It’s no secret that social media channels are doubling down on the pivot to multimedia content. Instagram Reels and TikToks dominate our feeds, and Twitter Blue has unlocked longer video embeds for subscribers. Text posts are out, and slideshows and videos are in.
With the increasing popularity of non-text content, it's essential to consider how to maximize the impact of the images and videos you post. One often-overlooked way to grow your content’s reach is to make it accessible to all viewers.
Twitter and Instagram now offer the ability to add alt text to images, a simple and essential step that all content creators should take whenever they share images. Individuals with visual impairments use screen readers to navigate the internet; without alt text, the screen reader cannot interpret the image. At present, alt text inclusion is not automatic within the major social media platforms — whoever is posting needs to take an extra step to ensure it’s added. If you find yourself uploading lots of screenshots and text-heavy images, a tool like Google Lens, which can scan an image to extract its text, could be of help. Ultimately, the lack of alt text leads to a less enjoyable and non-inclusive user experience for viewers.
Not only does alt text improve accessibility for screen reader users, but it also significantly impacts SEO. Search engines use alt text to understand the content of an image, making it an essential factor in the ranking of your website or social media post. When you include accurate alt text, you’ll be rewarded for making your content more inclusive with increased visibility and reach for your content.
Another easy step you can take to improve the accessibility of your social media posts is to add captions to all videos. TikTok automatically generates captions for videos and offers a robust suite of custom caption tools if a creator prefers to write their own text. Following TikTok’s lead, Instagram Reels now allows social media managers to opt-in to automatic caption generation, a feature you should always avail yourself of unless you have embedded the captions directly in the video.
Twitter currently requires users to upload their captions through an SRT file. Creating an SRT file is free and easy using tools like Compressor for macOS or SubRip for Windows.
As a bonus, video captions will help your content perform better overall, as viewers without hearing impairments also frequently opt to watch videos on silent. Viewers in a setting where they don’t want to be disruptive (e.g. they’re keeping an eye on a napping toddler) will appreciate that you added captions.
Accessibility in Graphic Design
During the design production phase, incorporate accessible design practices into your content. There are internationally accepted standards known as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to help social media managers and graphic designers ensure their images and videos are easily interpreted by as many viewers as possible.
The two main areas of concern are text ratio and color contrast. When you choose a text color and background color, take care to not include colors that are too similar, as users with visual impairments might struggle to differentiate between shades of the same color. You should also ensure text is a readable size when used against less visually contrasting backgrounds. Depending on where you work, WCAG compliance might not just be best practice, but a legal requirement. Thankfully, a bevy of available tools allows you to determine if your content meets WCAG standards quickly.
Incorporating alt text, captions, and accessible design standards into your social media and website content should be a top priority for brands of all sizes. Taking these steps not only improves accessibility and user experience but also enhances the SEO and overall reach. If you’re unsure of where to start in making your content more accessible, book a call with our strategists today. We’re more than happy to help.