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Instructions: Create subtitles for videos (semi) automatically on Facebook

In March 2016, Facebook announced automatic subtitles as a feature, in January 2017 it was made available to many sites in the US, and now Facebook is finally making the tool available for more sites. Fortunately, because currently there are still many videos on Facebook without subtitles, even though up to 95% of the videos without sound are automatically played on Facebook. A large part of the videos is therefore completely unusable for Facebook.

It should have been known for a long time:
Your videos are played automatically, only a fraction turns the sound on and that's why you need subtitles. This is especially true if you rely on reach in the news feed, within Instagram Stories it would be something else.

What has always worked is to create subtitles on YouTube completely automatically and then use them for Facebook. Now we can show you how you can automatically create the subtitles directly on Facebook.

Step 1 - Upload video & have subtitles created

When uploading, you don't have to pay attention to anything at first, you put the video on your Facebook page as normal. In the past you had to wait for a hint from Facebook, but now there is a new upload tool in which you can have your subtitles created:

Once the video is uploaded, you have various options for creating the subtitle:

The steps are almost self-explanatory:

You first select the language in the video. Almost everything is really available. But now comes the big bad news: the function for automatically creating the subtitles is only active if you have an English video.

  • Automatically generate Facebook subtitles - here Facebook will automatically create the subtitle. As I said, currently in English. This usually only takes a few minutes.
  • Write Facebook subtitles - At this point you can write a subtitle yourself.
  • Upload Facebook subtitles - the upload works too, of course.

Write subtitles yourself

Even if there are currently no automatic subtitles available for German, that shouldn't stop you. You can use YouTube or you can quickly write the subtitles yourself. The tool for this has become very convenient over the last few years, because it now automatically recognizes where people are speaking, creates the appropriate markings and helps you a lot:

Ideally, you should have completed the subtitles in a few minutes.

Step 2 - customize the subtitle

The subtitles are created automatically and are therefore far removed from professionally created subtitles (whether on Facebook or YouTube). They are better than no subtitles at all, but you should still tweak them.

It's not just about the meaning or wrong words, you should also make sure that punctuation marks and breaks are correct. If your video has other audio elements that are critical for the meaning of the video, then you should also add these in the subtitle. For example, if there is a knock on the door, it won't show up in Facebook's automatic captions. You would then have to add [Knock, Knock] or something similar yourself.

You see, it is still a bit of work, but then there are hardly any excuses why you put videos without subtitles on Facebook.

Biggest problem: the automatic tool only works in English

Well, maybe there is still an excuse, because the Facebook tool only works in English. We have uploaded a German video as a test:

In Jan Böhmermann's video, Jan says something like “Ladies and gentlemen, I'll make espresso for tonight. I didn't sleep much ... ”- in the Facebook tool it becomes“ Head ”.

That means you can use the tool directly for English videos, but unfortunately not yet for German videos - as mentioned at the beginning. Unfortunately, we do not know when the tool will also work in German.


The fact that the function only works in English so far is not a real excuse, as long as you can simply generate your subtitles on YouTube. We have here is a tutorial for that and it only takes a few minutes longer than on Facebook.

And now in plain language: with up to 95% videos without sound, there is really no, so no excuse at all for posting videos without subtitles.

Yes it is effort, yes it is a bit of a hassle, yes you run into problems sometimes, but you just have to go through it. It's not really Facebook's job to do all of the work for you and provide you with perfect subtitles. This is your job so that your customers understand what is happening in the video. It is nice if it can be made a little easier with Facebook, but it is and will remain your job.

Note: This post first appeared in January 2017 and has since been updated.