It doesn’t matter how long you spend crafting those words, graphics and videos. If you don't make your social content accessible, you're missing out on a huge chunk of your potential audience.
Why? Because 19% of working-age adults have a disability. And content that fails to consider these needs can be impossible for many people to consume.
Add in the people who need accessible content for other reasons – creaky broadband, a tiny phone screen or no audio being the most common – and it’s clear that lots of people are being left out.
The good news: there are loads of easy ways to make your social content more accessible.
Images: add alt text
Alt text is the copy you provide to let screen readers know what’s in your image. It’s what will be read out loud to people with a visual impairment.
If it sounds complicated, you're doing it wrong. All you have to do is write what you see.
Top tip: You don’t need to include the words ‘photograph of’ or ‘image of’. Screen readers have that bit covered.
Videos: add closed captions
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is the go-to for web accessibility standards. Its guidelines on captions are clear – if your video includes speech, you need closed captions. What do we mean by closed? They’re the type of captions you can turn on and off. Open captions, or ‘burnt on subtitles’ stay on all the time.
At the moment, you can only add closed captions to videos on LinkedIn and Facebook. For other platforms, you’ll need to add captions to your videos before you upload them.
There’s one exception: if you’re one of the lucky few to have access to Twitter’s Media Studio, you can also add closed-caption (.SRT) files there. You can create these manually, but we prefer to use the YouTube software.
Top tip: Posting vlog style content to your Instagram stories? Make it accessible with makeshift captions created using Insta’s native text tools.
Hashtags: use title case
All-one-case hashtags are a bad idea. Full stop. Best case scenario: your audience stares at it for a while trying to figure out where to put the word breaks. Worst case: they give up, or put the gaps in the wrong place altogether.
For people with dyslexia or cognitive disabilities, or those who rely on screen readers, the problem is even bigger. Screen reader software will think the hashtag is a word, then try to read it out. This will sound horrible.
To make your hashtags accessible, #WriteThemLikeThis – with a capital at the beginning of each word. This simple trick adds no time at all to your process, and reaches a whole load of additional people.
Emojis: employ sparingly
Screen readers automatically read emojis aloud. ‘Cry. Cry. Cry. Cry’.
This can really take the poetry out of a well-crafted post.
When it comes to emojis, use the tequila shot rule: one at a time. Otherwise things get messy.
Links: go short
Leaving a screen reader to tackle a full-length URL can quickly go a bit Pete Tong.
Instead, use a link shortener. This limits the characters the screen reader has to read aloud. As a bonus, it also saves precious writing space (particularly helpful for Twitter’s 240-character limit, or when you need to publish a URL in print). It also sharpens the way your feed looks.
Give yourself a chance
Making your content accessible is the right thing to do. It’s also easy, and opens your content up to a wider audience. What are you waiting for?