Social media is great for companies and great for customers. It creates a ton of brand loyalty and gives organisations direct access to their customers. It’s a win-win. Social media also gives some users the chance to communicate in a way that may be difficult or even impossible in person.
Unfortunately, social media is not immune to accessibility issues. If your posts are not easy to read or understand, then your followers are just going to keep on scrolling.
Here are some simple changes that you can make to your social media text, images and videos to improve accessibility:
Start with your text
When it comes to making your social media captions more accessible our advice is clear: Keep it simple. Cut out all jargon unless it is necessary and use straightforward language. Sites like https://hemingwayapp.com/ can help you to simplify your writing – bear in mind that many websites aim for a reading age of eight years old.
Avoid capitalised and italic text, this is hard for some users to read.
Never rely on emojis to convey meaning. Older people may not understand them and screen readers may read them in a misleading way. ‘Loudly crying face’ might mean crying with laughter to you, but the screen reader will just see crying. With that in mind, it is always a good idea to double check the actual name of any emojis. Always add emojis at the end of your text rather than mid text and avoid repeating them.
When you add links make it clear where the link is taking people. Links named ‘Click Here’ are an accessibility nightmare.
Hashtags written in lower case can be hard to read and can lead to some muddled meanings. Make sure you always use capitals to separate the individual words. As with emojis, try to limit the number you use and add these at the end of your text.
Making your images more accessible
Adding an image to your social media posts is a great way to drive engagement – well they do say a picture paints a thousand words!
To make images accessible you need to add alternative text, often called alt text or alt tags. These short descriptions are added as metadata to the image and can be read by screen readers.
Alt text needs to be short but useful. To write great alt text, think about what purpose the image is actually serving – is it trying to say that the product is family friendly for example? The image is there for a reason, so try and think about what it is trying to convey.
You do not need to add ‘image of…’ or ‘picture of…’ in your alt text. The screen reader already knows that it is looking at an image.
Don’t forget videos also need to be accessible!
Videos are a great way to keep your followers engaged and entertained. To ensure that your videos are accessible for everyone, it is important to add captions. There are programmes that will do the majority of the captioning work for you. Also, sites like YouTube will caption any videos you upload. Beware though! While these are a great time-saver, they are rarely 100% accurate and you should always go back and edit.
Transcripts are different to captions. Transcripts do not appear on the video screen but they are designed to be read alongside the video. Descriptive transcripts include visual information as well as dialogue.
Audio Descriptions help visually impaired viewers to enjoy and understand videos. These descriptions tell viewers what is going on when there is no sound. Descriptions include things like landscapes or a character’s expression.
You can create audio descriptions in a separate file or you can create a second video with these added. Another more natural way of providing an audio description is to add them into the narrative. This is unlikely to work for stories but can work well for things like training videos.
We hope you enjoyed our roundup of accessibility tips to use on social media! If you’d like to stay up to date with the latest digital marketing tips, please sign up to our Creative Blend monthly newsletter – tons of inspiration, ZERO spam!