Is accessibility part of your social media strategy?

Is accessibility part of your social media strategy?

Before weaving social media into your marketing strategy, consider that some customers will not be able to understand your message.

For example, anyone with limited vision who is using a screen reader often has difficulty navigating social media due to a lack of headers, no keyboard shortcuts, no alternate (alt) text for images, or poor colour contrast.

Social media is a powerful tool that is changing how businesses and governments share information and deliver services. In order to create effective social media marketing, you need to ensure that your material is able to easily reach a lot of people. Without considering accessibility as part of your social media strategy, you miss out on connecting with your full audience.

Luckily, there are many simple ways you can improve the accessibility of your social media marketing.

How do emojis impact accessibility?

Emojis are undeniably fun.

It’s estimated that 92% of online consumers are using emojis. So, it makes sense that we’re starting to see brands incorporate them into their social media posts as well. Emojis are visually impactful, however, they can cause confusion for those who use screen readers or who have low vision.

Here are three tips on how to incorporate emojis in a way that still makes them accessible to your audience:

  1. Use emojis sparingly
  2. Be considerate about where you’ll put emojis in the post
  3. Consider the contextual meaning of the emoji

If you’re not sure if the post you made is easy for everyone to understand, go a level deeper by running it through a screen reader to truly see how emojis are impacting your message. Adding this process to your social media strategy will help

Context shouldn’t be complex

Another reason why brands should use emojis sparingly is because they can be really hard to tell them apart. Tiny, yet different, faces on a screen can look incredibly similar to most people at first glance. If your vision isn’t 100% then it could be really hard to know what kind of feeling is being expressed.

Finally, it’s important to recognize that emojis are sometimes used in weird and evolving ways. For example, if you’re trying to say something subtly by using an emoji, your message could become completely lost to people who don’t know they might be code for something unrelated.

Does formatting impact the accessibility of social media?

Yes.

In March 2020, most brands had a flurry of important announcements going out on different social channels about how they were responding to the pandemic. If you weren’t able to read responses on social media it would have been challenging to stay informed and up to date on what was happening.

Many brands inadvertently ended up excluding some of their customers from important announcements and conversations as they were happening in real-time due to poor formatting.

Below are three formatting tips that will help ensure your social media posts are able to keep everyone in the loop.

1) Emojis Bullet points

Don’t use bullet point emojis. This is something I’ve personally done a lot in the past when running paid ads. The problem is that someone who is visually impaired won’t understand that the emoji is doing double duty as a bullet point, and it will sound really strange when read aloud on a screen reader.

2) Less is more

Always opt to make your social media posts and graphics as simple as you can.

If you need to write a message that is really long you should drop a link somewhere in the post so that people can access your full statement in a readable format.

Text on a social media graphic should make you feel like you’re reading a billboard instead of a legal contract. If there’s more you need to say, but you don’t have the character count to do it, then point people to where they can access all information via screenreader (wordy images won’t do the trick).

3) No yelling

Finally, when formatting your social media posts for accessibility you should try to avoid writing anything in all caps. Apart from the fact that it’s meant to sound like yelling, it’s also challenging for people with dyslexia to read.

How will accessibility impact social media in 2021?

Earlier this year I placed my bets and said that in 2021 accessibility will become more important than SEO. As someone who worked as an SEO for two years, this was a concept that took me a while to get behind.

The value of having strong search rankings is undeniable. However, people often look at you with confusion when you tell them they need to update their marketing with metadata that will make search engines happy. No one wants to serve robots they can’t see.

People are much keener to get behind the idea that marketers update their processes and tactics to help their audience.

Alexa spells it out pretty clearly in the post above. Accessibility should impact your marketing policies, best practices and overarching strategies.

It’s gaining momentum. Below is a great example of how large brands, like McDonald’s, are embracing accessibility in social media and making it creative.

Accessibility will impact every aspect of social media moving forward. Making the effort to be inclusive is not a 2021 marketing trend that is going away.

By Christine

Hi, I'm Christine. I'm a public speaker & marketing professional with a specialization in digital strategy. I live and breathe all things content & marketing. In my previous positions, I've done everything from rebranding companies, launching new SaaS products, writing sales copy, and developing long-term SEO & social strategies. I believe that quality communication and measurable results are the key to every digital marketing strategy.