Creating Silent-Friendly Videos for Facebook

Megan O'Neill


When most of us think of “video,” we think of two things — moving picture and sound. But today, for a lot of advertisers and content creators, sound is dropping out of the equation. Why? Because of the way today’s viewers are consuming mobile content.

Riddle us this:

  • Have you ever scrolled through your Facebook feed at work and been intrigued by a video, but haven’t been able to click to hear the audio because your headphones were nowhere to be found and you didn’t want to disturb your coworkers?
  • Do you ever surf the web on your mobile device on public transportation, where listening to audio aloud will earn you the stinkeye from your fellow passengers?

Since video began autoplaying in the Facebook News Feed, in the Twitter and Instagram feeds and, most recently, on LinkedIn, those that are “in the know” have been making suggestions for how to start your video to entice viewers to click to turn on audio. But recently, as the ways (and places) that people consume video content has changed, a new trend has arisen — creating videos that make sense even if you never turn the audio on because, often times, viewers simply can’t.

Note: When we talk about “silent-friendly” video, we don’t mean that your video shouldn’t include audio. You can still include sound for those that choose to click to listen, but you should ensure that your video can be understood by those that don’t. If you are looking for information on how to create a truly silent video using Animoto, check out our Help Center post on How to Make an Animoto Video Without Sound.

The return of the silent film era

Wondering how you could possibly tell your story without any audio? It’s not as crazy a concept as you may think. Just bring yourself back to the early days of film, to the silent era. Charlie Chaplin was a master at telling a story without words:

And in longer films, like The Phantom of the Opera, titles were used to share dialogue and plot points:

The tools & tricks of today

Today, we have the same tools that silent film directors have at their disposal — and the good news is, while back in the day only the Fritz Langs and Cecille B. Demilles had access to the tools needed to create great silent films, today anyone can create silent videos. Following are some ways to stand out, and get your point across without sound.

Use titles

Go The Phantom of the Opera route and use videos to tell your story. Here’s a video we’re using to promote an event in the Animoto office. As you can see, all of the information is shared entirely using titles, and video clips that express the essence of the event.

Have a video you’d like to run as an ad on Facebook that doesn’t have enough captions to tell your story? Soon, as an advertiser on Facebook, you’ll be able to choose to have captions added automatically to your videos.

This new product feature was the result of recent internal Facebook data that revealed that “when feed-based mobile video ads play loudly when people aren’t expecting it, 80% react negatively, both toward the platform and the advertiser.” Facebook also found that “captioned video ads increase video view time by an average of 12%.”

Showcase a product

Sometimes you need very few titles to get your point across. For instance, this video from Flux Productions (who you can read more about on our blog) uses a few short titles to introduce different products, but the majority of what makes the video special and attention-grabbing is the great product shots.

Include a logo and call to action

Make sure to include your logo and brand colors (if you’ve got ‘em). This’ll help you catch the eye of viewers that are familiar with you as they scroll through their news feed. However, we recommend holding off on full screen logo shots right at the beginning, as they aren’t likely to capture attention as well as jumping right into the content. You can find out more in our blog post exploring best practices for adding a logo to your video.

You’ll also want to be sure to add a text call to action so that viewers know what to do next. You can also read more about adding a call to action on our blog.

Why go silent?

Still not convinced that silent-friendly video is for you? Facebook for business recently reported that “in one study of Facebook video ads, 41% of videos were basically meaningless without sound.” By simply adding a few captions, showcasing your product with photos and video clips, and adding a logo, you can avoid being a part of that 41%.

Are you creating silent videos to market your company? We’d love to hear about it. Share your ideas in the comments, or reach out on Facebook or Twitter.

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