How to add subtitles to your LinkedIn videos

If you don’t have subtitles, your video will be watched less.

Photo by William Bayreuther on Unsplash

TL;DR
At present I’m happy with
veed.io. It’s not the cheapest. However, it’s easy, attractive, works in any browser, provides what I want to do with subtitles and adds some other video editing goodies.

There are several sources on the Internet that will tell you that over 80% of social media videos are watched with the sound off.

Reasons for this range from the viewer being deaf/hard-hearing to “I don’t have any earphones handy and don’t want to annoy those around me”.

Whatever the reason, the stats overwhelmingly tell us that if you don’t have subtitles (aka captions) on your vid by the time you publish it, it will be watched less.

So you’ve recorded a (short) video, on your smartphone or professional camera. And you’re about to publish it on LinkedIn (or Facebook etc.), but decide to add subtitles — good move!
Or maybe you just want to put it on an Intranet or send it as an email attachment (assuming it is a smallish file), again with subtitles added.

What are your options?

The first thing that should be mentioned is that subtitles can be either “burnt into” the video (aka hard-subbing) or supplied in an accompanying file. The most commonly used file format for this is SubRip Text (.srt).

Remember that, unlike the sound, once you’ve baked subtitles into your video, you cannot remove them.

So that .srt option has its uses, because it allows you to have a single video (typically a largish. .mp4) file without subtitles, together with one or more small subtitle files, one for each language you wish to support.

The other reason why you want to be aware of .srt files, is that this is the only format that some transcription tools deliver subtitles in. In other words, some tools do not give you the “burn-in” option and if you want to distribute your video on technologies that don’t support .srt (like email, your Intranet), then you’ll need to find another tool for hard-subbing your words into the original video.

LinkedIn does support .srt — on the browser version, not on the LinkedIn app. Hit the Edit button after you’ve uploaded your video and you’ll see the option.

You normally don’t have to look inside an .srt file. But if you did, you’d find .srt files are simple easy-to-edit text files. This can be handy if you wish to correct spelling, insert (or remove) punctuation, line-breaks, even emoji. Not every video tool supports emoji on display, but LinkedIn does.

But back to the grind… how do you effortlessly produce subtitles in the form of either an .srt or a hard-subbed video?

Here are some workflows I tried.

I find video and subtitle editing on smartphones too fiddly, because of the small screen size. However there are some good-looking apps out there. If you prefer to go this way check out Autocap for Android or Clipomatic for iOS.

Fully-fledged, and often complicated looking laptop/desktop packages like Adobe Premiere, Camtasia, Filmora9 etc. usually allow you to type subtitles yourself… one by one, on a time line. While I love the relatively low-cost Filmora9 for the other things it can do (and do easily), manually entering subtitles one by one and aligning them with the audio-track is a tedious process! The upside is that Filmora9 provides a stack of subtitle styles and effects. So if you want to get fancy with your subtitles, Filmora9 is still an option — but snappy it is not.

If you upload your video to YouTube (even though your main aim may be to publish to LinkedIn), then you can also type your own subtitles, using the YouTube classic UI. What makes entry easy is YouTube’s built-in subtitle/transcription tool, which does the heavy lifting in terms of syncing and getting the words just-about-right, based on the audio it “hears” on the video. You won’t have to correct much, mainly punctuation, capitalisation and uncommon names. But you can’t do anything fancy with your subtitles.
You can export your .srt out of the YouTube. However YouTube being very much a “closed” medium, it won’t burn subtitles back into the original, for you to then take somewhere else.
You can hyperlink from a LinkedIn post to YouTube. However according to some this may affect how your video performs on LinkedIn.

YouTube proves that automated transcription has come a long way. However, at present, do not expect any automated subtitle generator to be flawless.

That’s where rev.com comes in. It’s powered by… humans.
You upload your video to their website, which is very straightforward to use. Then in a matter of hours to a day, you’ll get your faultless .srt file for a cost of US $1 per (part) minute of video time. So, if your video runs for 1:30, you pay $2.
rev.com do not burn the subtitles into the video for you. If your video is for LinkedIn (or Facebook) only, then you don’t have to care about this.

So it then becomes a matter of whether you have the patience to having to wait several hours or perhaps overnight.

If you need your subtitles quickly, with a little effort by your good self, then an AI-assisted transcription function that does 90% of the work may be the way the go.

Veed.io, Zubtitle.com and Kapwing.com all have a transcription feature similar to YouTube. All of these tools have user-friendly editors to make your corrections to the robot-generated first cut of your subtitles.

In addition, these three also allow you to style your subtitles (font style, size, colour, alignment etc.) before hard-subbing them into your video.
Veed and Zubtitle also produce an .srt file for you, Kapwing doesn’t appear to have this option.
Zubtitle appears to support emoji until you download your annotated video and find they are missing. Hopefully they’ll fix this soon.

Note that an .srt does not contain styling information, only the plain text. So, if you want to get funky with your subtitles on LinkedIn, upload the hard-subbed version, rather than the combo of original video and .srt.

The basic version of Kapwing Subtitles is free and does not superimpose any watermarks.
Zubtitle’s basic $10 plan gives you 10 minutes of hard-subbed footage, which you can consume across multiple videos. It’s the same price per minute as rev.com, except Zubtitle charges pro rata. So a video of 1:30 will take $1.50 out of your balance after you have edited your subtitles and confirmed to burn them into your vid.
Veed is a comprehensive online video-editing package that includes a lot more than just subtitles (trimming, sounds, stickers etc.). Decide for yourself if it’s worth US $20/month.

Veed.io, rev.com, zubtitle.com and kapwing.com are all web-based tools. On the one hand that’s an attractive aspect, as you don’t need to have any software physically on the computer you happen to use that day, be that at home, in the office or elsewhere.
The disadvantage of processing videos via the Internet is that video files tend to be big, so you’re likely to spend some time waiting for uploads and downloads to complete, while consuming bandwidth, and possibly $$, in the process.

In experimenting with the various tools I noticed that the output files (i.e. the resulting .mp4’s) of a number of the tools were unexpectedly larger than the input — by a lot!
Enter VideoSmaller. A quick, free way to reduce video file sizes. It is a self-explanatory tool that runs in your browser. Head over to http://www.videosmaller.com to enjoy file size reduction of typically 50–75%, in my experiments.

Conclusion

I wish I could give a clear recommendation with respect to the best tools and workflow to use to add subtitles to your video for use on LinkedIn. But there are too many factors at play. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.
Feel free to mention your favourite tools in the comments.

To wrap it up, I’ll mention some laptop tools I came across for burning an .srt into your video.

In older articles on this topic you’ll see Handbrake mentioned quite a bit. It looks outdated, but it still works, on Mac too. However when I tested it on a video in portrait orientation I found that the font size came out too big, with text falling off the sides, and I wasn’t able to change this.

Movavi does a good job of hard-subbing your video file with your subtitle file. It’s $49/yr if you don’t want their Watermark baked into your vid.