The Power of Accessible Social Media Content

The Power of Accessible Social Media Content

By Meghan Shaffer

Close up on three people's hands. Each person has a smart phone in their hand.

Accessibility in Social Media

Priorities may vary when developing a social media plan, but the main goals tend to remain the same: create content that is engaging, easy to understand and share and accurately tells your client’s story. However, there’s another aspect you should consider. It’s more important than ever that posts are accessible to all users. This ensures that your content reaches a broader audience and shows a conscious effort to be inclusive—71% of people with disabilities leave a website immediately if it is not accessible.

What is accessibility?

Accessibility, in the context of social media, refers to making your content easy to read, understand and interact with for all users, including those with disabilities. Disabilities can be visual, auditory, cognitive or related to other impairments. To create accessible social media content, it’s important to consider various aspects of your posts, including text, images and videos.

Why is it important to make my content accessible?

When you post accessible social media content, you open the door to a larger and more diverse audience. By making your content accessible to people with disabilities, you increase the number of people who can see, understand and share your content. Accessibility, in turn, helps the engagement and reach of posts. Well-structured content that is easy to read benefits all users, not just those with disabilities. For example, 80% of people who use captions aren’t deaf or hard of hearing. Captions help with comprehension of dialogue, clarification of terminology, concentration, and engagement.

How can I make my posts more accessible?

Alt Text for Photos

Whether you’re posting a group of people, a scenic landscape, or a text post photo, including alternative text (alt text) conveys the content and purpose of the image. Alt text is a written description that helps impaired individuals understand the content of the image. It shows up differently on various platforms but can usually be found in the settings of social platforms. Sprout Social provides a step-by-step guide on how to access alt text features.

All popular social platforms offer alt text when drafting posts that include photos. Another perk of including alt text in your posts is it may improve your SEO (search engine optimization,) because the written text provides context to what an image is displaying. Harvard University provides a comprehensive list of resources about including alt text for complex images, and resources to check your work.

Captioning Videos

Luckily, many social platforms have adopted auto-generated captions. While this is a great start, make sure to do your own proofreading and editing to ensure the information is accurate. Think of how many times you’ve been in a public place and a video has popped up while scrolling through your social media feed. Having captions allows anyone, anywhere to access your content with ease. See here for suggestions and technique guidelines.

Use Camel Casing Hashtags

When using hashtags, capitalize the first letter in each word, as a simple method to differentiate between the start and end of words (e.g., #AccessibilityMatters instead of #accessibilitymatters). For visually impaired individuals using screen readers, camel casing is crucial because screen readers do not naturally recognize the separation between words in a hashtag.

Keeping hashtags clear and concise allows for easy searching and prevents overly complex tags. The use of the camel casing method not only increases the chances of someone using or clicking your hashtag, but also avoids the chance of embarrassing formatting mistakes you can run into.

Clear and Readable Fonts and Colors

Using clear, legible fonts and making sure there is a stark contrast between your text and your background helps people with visual impairments and reading disabilities. This tool is a helpful resource for checking contrast and readability in your graphics. You can plug in the hex codes of colors you’re using in the foreground and background, and it lets you know if there is enough contrast, making sure your content is attention-grabbing but still digestible.

At first, these changes may seem overwhelming—especially if you’re used to typing out a thought and clicking post on your social platforms without a second thought. But creating accessible, digestible and shareable content is essential for developing an audience and building a following. Taking these few extra steps is worthwhile across the board. For more information and guidelines to follow, you can check out Sprout Social’s guide for accessibility here.

Devine + Partners is a public relations agency in Philadelphia. We offer a full range of communications services – from message and content development and media relations to issues management and employee and community engagement.

Meghan Shaffer

Meghan Shaffer