written by
Alan Richardson

How to create smaller video excerpts to promote your YouTube Videos

talotics.com 3 min read

I want to create smaller excerpts of my YouTube videos. I upload these small videos to Linkedin, Twitter and Instagram. And they will drive traffic to the main video on YouTube.

And I want to do that without any extra video editing.

Supporting Video

Short Videos for Social Media require Captions

Short videos work well on Instagram, and Linkedin, when people scroll through their feed.

Videos auto play when shown in the mobile feed.

But if you have a video with a talking head, people will see your mouth moving, but they won’t hear the audio. And that just looks silly.

I could upload a subtitle file to Linkedin, but I’d have to edit that for each excerpt. Or, I can use hard captions, “burned in”, to the video to avoid that problem.

I use ffmpeg to help with this. The software is free and runs from the command line. Although, that can make it seem quite complicated.

ffmpeg is multi-platform free software that you can download from https://www.ffmpeg.org/.

Commands and Workflow Explained

Let me walk you through the workflow I use for taking a YouTube video, with subtitles, and converting it into smaller videos with the subtitle text burned in.

  • YouTube video
  • Video has subtitles file
  • Download files
  • Use FFMPEG to burn in subtitles
  • Use FFMPEG to format video to different sizes
  • Use FFMPEG to extract sections

Download the Video and Subtitles

Here’s a video on YouTube. It’s only four minutes long, but I can easily re-purpose this and get three or four short videos. I can then promote those shorter videos on Linkedin, Twitter and Instagram.

First I download the mp4 file.

And I download the subtitle file in srt format.

Create a .ass subtitle file

I’ll use ffmpeg to generate a different format of subtitle file so I can burn it on to the video.

ffmpeg -i captions.srt captions.ass

Burn the subtitles to the video

I burn the subtitles on to the video using the subtitles filter. All of this goes on one line at the command prompt.

ffmpeg -i video.mp4  -vf 
Outline=1,Shadow=0,MarginV=20'" subtitled-video.mp4

Resize the video for Instagram

I also want to create a video resized for Instagram. I can use the scale filter from ffmpeg to do that.

ffmpeg -i video.mp4 -vf 
pad=720:720 instagram-sized.mp4

I can burn in the subtitles for this video as well.

ffmpeg -i instagram-sized.mp4 -vf 

Now I have a video which is perfect for uploading to Instagram. But it is too long. I need to cut it into smaller sections.

Identify Sections and Create videos for each

I want to create 3 new videos from my original. I watch the video to identify which sections I want. Each section starts from a point in the video and lasts for a specific length of time in seconds.

I’ve watched the video so I know I want sections from:

  • from 01:05 for 52 seconds
  • from 02:00 for 33 seconds
  • from 03:10 for 51 seconds

I can use ffmpeg to create those sections.

ffmpeg -i instagram-subs.mp4 
-ss 00:01:05 -t 00:00:52 instagram-01-05.mp4

That was for instagram, and took about 10 seconds. Now I have a fifty two second video, with subtitles, which is the right shape and length to upload to instagram.

Now I’ll create one for linkedin. The only differences are the input file and output file name.

ffmpeg -i subtitled-video.mp4 
-ss 00:01:05 -t 00:00:52 subtitled-01-05.mp4

If I repeat that for each of the segments, I’ll have three videos that I can upload to Linkedin, and three that I can upload to Instagram. All will have subtitles visible on the screen.


  • Free Software www.ffmpeg.org
  • Copy and Paste the commands
  • No need to edit the videos
  • No further need to edit the subtitles
  • Repurposed content means more value from your work

It may seem complicated, but if you copy and paste the commands and change the filenames and timings for your sections, you could easily be using Free software to repurpose your YouTube content on Linkedin, Instagram and other social networks.

And you can do this without having to do any more edits to the YouTube video or subtitles.

You can find the commands in an easy to copy and past format in this gist page

You can find more Digital Online Marketing Tactics at talotics.com