4 November 2016

Silence Is Golden: The Importance of Silent Videos in Marketing

  • Charlie Chaplin
James Ashe, Creative Director at Alias: Social Media Agency Cheltenham

It seems crazy to think that silent videos are back in vogue, but that’s exactly what’s happening on social media at the moment – more and more of us are watching Facebook and Instagram videos in complete silence.

There are plenty of reasons why silent videos have become so popular this year. As we increasingly turn to our mobiles for the majority of our internet usage, we often find ourselves watching videos in places where sound may be a hindrance or a nuisance – for example, when we’re commuting on busy public transport, scrolling through Facebook's News Feed under the duvet or even having a sneaky watch on the loo (did you know that 75% of people admit to using the phone on the toilet?)! According to Facebook, as many as 85% of people watch videos on its platform silently, and that figure is only set to rise.

Clever brands and media outlets have cottoned onto this and have started captioning their videos with key facts and messages so that viewers can get all the details without having to hit that speaker button. This video from The Guardian is the perfect example of how this trend is developing, as it features no speech at all – any sound attributed to the video is just music.

This could well be the key to increasing user retention on videos too – although Facebook counts a view as three seconds or more, most UK users will only watch around 25% of a video before dropping off.  However, by providing interesting, clear content that can be understood without sound, it’s more likely that viewers will stay to the end. 

We used this same technique recently in a promotional video for Warwick Edging. The video was to be played on a busy exhibition floor, so we needed to make sure the most important messages cut through a loud, bustling environment. Although we included narration so that the video could be used across a wide range of formats and in different scenarios, we also captioned key aspects of the video. And it worked – visitors to the exhibition stopped to watch it, despite there being no sound. This allowed the Warwick Edging team to chat to them about the services they offer and the processes involved in the video.  

Although silence seems to be golden at the moment, it’s worth considering a sound on/sound off option, especially when planning to use the same video across a number of channels – for example, YouTube plays sound automatically. Nevertheless, silent videos are continuing to dominate the social media landscape, and it pays to be prepared.

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