video is about and at the same time, urge users to hit the play button.
Above all, your videos should be written and shot well. Footage should be clear and clips should be trimmed well. Transitions and visual effects should be glitch-free. No matter how profound a video’s message is, audio-optional or not, it will be for nothing if the concept was not executed well.