If you’re like me, you spend some time each week in a busy office, working. A big chunk of our days are spent at a desk or work station where we must concentrate to deliver something of value to someone else. It’s a funny thing we humans do, right?
On occasion while working, I follow a link that promises to inform me about something useful, and it takes me to a page with a nice, shiny video. But there’s a problem; maybe my speakers are disabled, or a nearby colleague is on the phone, or my wireless connection is slow, or I have a meeting in three minutes. I just want to see the point of the link very quickly, because I’m in the middle of something else.
If only I could scan the transcript! But as usual, there isn’t one.
More Than Just a Best Practice
Remember the old days of television, when viewers were invited to write to the network for a transcript at the end of the program? I remember one comedy show where the narrator stated, “For a transcript of today’s program, feel free to write everything down.” Very funny, but when surfing the web today I feel like I’m watching that old program again, looking for a transcript and being left empty-handed.
Today the transcripts for network shows can be found on the network’s website, with varying levels of digging required (Companies like 3PlayMedia create transcripts quickly). Consumer product videos and business to business videos are treated very differently, where we embed a video and call it a day. It’s time to go a little further.
Why You Should Include Online Video Transcripts
I visited LinkedIn to ask this question: “Is it necessary or important to include a transcript for a recorded interview, product demo, news item, or webinar?” It turns out there are several excellent reasons why you should include a transcript with every video you post, and make it easy to find. Here are 7 of those reasons:
It’s Easier for Business Viewers
When I’m in a busy office environment, I would be happy to watch someone’s video content, but can’t. A transcript allows me to scan for the info I need before committing the time to watch. Some people browse while traveling, or on their mobile devices, and don’t want to disturb others. It is useful to those who do not use audio on their computers, and some offices don’t allow computer speakers. And there’s often the problem of slow connections, causing pauses and buffering for one technical reason or another.
It’s Better for Sharing and Storing
Transcripts can extend the usefulness of videos by making their content easier to absorb and share. It is less important that people watch a video than that they get the message and share it with others. Your viewers can read a transcript, review it, skim it, copy pertinent parts, and email them to others quickly and with little effort. While viewers can’t send friends part of a video, they can easily send the link with a short quote to raise interest. Sharing is one of the important online video metrics that a transcript can help improve.
People are Different
The reasons people view online video break down as follows: They want to see if they like you, they are wondering if they should trust you, or they are deciding whether to do business with you. A lot of people appreciate a transcript because they can scan it faster than a video, and they will give you different amounts of time in exchange for what they want to know. A straight video only serves one of those purposes. Finally, some people don’t have the patience (hi!) and just want you to get to the point. The bottom line here is that people want to take in your content in their own preferred ways.
Transcripts Differentiate You
Transcripts are by no means considered the ‘standard’ for online business videos, so until they become more widespread, they will help you stand out. A transcript provides another vehicle of information delivery that compliments your video, which will interest more people. You will be giving yourself a leg up on your competitors. Remember, you’re not just looking for views, you’re trying to get people to buy, so give them more reasons to do that. Give them a choice. Give them a transcript.
Video Transcripts Boost SEO
Video drives SEO by having a well-defined title and description, but the content within the video does nothing unless you include a transcript. By being creative with your content and wording, you can better optimize your video page than by publishing a video on its own. If the video has been uploaded to Youtube and you have shared or embedded it on your site, having a transcript will greatly boost your SEO.
It Helps People with Hearing Impairments
When posting a video online, you should consider the accessibility of your content to individuals who are deaf or have hearing impairments. It’s a significant improvement in accessibility and usability. Even people who can hear well can easily miss what’s said in a video. A transcript allows them to continue watching without having to navigate back to repeat what they didn’t get the first time around.
There is Actually a Standard
Would you believe that transcripts are more than just a best practice, but a certifiable one? Technically, according to Certified Internet Webmaster (CIW) certification standards, a transcript should be provided with an online video. Certified Internet Webmaster courses teach website developers and server administrators to adhere to design, security and usability standards that are endorsed by the Association of Internet Professionals and the World Organization of Webmasters.
Ultimately, there is no harm in adding a transcript to your online video, and you have everything to gain, whether it’s greater usability, shareability, reach, retention, differentiation, or search engine optimization. At the very least, it’s like chicken soup for your video; it will probably help you, and it certainly can’t hurt!
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