The mobile social media platform TikTok has soared in popularity over the last few years, with user engagement increasing by 1,533% compared to other social media platforms between 2017 and 2019. There are over 800 million users worldwide and an estimated 11 million TikTok users in the UK. So, if you aren’t utilising TikTok as part of your social media strategy, the real question is why not?

TikTok is the only video sharing mobile app where anyone can post and share original, creative videos on any topic up to 60 seconds long. However, as an app where content relies on sound to get the message across, TikTok accessibility is lacking.

In this blog post, we explore the importance of TikTok accessibility, why TikTok closed captions are important for your reach and how to create TikTok subtitles for your business’ account.

Female looking at iPhone surrounded by art supplies.

Do Hard of Hearing, Or Deaf People, Use TikTok?

Yes – The hard of hearing and deaf TikTok community is prevalent and growing, and they depend on TikTok subtitles to be included. TikTok closed captions are essential for your business account to be accessible and inclusive for everyone; after all, there’s over 11 million deaf or hard of hearing people in the UK and 6.1% of the world’s population are said to have hearing loss.

As a platform that encourages users to post innovative and creative videos, sound plays a huge factor. TikTok is known for its viral Gen Z dance videos, with over a quarter of all 15-25 year-olds in the UK using the app; TikTok is far more than entertaining, dance and comedy videos. However, many hard of hearing or deaf people feel excluded when they try to watch a video without closed captions.

Does TikTok Have Closed Captioning?

Yes, TikTok does have closed captioning, however they aren’t automated. So, to make your content accessible for all, you have to type out your TikTok subtitles.

As an app that predominantly relies on sound for users to interact and engage with videos, it’s surprising that closed captions aren’t automated on TikTok for all users to be able to enjoy the content. Hopefully this is something we’ll see soon!

Although, in response to deaf awareness week, TikTok launched the #HowToSign challenge in hopes of further open communication between users. From this hashtag, the deaf TikTok community has been recognised, with more user-generated content creators opting to include closed captions to make their profile as inclusive as possible.

Why TikTok Accessibility Is Important

TikTok accessibility for the hard of hearing and deaf community can often be overlooked. Yet, for a business’ TikTok account to reach all potential customers, your videos must be inclusive to all.

The potential reach and engagement for those who create accessible content is vast, with over 236 million views for the hashtag category #deaftiktok and 112 million views under the hashtag category #closedcaption.

For your content to grow organically, a TikTok business account should directly link to your businesses website and other social media accounts. Brands who are active on TikTok can expect over 200,000 views on average per post, and you can use the TikTok analytics feature to create a monthly report of how many video views, profile views and website clicks you’ve achieved. Within these analytics, you can see your follower growth and a break down of your follower demographic to ensure your future video content is targeted with that persona in mind.

Not only do closed captions mean that those who are deaf or hard of hearing can understand, interact and engage with your video’s content as others would, but it also helps for anyone regardless of ability to focus on your video’s message. What’s more, with closed captions you’re making your content consumable for users who can’t have the volume up or who choose not to.

Business women holding a mobile phone and looking over her right shoulder.

How To Create TikTok Subtitles For Your Business’ Account

A business TikTok account is free to set up. The tricky part is making sure your content is creative and engaging. An integrated strategy between your TikTok profile, other social media profiles and website will help to strengthen your brand identity and brand awareness, in turn putting your business in a positive position for conversions.

Step 1: Record the video

Record and create an innovative Tik Tok video. You could use this opportunity to promote your business or play around with the available stickers, filters, voice effects or sounds. When you’re happy with your content, press the red tick in the bottom right-hand corner.

Step 2:  Write the closed captions

Click on the ‘Text’ button at the bottom of the video; here, you should find a range of fonts, colours, text alignment and text highlighting options. Type out the text of your video, whether this is the words you spoke or the background music lyrics. Be sure to choose a font and colour that allows the text to be easily readable. For instance, don’t use a light coloured text if the background of the video is also light.

Step 3: Position the closed captions towards the top or middle of your TikTok

Once you’ve typed out and proofread your TikTok closed captions, place the text at the top of the TikTok video so that it’s easy to view and read for all. If you placed the closed captions towards the middle or the bottom of the video, it’s much more difficult for people to read as the text is hidden behind hashtags and captions.

Step 4: Add relevant hashtags and upload your TikTok

Remember to add the relevant hashtags to your video, including #closedcaption or #CC for short, to show that you’ve content is accessible and inclusive. Now, upload the video!

If you choose to repurpose your TikTok ideas on other platforms, it’s important to analyse if and how your content can be accessible for all needs and abilities. For instance, have you considered how visually impaired users can access your content on Instagram?

For your brand to be inclusive and accessible for all, it’s important to consider how you implement your social media strategy across all platforms. Our team of content specialists are here to support you and your business, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch.