Adding Alt Text on Instagram into Your Strategy: The Why and How

Adding Alt Text on Instagram into Your Strategy

Alt text options have been around the internet long before Instagram released the feature in November of 2018, but its use on the app has become a staple for business accounts. The rise in accessibility features like alt text means that users with visual impairments can enjoy the app – and that brands can expand the reach of their content.

What Is Alt Text on Instagram?

Like its use on other sites, alternative text has two primary purposes:

  1. It gives audiences who are visually impaired or using a screen reader information about what is in an Instagram image.
  2. It tells Instagram users what an image contains when the internet is too slow to load the complete photo.

The feature is mainly used for accessibility. In fact, even if you do not enter your own alt tags, Instagram uses image recognition to identify what is in an image and produce a description.

Though Instagram will write alt text for you, the object recognition technology won’t offer the same potential for social growth you could explore with your own alt tags. It’s best to do the backend work to get the most out of your social media account, but alt text isn’t vital for every Instagram strategy.

Using Alt Text for Old & New Posts

Instagram makes it easy to use alt text in previous posts you’ve already made live and upcoming posts, which means that you can apply them to every post, even if you’re just finding out about them now..

If you want to edit alt text in an existing Instagram post, access the photo, click “Edit,” in the top right corner, and apply the text there. You can also add alt text in real-time on new posts by visiting Advanced Settings before uploading.

The Benefits of Using Instagram’s Alt Text

Aside from its importance as an accessibility feature, making your own alt text can support your brand growth on the app in a few different ways.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

When done effectively – as you’ll see described below – alt tags can aid in a successful Instagram SEO strategy. Most likely, your digital marketing already includes SEO outside of social media. By extending this to your Instagram account, you can further your appearance in searches overall and on the app.

Hitting Your Niche Market

When your Instagram photos and captions include relevant keywords to your niche, the algorithm recognizes that content as relating to your target audience and niche. With that, you can gain better access to that market, potentially giving you a slight advantage over  competitors who haven’t discovered alt text yet.

Improving Discoverability

Along those lines, alt tags can help you meet your target audience on Instagram and other social media platforms. The Instagram app and others like it use the alt text feature to comb through content, so they can better serve audiences the media they want to see. By including alt tags that fit within your niche, you’re more likely to get in front of your target audience via discover tools like “Suggested for You,” the Reels page, and more.

Best Practices for Writing Alt Text

Because alt text is used not just as a helpful tool for discoverability but also for accessibility purposes, it’s essential to find the line between generating relevant tags and staying accurate to the imagery. With that, there are a few best practices for alt text you add to Instagram posts – and likewise to your other digital content, in and off social media.

1. Stay Relevant

Again, relevance is of the utmost importance for your alt tags. Instead of getting too tricky, stick to descriptive alt text that will convey what the image shows to audiences with visual impairments. For example, your image description should offer the most important part of the photo, the action or activity, color, or anything else you might tell someone if they asked what the image included.

2. Keep it Short

Though good alt text includes details about the image, it should still be short and sweet. If you have something more extensive to say, save it for your Instagram caption – stick to an alt text of under 100 characters. Additionally, avoid using hashtags or starting with “Picture of…,” or “Image of…,” just go straight to the description.

3. Include Keywords

Follow the same SEO strategy you use outside social media within your Instagram alt text. The Instagram algorithm values keywords just as much as sites outside of social media do. Whether you’re a small business or a larger organization, your alt tags can amplify your SEO strategy and your Instagram strategy simultaneously.

4. Incorporate Branding

Marrying your social media marketing efforts and your brand marketing strategy is a no-brainer, and that should encompass all the details, including alt text. By adding a touch of your brand within your alt text, whether your brand name, location, or something else, you can extend branding into the minute areas of your Instagram marketing.

Explore a Superior Instagram Strategy

As Instagram expands its features, you have more choices – and more challenges – in developing a brand strategy on the app. Choosing a game plan means understanding how those additional features affect your approach, if you need to incorporate them, and whether you can use them to improve your digital presence for increased growth.

Our experience in digital marketing gives us the tools and knowledge to adapt to new features, app changes, and the ever-evolving era of social media, allowing our brands to experience the benefits. Explore how a partnership with First Media can help you grow your brand with exclusive strategies designed for you.