But if you invest in transcription for your social media, you'll gain at least five advantages that may be an equally pleasant surprise to you. Here are the advantages I see:
- A wider audience, part one: Online video may be the king of social media, but if you're publishing video in any format--from YouTube shorts to webinars and live-stream archives--without accompanying text, you've just reduced your search engine optimization dramatically. Search engines don't capture anything but the text, so your ability to be found may be limited to whatever's in the title and caption. Opening up a transcript means you're opening your video product to better and more complex search terms, and success in being found.
- A wider audience, part two: There are more than a million deaf people in the United States, and more than half of them are over age 65. Overall, you could be missing 20 percent or more of your audience if your communications vehicles aren't accessible to people with disabilities. Transcripts are just one way to gain new followers.
- Better speaking gigs: Too many speakers end their speeches and leave the room without a video or a transcript...or even a text. Your SlideShare may be fantastic, but if a conference organizer is trying to figure out from afar whether you have that certain something they're seeking, a video with transcript is the way to go. And that transcript could help you and others--including those of us who blog about public speaking--when it comes time to turn your talks into ebooks, blog posts or other written products. I'm just sayin'.
- Easier coverage from bloggers: Anytime you can save this blogger time is appreciated. Multiply that by the thousands of bloggers covering your turf, and transcripts make more sense, particularly if it's easy to cut and paste text to quote in my posts. Making me transcribe, on the other hand, may mean I move on to something easier to find--or don't blog on your topic for a while, as I wait for the transcript. That goes for both audio and video, and it's useful to note that transcriptions have long been a staple of national radio programming online, a real aid to spreading those stories around. (Pssst: The transcript also makes your own blogging easier.)
- Wider international reach, or wider local reach where English is a second language for many: In the same way, transcripts make it easier for non-English-speakers to grab a translation tool and make better sense of your video and audio offerings. You also can develop a cadre of volunteers to help you translate, as TED has done with its Open Translation Project, which has yielded 50,000 translations of TED talks in 104 languages by 15,000 volunteers. Where to start? With your most raving fans, members in or from other countries, or a locally based class of language learners. No matter which option you choose, the translators' work will go faster with a transcript in English in hand. And if you think that's a stretch, even my blog readers have transcribed and translated material for me. Give it a try.