The Most Underrated Instagram Feature You're Probably NOT Using

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Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms with over 1 billion monthly active users.

Chances are, you’ve either jumped on the bandwagon or have at least thought about it. Maybe you haven’t joined because you feel like you’re late to the party. Valid. With over 95 million new uploads a day, it’s not unreasonable to feel lost in the noise.

But what if I let you in on a new Instagram feature virtually no one’s using? A feature that will help you stand out from the crowd, reach an untapped audience, appease the algorithm gods and takes only seconds to set up.

I’m talking about the Instagram alt text feature.

At the end of 2018, Instagram launched a new feature to make the app more accessible to visually impaired audiences.

With more than 285 million people in the world who have visual impairments, we know there are many people who could benefit from a more accessible Instagram.
— Instagram

You may be wondering why this matters. Of course, I’m going to tell you.

As the Internet continues to mature, it gets smarter. We’re seeing algorithms adjust heavily for ADA compliancy. It’s as if Google, Facebook, Amazon and all the other web heavy hitters sat down together and asked, “Okay, how can we make the Internet more accessible for impaired audiences.”

When a person with a visual impairment interacts with Instagram, a screen reader reads the content aloud to them. What the alt text feature does is allow you to fill this in for the end user, otherwise AI is used to give a vague description of the image.

Taking a few seconds to fill out the alt text feature is the difference between the end user hearing, “a man in a room,” and “ Portland real estate agent Oliver Jackson showing a new 2 bedroom 2 bath downtown listing to a young couple.”

Not only have you just provided a delightful experience to a new audience member but you’re attaching that description to the image as well.

In this day and age, the best companies embrace diversity and disability. Every customer they’re not reaching is a customer they’re losing.

A few do’s and don’ts of the alt text feature

DO start using the feature today. As we know, digital marketing takes time to build. Implement this strategy today as a simple way to get ahead of the curve.

DON’T keyword stuff your images. Keyword stuffing has been a big SEO no-no since the beginning. Use keywords where it makes sense or risk being penalized.

DO use descriptive keywords. Use your keywords to enhance the description of the image. Rather than saying something like, “Patricia Newman leaning against a balcony rail.” Say, “Real estate agent Patricia Newman leaning against an oceanview balcony of the Miami skyline.”

DON’T add long-winded descriptions. Instagram caps the description at 100 characters. Keep it short, sweet and rich in visual imagery.

DO think about the end user. What’s in the photo? What would the viewer focus in on? Make it descriptive and tell them exactly what’s there.

DON’T stop there. Think about other ways you can make other areas of your web presence ADA compliant.

Research is still out on the exact benefits of utilizing the alt text feature but it can’t hurt to be one of the few who masters this easy Instagram strategy first.

How to add Alt Text to an Instagram photo

Adding alt text to an Instagram photo is a fairly simple process.

Photo courtesy of  Instagram

Photo courtesy of Instagram

Step 1: On a new post, tap ‘Advanced Settings’

Step 2: Tap ‘Write Alt Text’

Step 3: Tap ‘Write Alt Text…’ next to the photo and write your description

Step 3: When finished, tap ‘Done’ at the top right corner of the screen

Step 4: Tap the back arrow ‘ < ‘ in the left corner of the window to return to posting your photo

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