Why Instagram’s Accessibility Features Matter to Marketers

I’ll admit, accessibility updates aren’t sexy. Most Instagram users aren’t going to care that they can now add alt text to their photos. There are countless articles written about IG’s newest filters and stickers. The same can’t really be said of the latest accessibility update.

However, if you’re in the social media marketing game, accessibility should matter to you, and IG’s latest steps toward inclusivity for individuals with disabilities should make you excited.

Accessibility should matter to marketers. We specialize in creating memorable experiences for everyone who interacts with our brands, and that should be the same regardless of whether or not someone has a disability. #MichaelsWilder Click To Tweet

Why?

It’s simple. The more people who can use the app, the more people you can reach through your social media marketing campaigns. With over 285 million people in the world who suffer from some sort of visual impairment, Instagram saw a chance to reach a whole new audience, and they took it. And so should you.

Chances are, you have a number of customers who fall into that 285 million. Chances are, they’re used to living in a world that simply isn’t made for them. Now think of how much it means to them to for the world to open up to them, even in small ways like this.

It’s a game-changer.

That’s why accessibility should matter to marketers. We specialize in creating memorable experiences for everyone who interacts with our brands, and that should be the same regardless of whether or not someone has a disability.

Understanding IG’s Accessible Alternative Text Features

In November 2018, Instagram introduced an update that allows users to add alternative text to any images they upload to the photo-sharing app, making the app more accessible to visually impaired users. Not only that, but they announced that, in the absence of a custom-written description, IG’s object-recognition software would automatically generate one.

While the alt text will not be visible to users browsing their feed, it can be read aloud with specialized screen reader software used by people with visual impairments. So, when scrolling through the app, users with screen readers will now be able to hear an audio description of what’s on the screen.

Settings screens for alt text in Instagram

Unlike hashtag-packed photo captions, which appear under the images on your feed, alt text is meant to be more descriptive and factual. While “#TBT to girls’ trip to NYC! #squadgoals” might work fine for a photo caption, the alt text should be more practical. To add alt text to your images, you’ll need to navigate to the advanced settings. There, you can write a more useful description, such as “group of female friends at Empire State Building.”

In addition to giving more people an opportunity to use the app, the addition of alt text also matters to some other key “readers:” search engines. Search engines can now “read” the alt text to determine what is happening in the image and rank it for search. Adding relevant keywords to your alt text makes it more likely that your image will rank high in the search engine results.

While alt text might not be the most exciting new feature for the casual IG user, it makes a huge difference to those with visual impairments. It’s also a great opportunity for businesses and marketers to reach a new audience and improve their complete brand experience.


At Michaels Wilder, we’re committed to creating the best possible experience for each and every person who interacts with your brand. We build comprehensive social media strategies, creating and optimizing content for each individual platform to maximize your campaigns’ effectiveness. Give us a call to see what a Wilder approach can do for you.

Mike Speer Administrator
Chief Marketing Officer Michaels WIlder

Opinions are my own and not the views of my employer.

Chief Marketing Officer at Michaels Wilder and an entrepreneur since before the average person knew what that even meant, Mike has helped countless businesses build effective sales and marketing strategies. His philosophy is, “If you’re not thinking 10 years ahead, you’re already behind.” Mike’s content has appeared in Forbes Magazine, Inc. and Apple News. He has also been featured numerous times as a “Top 10 Writer” worldwide on the Q&A content site, Quora.

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Mike Speer Administrator
Chief Marketing Officer Michaels WIlder

Opinions are my own and not the views of my employer.

Chief Marketing Officer at Michaels Wilder and an entrepreneur since before the average person knew what that even meant, Mike has helped countless businesses build effective sales and marketing strategies. His philosophy is, “If you’re not thinking 10 years ahead, you’re already behind.” Mike’s content has appeared in Forbes Magazine, Inc. and Apple News. He has also been featured numerous times as a “Top 10 Writer” worldwide on the Q&A content site, Quora.

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