Why You Need to Be Using Alt Text for Instagram

Why You Need to Be Using Alt Text for Instagram

Author: Kenzie Elvington, PREM-Intern

Have you heard of Alt Text? Wondering what it is? PREM is here to answer all of your questions because let us tell you, you NEED to start implementing this on your Instagram posts!

Although a majority of the population has vision or is able to correct their vision with glasses, millions of people in the United States have a visual impairment or are legally blind. According to a 2016 article by the National Institutes of Health, the visually impaired and legally blind community is expected to double to over 8 million by 2050. With today’s technological advancements people who have visual impairments are able to experience the same pleasures as the rest of us: this includes alt text. Alt text is the tool used to describe an image through screen readers (on social media platforms). Utilizing alt text on social media such as Instagram can help you reach a larger audience and improve your SEO (hint, hint!).

In order to maximize your alt text and SEO, you have to manually add it in. This can be done to a new or an existing post. If you are going to post, you follow the normal steps of selecting a photo or video, however before hitting that “share” button you will tap “advanced settings” at the bottom. This is where you’ll find “write alt text”. If you would like to add it to an existing post, you tap on the post, then the 3 buttons at the top right corner and tap “edit”, then in the bottom right corner you will find “edit alt text”. If you want to check to see if someone else’s post has alt text, one way to do that is to turn your screen reader on.

When it comes to formatting alt text, here are a few guidelines to follow:

  • Be specific and brief when describing what is happening in a photo: general rule is to be 100 characters or less (including spacing)
  • Describe the scene and it’s best to not begin with wording such as “picture of…” and “photo of…”
  • Don’t try to overflow your alt text with what you believe to be “key words or phrases”, but still make sure to be specific. By simply describing the image you will help those who are visually impaired as well as your SEO


Alt-text with no context:

  • A mostly empty field.

Alt-text on a page about animals:

  • Green field with mountains and brown and white and black and white cows.

Alt-text on page about weather:

  • Green field with snowy mountains and grey sky.

Like we always say when a social platform has a feature, USE IT. They will reward you. It’s another step but you will be rewarded in the end.