Making silence golden on social video

Photo by Kristina Four on Unsplash

Photo by Kristina Four on Unsplash

Sound’s off on a lot of social video, so how can you make silence golden?

If you’re checking FB on the loo (no judgement!!!), being able to mute videos is VERY handy. But if you’re making video for social you gotta make it work without sound.

There are two main ways to do this.

The first is to create subtitles/closed captions or title graphics. The second is to create a video that doesn’t need sound to be completely compelling.

First things first. Subtitles or closed captions display all the dialogue that appears in the video at the foot of the image. Subtitles are ‘burned in’ to the video while closed captions can be switched on or off.

These types of ‘transcription’ title are perfect for documentary videos that need to move us emotionally. An obvious example are pet rescues where someone is describing the process and their feelings about the rescue kitty or dog. Facebook has a lot of these type of videos.

Any video which won’t make sense or be as powerful without being able to hear what people say should have a transcription available.

You can get videos transcribed at very low cost by companies like and 3playmedia and they even create closed captions you can add as a file to Facebook and Instagram videos. Job done!

Title graphics are similar to subtitles/captions. The main differences are that they’re usually part of the video’s visual design, they tell the story independently of any dialogue and they create a narrative by playing off the video images.

Using title graphics works best when the video is gorgeous to look at and the message is simple. You see them a lot on Instagram. @benandjerrys use this technique really well. And a whole sub-genre of social video that relies on graphic titles is recipes. They combine gorgeous shots of food being prepared with instructions and ingredient info.

However, some videos don’t require titles or sound to work.

A really significant genre here involves what I call ‘process’ videos. These involve watching someone complete a process to generate a final product or result, usually with the video ramped/sped up.

Cake decorating, make-up demos, construction projects, hair-styling, even fashion vids where someone shows how they put together an outfit – these videos keep us hanging on because we want to see how things turn out. Sound doesn’t really matter.

Someone I follow who does a mean make-up demo is @makeupbyemynicholson. Simple and interesting - check her out 😊

Another non-sound-reliant sub-genre I see a lot of is BTS video on Instagram Stories. While vids like this do often have someone explaining what’s going on, if they’re a quick and dirty pan around a fashion shoot or the studio or an event they’re often fascinating just based on what can be seen in the shot.

Check out @magnoliakitchen’s ‘Caker’ Highlights for some examples of BTS cake decorating which easily works with noises off.

What about you? How do you manage sound in your social video? Favourite examples?