Most of the videos people view online are silent or they have to switch the sound off because of their surroundings and not wanting to disturb other people.  Generally, we don’t like noisy or piercing sounds and instead, we tend to be captivated by strong visuals, animated text, or subtitles.

On LinkedIn, 79% of videos are viewed with the sound muted and that percentage is even higher on other social media platforms.  Facebook has analyzed their data to find that 80% of people actually show a negative reaction to a mobile ad playing loud sounds, simply because they are not expecting it.  This shows us that if you are promoting your brand, you definitely don’t want to incur expenses on audio for people to be put off.

So we’ve worked out that your audience is watching, but most of the time they have the sound switched off.  We want to share with you some useful tips on creating engaging silent videos for social media.

Subtitles and text overlays

Quite obviously, it would make sense to deliver a message visually using clear, concise text on the screen.  Subtitles still remain best practice for videos featuring speakers or voiceovers and also add value to soundtracks.  Most people like to read subtitles quickly; so they are following the speaker easily whilst watching on mute.  A really powerful way to add subtitles to your silent video would be to use the lyrics of a relevant song that highlight the emotive visuals you use for your campaign.

Another method is to use text overlays.  These form part of the design of the video itself and they need to be at a relaxed pace, without the audience finding it too long-winded a watching experience. Avoid the danger of your video morphing into a PowerPoint presentation!  Sticking to a maximum of 14 words per scene, over say three lines (ideally two).


Strong expressions and feelings depicted by the speaker or actors in the silent video are more compelling to the audience, such as close-ups used with on-screen text for a clearer message.  We have all been entertained by those old films and animations from the silent movie era; think of Charlie Chaplin for example!  Establishing the best shots at the storyboarding stage will help create the message that you aim to deliver.

Storyboard Image

Use sound intentionally

Let’s remember that we are not saying sound isn’t needed – what we are focusing on in this article is how to engage your audience effectively using silent videos or videos using some sound.

If you always created silent videos with no music or soundtrack at all, there is a chance your message might get lost or the viewers assume there’s a problem with their speakers!  Viewer frustration can quickly turn to switching to something else.  You could add in some sprightly music or sound effects to enhance the message you want to deliver, without relying solely on the sound itself.

We implemented some acoustic music into the Equischolars video which suited the message that they wanted to deliver.

The 3 second rule

Yes… 3 seconds!  It doesn’t seem like enough time to blink an eye does it?  You may throw your head back in dismay but this is the time it takes to engage your viewer.  After 3 seconds the audience will be watching your video or have completely erased it from their memory, to instead continue scrolling the social media feeds…  The 3 second rule also applies to the amount of time it takes to count as a video for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  The point is that you need to provide your viewer with an eye-catching, memorable video or image immediately.  This then becomes the marriage with your reader and they will want to see how the story unfolds…

Make sure you plan ahead

You need to consider, collectively and collaboratively what your story is going to be and how your existing branding will transfer to video.  Remember, the words and the images are the powerful tools here.  Use the right techniques to include the relevant language which will promote your message with or without sound.  You might want to use captions or short bits of text, as we have explained earlier in our blog.  It’s essential to do the legwork early on to ensure that the right message is going to reach your target audience successfully.

The way we consume media and watch videos online compares very differently to watching TV.  When we watch videos online we have more control over what we wish to see and can quickly scroll or navigate to something more interesting or relevant.

From a marketing point of view, the online silent viewing experience allows for more creativity within the video-making process.  Titles, animations and motion graphics should all be considered to enhance viewer experience and fully engage your audience.

Audio editing software