Leveraging Accessibility To Improve Your Social Media Strategy
Updated: April 6, 2021
Simply put, keeping accessibility in mind when you post content to social media is one of the easiest, no-brainer ways to expand your brand’s reach.
First of all, there are roughly 360 million people who are either deaf or have disabling hearing loss worldwide. An estimated 250 million are blind or have moderate to severe vision impairment. If your videos aren’t captioned, or if your images don’t have descriptions, you’re essentially excluding that population of over half a billion people whenever you post on social media.
Second, accessible content is just better content. Here’s why:
Adding alt text to images you post on your blog or website comes with complimentary SEO benefits. Aside from the fact that it’s the right thing to do because it makes images accessible to web surfers with visual impairments, adding alt text is also your opportunity to assign keywords to your image. Search engines will pick up on those keywords which increases the likelihood of your post showing up in search results and getting shared on social media (e.g. like infographics, GIFs, and other engaging visual content).
And when it comes to video, adding captions is one of the best practices you can apply to your social media marketing strategy. Keep these numbers in mind (based on an internal study done by Facebook):
- Captions increased view time on ads by 12%
- 41% of videos are incomprehensible without captions
- 85% of all Facebook videos are watched without sound
- 80% of people react negatively to videos in a newsfeed when the sound plays
Besides making video accessible to d/Deaf and hard of hearing viewers, captions can hold viewer attention longer and make videos watchable in noise-sensitive environments, like a city bus or anywhere else you would rather keep your phone on silent.
Adding Captions to Videos on Social Media
Many social networks, like Twitter and Instagram, do not currently enable closed captions (i.e. a feature that lets you turn them on or off). The workaround for this problem is to encode the captions into your video, which essentially creates a new version of the video with the caption text permanently “burned-in.” Facebook’s video platform, however, is much more robust and allows users to upload captions as a separate “sidecar” file.
Luckily, we’ve done the work already and have simple instructions for how to add captions to the 3 majorsocial media platforms for video: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
- How to Add Captions and Subtitles to Facebook Videos
- How to Add Captions and Subtitles to Instagram Videos
- How to Add Captions and Subtitles to Twitter Videos
As previously mentioned, image descriptions are a great way to both reach a wider audience of blind and low vision users, and to also increase your image’s SEO.
Here’s what alt-text looks like on a web page (using the HTML code from this post’s header image as an example):
<img style="margin: 0 0 15px 0;" src="/ui/images/a11y-social-media.jpg" alt="a cartoon water pail with the accessibility icon on the side waters a tree that sprouts social media 'like' and 'heart' icons and comment bubbles" />
alt and between the quotation marks is alt text.
All you really need to do is provide a basic, relevant description of the image as if you were describing it to someone over the phone. Some images, especially charts, graphs, and images with a lot of text will need more detailed descriptions. For a great overview of when and how to properly add alt text to images, check out WebAIM’s guide.
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