Facebook has recently rolled out a new automatic captioning feature for videos uploaded to its platform. It started early in 2016 for advertisers, and began to be released to all users in October 2016. And while the hard of hearing and other populations who have traditionally benefited from accessible and captioned videos, Facebook’s captioning is ideal for mobile users and all users who prefer their social media with the sound off.


It makes a lot of sense: even with Facebook’s auto-playing videos, many users just scroll past content because they can’t hear it and don’t want to. But with captions, users can better understand what a video is all about; they may stop to read the captions, or they may even click it to turn the audio on.


Whether you’re a regular or an occasional uploader of video content to Facebook, auto captions are a huge convenience. However, as with most of the social network’s features, it’s a good idea to learn a little bit about it before you start using it. Here are six things you need to know about automatic captioning on Facebook videos.


  1. You definitely want to use captions on your Facebook video. Facebook users may scroll right past a silent video of a talking head, but if there’s a caption to show them what that talking head is saying, they’re more likely to stop and pay attention. The auto captioning feature makes this easier than ever. In fact, you might even think of auto captioning as auto engaging, as videos with captions engage viewers much faster than videos without captions.


  1. You still need to hit the “Generate” button. Even though the name implies that captioning happens automatically, you still need to tell Facebook to create captions. After you upload a video to Facebook, you’ll see a little option above the video window to add captions, along with a “Generate” button. Click it, and you’ll be able to look over what Facebook automatically transcribes in the Review Captions pop up window.


  1. It’s not perfect. As anyone who has used YouTube’s auto-generated captions or looked at their voicemail’s transcription attempts can tell you, we still have a long way to go in terms of our machines accurately transcribing voice. Still, if the audio on your videos is clear and carefully done, Facebook’s auto-captioning should do a good job. We should also add that it seems to be most accurate — for now — if you’ve got a midwestern American accent (think television news anchors).


  1. You can always edit the captions that Facebook generates — and you should! It’s a new feature, and auto-captioning will make some transcription mistakes. Leave them in your video for your followers to see, and it reflects badly on you and your business. Edit your captions in the Review Captions pop up window, and when you’ve got them done properly, click the “Save to Video” button to finalize your changes.


  1. Facebook’s captions turn on automatically only when audio is off. As soon as a follower clicks a video to turn the audio on, the captions will stop. Followers who need them, however, can easily turn them back on.


  1. Be extra mindful of what’s on the screen as you’re making your video. If your audience is busy reading captions, they won’t have much attention left over for reading other things on the screen, watching quick cuts, or noticing fine details in your shots. You’ll want to keep your captioned videos visually simple, or they’ll be frustrating to watch and read.


Caption that Clip!

There’s really no reason to not use Facebook’s auto-captions. They’re easy to set up, and they make your videos a lot more engaging to an otherwise passive audience. Most followers won’t click on a silent video just out of sheer curiosity — there are too many other things on Facebook to watch and look at and spend their time on. With captions, it’s a lot more likely that you’ll capture followers’ attention. Give it a try on your next Facebook video, and please let us know in the comments if your viewership improves!