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The mobile social media platform TikTok has soared in popularity over the last few years. Total UK users are expected to reach 14.8 million individuals in 2022, which is a 200% increase in users from 2019. So, if you aren’t utilising TikTok as part of your social media strategy, the real question is, why not?

TikTok is the first video sharing mobile app which solely specialises in video content of up to 60 seconds long, and we’re already seeing other platforms following in their footsteps.

Society’s continued demand for video-orientated content is exacerbated by other, and more popular, social media platforms’ new attention to video. For example, Instagram’s recent announcement that “we’re no longer just a square photo-sharing app” and the introduction of Instagram reels demonstrates their intention to compete with TikTok. However, as an app where content relies on sound to get the message across, TikTok accessibility for the Deaf community is lacking.

In this blog post, we explore the importance of TikTok accessibility and how to use their new feature of auto captions to create subtitles for your business’ account.

Do The Deaf Community 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 5.5% of the world’s population live with hearing loss.

As a platform which encourages users to post innovative and creative videos, sound plays a huge factor. TikTok is known for its viral Gen Z dance videos, with a quarter of all 15-25 year-olds in the UK using the app. However, TikTok is far more than entertaining, dance and comedy videos; it is home to an abundance of niche communities, ranging from #CottageCore aesthetic, which has over 7 billion views, to the darker and mesmerising #WitchTok community, which reaches 17 billion views!

However, many hard of hearing or Deaf people feel excluded when they try to watch a video without closed captions.

Why TikTok Accessibility Is Important

“Marketing cannot be considered inclusive of people with disabilities if it is not accessible”.

Hannah Frankl for Think with Google

The same must be said for your business’ social media presence.

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 800 million views for #DeafTikTok and 474 million views under #ClosedCaption.

Not only do closed captions mean that the Deaf community can understand, interact and engage with your video’s content as others would, but it also helps 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.

Two women smiling and looking at their phone, accessible media.

TikTok’s New Accessibility Feature: Auto Captions

On the 6th of April 2021, TikTok introduced automated closed captions in line with their commitment to creating a more inclusive app environment. 

The new feature means that when users create content, they can select auto captions which produce automated subtitles on their videos. This allows viewers to read or listen to content and makes content accessible to all users.

How To Create TikTok Subtitles For Your Business’ Account

Step 1: Set up a 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.

Tip: With a business account, 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 breakdown of your follower demographic to ensure your future video content is targeted with that persona in mind.

Step 2: Record the video

Record and create an innovative TikTok 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.

TikTok praises brands who produce “authentic, creative content that could only be on TikTok”.

TikTok Tip: The strategy “don’t make ads, make TikToks” opens an opportunity for brands to create content that your audience wants to watch, wants to engage with, and most importantly, wants to recreate in their own videos.

Step 3: Turn on auto captions

Once you have recorded your video, you can select auto captions on the editing page or after your video has been uploaded.

Now that captions can be automatically transcribed from the sound, this means that you do not have to type them out like before, making accessibility easy.

Creators also have the power to make amends to the auto captions by clicking on each line of text. It’s important to proofread your TikTok closed captions to ensure that the auto captions correctly capture your message.

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 your content is accessible and inclusive. Now, upload the video!

Famous Deaf TikToker @Chrissycanthearyou, who has 1.2 million followers, created her own TikTok auto captions tutorial to spread awareness of the new feature.

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.