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Instagram releases auto-generated captions for video

The war between Meta and TikTok shows no signs of slowing as Instagram has announced another fresh update for videos.

Videos on Instagram will now have an auto-generated caption option, just like they have over at TikTok. It will be available in 17 languages, with more to follow.

Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, via Twitter

“It’s a long time coming, but we’re excited to share a new tool that empowers those in the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities.

“Videos on Instagram will now have auto-generated captions, where you have the option to turn them off or on.”

Auto-generated captions are an overdue improvement for hearing impaired or deaf communities and improve accessibility for anyone who prefers to watch them with the sound off – all of which could help improve the popularity of videos on the platform.

How did captioning work previously on Instagram video?

Previously, users had to add captions to videos manually, so this announcement will be a relief to creators who had been doing that. It will save them precious time, which could be reinvested back into creating new stuff.

The update follows hot on the heels of another helpful feature: caption stickers for Stories. Caption stickers for Stories auto-generate text based on audio input, which is another way creators can make their content more accessible and easy to digest.

Brands and creators should welcome the move, as it will ensure content can reach a wider audience. It will also mean Stories can be consumed and understood in sound on or off context.

Available in 17 languages

As mentioned before, auto-captions are available in 17 languages. They are: English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Arabic, Vietnamese, Italian, German, Turkish, Russian, Thai, Tagalog, Urdu, Malay, Hindi, Indonesian and Japanese. More will follow shortly.

Users can turn auto-generated captions on or off via the advanced settings found in Instagram and toggling the ‘show captions’ button. The AI will also work hard behind the scenes to improve the captioning accuracy, but it will be interesting to see how it copes with regional and national accents.

Facebook video best practice

You need to jump on board if you’re not already on the closed-caption bandwagon. For a start, it is a Facebook video best practice (and so is designing your video to be watched with sound off). Here are some others:

  • Keep your video short. Around 15 seconds or less means that people are more likely to watch until the end. Advertisers should also remember that video ads are eligible for Instagram Stories and Facebook in-stream placement if they’re 15 seconds or less.
  • Capture attention quickly by placing the most compelling part of your video within the first three seconds.
  • Design your video to be watched as a vertical or square video, as this is how most people hold their phones. 4:5 vertical video ads work well across Instagram, Facebook and Audience Network.
  • Feature your product or message quickly. Remember, people scroll fast, so make sure you get your message across within the first 15 seconds.

Mass retirements

Auto-generated captions isn’t the only change brought to Insta recently. Instagram has announced the cull of its IGTV app. The app will be removed from stores this month (March 2022) since Insta wants video to be as easy to discover as possible and accessible to everyone.

Instagram hopes to achieve that by bringing all video under the main app. That means IGTV ads will be ditched, although Instagram will explore ways to bring them back under a different name for Reels.

Additionally, Instagram announced the end of an era by removing Boomerang and the time-lapse app Hyperlapse. Boomerang spawned a million funky Stories, but with 301 million lifetime global downloads, it has run its race.

Launched in a time when Insta was cautious about introducing too many features to its main app, Boomerang and Hyperlapse have been sacrificed as those concerns were no longer valid. It has integrated many of its creative tools into the main camera app.

But Boomerang lovers don’t need to get too down – its main features will continue to be available within the app, even if it feels a little outdated now.

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