9 tips for making your social media posts more accessible
Social media is a powerful tool for businesses if used correctly. It is essential that you are able to engage with your audience effectively to maximise the opportunity that digital online content presents. Therefore, it is crucial that your posts are accessible to everyone. Here are 9 tips for making your social media more accessible.
1. Format hashtags correctly
So that accessibility software such as screen readers can pronounce your hashtag correctly, use capital letters at the start of each word within your hashtag. For example:
It also makes it easier to read for everyone. In addition, put hashtags at the end of what you want to say instead of in the middle of a sentence.
2. Use full stops when abbreviating
If you are abbreviating something into a few letters, put a full stop in between each letter. For example:
Central Intelligence Agency is abbreviated to CIA.
Write this as C.I.A.
This will help screen readers to know that it’s not a word and to spell out each letter.
3. Add alt text and image descriptions
Social Media is a very visual medium, adding image descriptions will help your images be accessible for everyone. Each social media platform is different in the way it allows you to do this.
Facebook uses artificial intelligence (A.I.) to describe photos to blind and visually impaired people. However, it is not always accurate.
You can override what Facebook puts and add your own alt text to ensure that your image is accurately described. You can find details of how to do this on the Facebook Help Centre web page.
This feature is only available on a computer or iOS device and is limited in the number of characters you can use. To further assist your audience in accessing your content you could also include image descriptions in the body of the post.
Write what you wish to say on your post and then underneath write “Image description…” or “This photo shows…”, just as you would with alt text on your website.
You could say that Instagram is the most visual of all the platforms and so without alt text or image descriptions it would be extremely hard for everyone to access your content and interact with you.
Instagram also uses A.I., similar to Facebook, to describe images on its platform.
However, to ensure that your pictures are accurately described you also have the option to add alt text yourself.
Before pressing ‘share’ and uploading your image in the Instagram app, click ‘Advanced Settings’, you will then have an option to add your alt text.
If you want to add alt text to an image that is already uploaded you can do this by clicking to edit the picture, and you will then see ‘Add Alt Text’ appear in the bottom right-hand corner of your image. Click on this to add your description.
You can also add descriptions to the body of your post in the same way as suggested above for Facebook.
Twitter has a setting that can easily be enabled to allow you to describe your image, although there is a character limit of 420. When a screen reader detects an image description, it will read it out loud.
To find out more about this feature and enable it on your account, read this article on the Twitter blog.
4. Transcribe memes and GIFs
Memes and GIFs can be difficult for individuals who are visually impaired. To make these posts more accessible include a description of them in the body of your post. For example: “This meme shows…”
5. Don’t overuse emojis
Screen reading software will read out what the emoji is depicting. Remember this when using them, as using one or even two scream face emojis may be ok. Using nine of them will mean that the screen reading software will be saying “Scream. Scream. Scream. Scream……” over and over again.
Be mindful when using emojis as part of your post.
6. Vary your content in stories
Screen readers will not read text or images for stories on your social media platform. Mix up your content so that your audience has the opportunity to engage with you through other mediums such as video.
7. Caption your videos
Whether you are posting a video to Facebook or on YouTube, use captions so that individuals with hearing impairment can access your content.
For Instagram, you can caption your stories using apps such as Cliptomatic.
Facebook allows you to add your own captions for a video manually. Read this post on the Facebook Help Centre for information on how to do so.
Alternatively, Facebook will automatically generate captions for Business Pages. Find out more in this post on the Facebook Help Centre web page. However, be aware that automatically generated captions may not be accurate so always review them to ensure they are correct.
YouTube also enables you to add subtitles, closed captions and use automatic captioning. You can get directions on how to do this in this Google article.
YouTube also lets you utilise your community of viewers to help you subtitle and caption your videos in multiple languages. To find out more about how this works check out this Google article.
Twitter does not yet support closed captioning so you will need to embed your subtitles into your video before uploading.
LinkedIn allows you to add captions to your video manually in a similar way to Facebook. Find out how to do this on LinkedIn’s Help page.
8. Describe links
If you are going to embed a link within your social media post, don’t just write ‘click here’. It’s much more helpful to write ‘check out this Google article for more info’.
9. Where do your links go?
If you have a hyperlink in your social media post, indicate what type of resource it leads to by adding [PIC], [VIDEO] or [AUDIO], so screen reader users can anticipate what they will find when they follow the link.
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