What was your most embarrassing office etiquette moment? For me, it was when I started to watch a hilarious video of a sheep screaming like a human and quickly realized my headphones weren’t plugged in. I frantically scrambled for the mute button on my keyboard while my distracted coworkers laughed at my mishap.
Sound familiar? Since then, I don't watch videos at work unless they don’t require sound.
Video content is in high demand from your audience, and many viewers prefer watching videos that don’t require sound. In fact, 85% of videos on Facebook are watched without sound. Videos on Facebook autoplay without sound until users click to turn up volume, and Instagram videos only autoplay with sound if the phone’s ringer is turned on.
Users are telling platforms their video streaming preferences, and they’re responding with features that make it easier to consume silently. Now, it’s up to content marketers to crack the code for making compelling videos that their audience will click and share, even without sound.
We’ve rounded up some of the best videos from around the internet that you don’t need volume to consume, along with reasons why they’re so great that you can use in your own video content strategy -- no headphones required.
Creating Content for the Silent Screen
Social media platforms have constraints that force marketers to get creative in order to attract attention. Think about it: Twitter has a 140-character limit, which makes you think very strategically about how to tell a story. Snapchat limits recordings to 10 seconds, forcing you to get to the point, and quickly.
What does all of this mean for marketers? It's time to get creative to get noticed on social media. Due to the volume constraints popular social platforms set on what you're posting, creating a video that doesn't require sound is a smart strategy to drive video views and engagement. By making videos "volume-agnostic," anyone can watch and understand them, whether they're on a desktop computer or browsing their social feeds on their commute. These videos might feature background instrumental music, but the bulk of the information is presented with graphics and captions so your audience can effectively "read" a video when it's muted.
Because nearly 80% of social media time is spent on mobile devices, making videos that are consumable with or without headphones is a great strategy to drive engagement on social media. We found several brands that are doing this well, so keep reading for tips for creating your own soundless video
11 Videos You Can Watch Without Volume
Tasty on BuzzFeed shares recipe videos that don't require volume -- or a lot of time -- to enjoy. Tasty videos reach 500 million people per month, and in December 2016, Tasty generated 1.4 billion video views -- 1.2 billion of which came from Facebook. Tasty's social media virality has something to do with the fact that the videos can be watched without sound, and a few key things make them so successful.
They're filmed in hyperlapse-style, which is immediately eye-catching and makes viewers want to stick around to learn how to make the rest of the recipe. What's more, Tasty videos solve problems for the viewer. In the example above, Tasty demonstrates how to make spaghetti in four different ways in a video that earned more than 76 million views.
Its "Four Ways to Make Anything" series is among its most popular, with each of the videos accumulating tens of millions (and sometimes, hundreds of millions) of views. Tasty's Producer, Alvin Zhou, told Adweek that recipe popularity and searches inform the videos they film -- for example, vegetable swaps for starches and vegetarian options drive views, so they make new videos in response to its audience's preferences.
If you're thinking about making a soundless video for your brand, think about Tasty's approach. Conduct buyer persona research to determine what challenges your audience is trying to solve -- in Tasty's case, it's finding easy recipes -- and adapting the story to a soundless social media landscape.
Tasty uses bold captions when needed, but the cooking demonstration is the video's star to quickly deliver viewers the information they need to go home and make the recipe. Once you have your story, determine if graphics, animations, captions, or demonstrations (or a combination) are the best way to get the information across to your viewers quickly and silently.
Mode shares lifestyle videos on Facebook and YouTube, and their most popular videos are their "100 Years of" retrospectives that look at a century of changes to a popular trend. And while the decade-specific background music in this video is fun, you can press mute and still learn about the history of women's workout wear.
Mode shared this video in early 2016, a time of year when millions of people resolve to start exercising more as part of their New Year's resolution. This soundless video drove engagement on Facebook and YouTube because it was timely. Lots of people were reading and watching content about exercise at the beginning of 2016, but the unique and timely angle of this video made social media scrollers stop and click to learn more. Additionally, it features one star who draws focus and makes the story crystal-clear, even without sound. It also has a simple backdrop, which Wistia recommends in order to maintain focus on the video subject.
If you have a great idea for a soundless video, it doesn't need to look extremely high-tech or busy. Stick to a clear and focused subject so the story is easy to understand without sound. Then, try to time its publication for a holiday or event when lots of people will be searching for information on the subject on social media and search engines.
Refinery29 publishes creative lifestyle inspiration videos, such as the hairstyle demonstration video here that garnered over 1 million views on Facebook. It uses bold and bright colors to attract attention. More than half of pageviews are less than 15 seconds long. Bright colors help this video pop out to viewers against the lighter-colored Facebook News Feed, YouTube homepage, and Twitter feed without sound to rely on.
It also shares pro tips to make a process easier, which cultivates a positive feeling among Refinery29's audience that the brand is sharing insider knowledge to help them learn how to do something. Finally, the celebrity social proof makes people familiar with Ariana Grande understand what the video is about without need for sound so they'll continue watching the video.
If you're sharing a soundless video that's as short and sweet as this one, make it visually eye-catching with color, and use social proof to compel people to keep watching, if you can. And if you can, amp up your topic's social proof in the video's title by mentioning a prominent figure like Ariana Grande, a short stat, or superlative words like "popular," "best," and "worst" to draw attention that way.
NowThis News, a social media outlet, only produces video content -- a neat way to get the news, if you ask me. NowThis publishes video news segments that work with or without sound, and the captions and video content work together to show and tell viewers what the story is all about.
In this example, NowThis uses shock factor to draw in viewers. Tylenol is one of the most popular painkillers in the U.S. alone, and the shock factor of learning your headache cure could impact your relationships makes viewers want to watch to learn more. Without sound, dramatic titles and headlines to draw viewers' attention are necessary. Additionally, the video features a negative headline, which Outbrain get more clicks than positive headlines.
When making a soundless video, make sure to choose a compelling angle to play up in the headline, captioning, and the video itself on social media. Whether it's humor, anger, or disgust, find a unique way to relate a subject to your audience's story to get them to click.
Business Insider publishes video content about industry news on Facebook, and this video is one of their most popular at almost 3 million views. The video employs the curiosity gap, a psychological concept that awareness of information we don't know yet makes us eager to learn it. Words like "hidden messages" trigger that curiosity and make viewers want to click to learn more and supplement the lack of sound.
The topic is also highly visual. If you're telling a story without sound, make sure the subject matter can be easily visualized so you don't rely on captions too heavily. Instead, rely on numerical data, animations, and images to tell the story for you.
BuzzFeed publishes videos on a variety of different topics. This one is popular at nearly 2 million views for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, it's funny. Emotion is a useful tool in advertising, and content that incites positive reactions, such as laughter, drives engagement. In order to communicate humor without sound, the content has to be highly visual, which Snapchat photos and videos already are.
Then, by using the word "best" in the video's title, BuzzFeed has told viewers without using sound that the video will invoke a great reaction, like laughing or being inspired. It's also a simple concept -- a slideshow of funny Snapchat captions -- which makes it work as a soundless video because it doesn't require much additional context to understand.
7) The Dodo
The Dodo publishes stories about animals, which involved lots of videos of them being cute. Their soundless videos work because they mostly feature animal stars. It's not an exact science, but animals are a great marketing tool. It's probably because they're cute and make us feel positive emotions when we see them. When making a soundless video, try choosing a topic or subject that incites strong positive or negative emotions to drive engagement.
Another perk of this video is that it's unexpected. When you think about pigs, do you typically imagine them wearing jackets or enjoying belly rubs? Me either, and that made me want to click on it just by seeing it, without having to hear anything about it with sound on.
If you're filming a video that can be viewed without sound, think about the star of the content. Whether it's a brilliant animation or an adorable piglet, try to elicit an emotional response and surprise viewers with something provocative to make them keep watching.
8) Tech Insider
Tech Insider is Business Insider's technology news division, and they publish unique science and tech explainer videos that don't require sound. This one uses cool visuals to break down a complicated concept. The animations used in this video draw attention in busy social media feeds and work with the captions illustrate the story, step-by-step.
It also answers a common question. Who else remembers spending the summer covered in mosquito bites? The title of this video made me instantly curious. If your organization has a product or expert who can inform on a common query, that could be a great subject for a soundless video.
The name of their Facebook Page is self-explanatory: 5-Minute Crafts publishes easy craft explainer videos that use household items. Their soundless videos work well because they focus on ease. The name of the page already tells viewers that they're going to learn how to do something quickly and easily. Then, the video's title tells viewers that they'll be able to repurpose things they already have to turn them into toys. This focus on time and money-saving immediately draws people in to watch the rest of the video.
If you're thinking about doing a soundless demonstration or DIY video, consider leveraging the fast-action filming style used in this video -- as well as the Tasty videos -- as it tends to stand out in busy news feeds where you're fighting for attention.
Vox publishes a ton of video content on social media channels where they do in-depth explainers of complicated topics in the news. This soundless video explains Deflategate, the pro football scandal that dominated the news for more than a year, in less than two minutes.
It's a complicated story, but Vox communicates it succinctly and clearly in this video with the help of bold captions, animations, and humor. The captions visually tell the more complicated parts of the story, while the video relies on photographs and animated graphics to set the scene of the story: who was involved, where it happened, and why it matters.
The emojis and interactive highlighting and texting add humor to the story to provoke a response and, hopefully, get viewers to share the video.
Not to toot our own horn, but here's our video review of how social media changed in 2016. The video uses captions and animations to build suspense, and promises to take viewers through a retrospective, which draws them in to watch until the end.
It's also very meta: A video on social media, about social media is a unique story within a story. There's a lot of variety among the videos included, but all of these videos have a few things in common:
- They're under five minutes in length
- They use captions
- The stories are simple
Whether you work for a B2B software company or a news organization, you can use video to tell your brand's story in a more engaging way. If your video doesn't require sound, so much the better for sharing it on social media. When you're ready to make your own, here are our tips for making a killer marketing video.
Want more tips for creating video content? Check out these video production tips.
Originally published Jan 23, 2017 7:00:00 AM, updated March 25 2019