Most social marketers would jump at the opportunity to increase the reach of their campaigns by 26%. By following the best practices of accessible design, you can do exactly that — and find new opportunities to build a positive brand image.
About 1 in 4 American adults have some type of disability. Accessible social media practices help to make content perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust enough to function on any device, ensuring that your audience can appreciate (and engage with) your posts.
Here’s a closer look at the impact of accessibility on social media along with a few tips for creating stronger campaigns.
Why Accessibility is Important for Social Media
In a 2018 survey, nearly 97 percent of Fortune 500 companies said that they use at least one social media platform to communicate with customers and investors. 90% of respondents had active Facebook accounts, while 79% had a presence on Twitter.
For these enterprises, the benefits of a well-developed social presence are obvious: 55% of consumers learn about new brands via social channels, and 78% of consumers say that they’re willing to buy from a company after having a positive experience on social media.
The key phrase is “positive experience.” If customers, investors, or potential employees have a negative experience, they’re unlikely to advocate for a particular brand. People with disabilities are a part of your audience, and by some estimates, they’re a sizable proportion: One 2018 study of Facebook users found that more than 30% of respondents reported difficulty in at least one of these areas: seeing, hearing, speaking, organizing thoughts, walking, or grasping with their hands.
Accessibility improves social media experiences for everyone
When you prioritize accessibility, you avoid leaving these people out of the conversation. Just as importantly, accessibility can improve the experiences of all users — regardless of their abilities — in several important ways:
- Accessible posts cut down on confusion. When you write with clear, concise language, your readers understand your message.
- Adding captions to videos improves your reach. One study performed by Facebook found that ads with captions had an increased video view time by an average of 12 percent.
- Accessible use of color helps your audience perceive your posts in a wide variety of environments. Using appropriate color contrast ratios accommodates people with color vision deficiencies — as well as social media users who access your content in bright sunlight.
- Using inclusive language can enhance your brand’s image and help you build a base of brand advocates.
Nearly every social media platform has built-in features and tools to improve accessibility. As a marketer, you’ll simply need to use those resources — and understand the principles of accessible design.
Building Accessible Social Media Campaigns
We’ve written detailed articles explaining how to create accessible content on the most popular social media platforms. For guidance on a specific platform, read:
- Becoming More Accessible on Facebook
- Becoming More Accessible on Instagram
- Becoming More Accessible on LinkedIn
- Becoming More Accessible on Twitter
In general, the best way to adopt an accessible mindset is to think about your entire audience when creating content. Every decision could potentially impact users with disabilities.
Fortunately, the principles of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are straightforward, and by using these concepts when writing posts, you’ll be able to avoid common mistakes.
Per WCAG, content must be:
- Perceivable: Users can comprehend the information being depicted, regardless of the technology they use to access your content.
- Operable: Users can navigate and interact with your content.
- Understandable: Content is readable and predictable, with input assistance to help users avoid and correct mistakes. For example, hyperlinks should have clear text explaining where they lead.
- Robust: Content maximizes compatibility with current and future user agents, including screen readers and other assistive technologies.
When building campaigns, ask questions to determine whether your posts fulfill these principles. For example, if you’re including a graphic with your post, ask whether your readers will understand the content with the graphic removed.
Get into the habit of thinking about your entire audience, and you’ll find plenty of opportunities for improvement. Are you providing alternative text for every image? Do your hyperlinks have descriptive text? If a person accesses your post with a screen reader, what will they hear — and what steps could you take to improve their experience?
Making Digital Accessibility a Priority
Finally, make sure that you’re prioritizing accessibility in all of your brand’s digital content. Ensure that websites and mobile apps meet WCAG’s Level AA guidelines and publish an accessibility statement outlining your commitment to users with disabilities. When your brand focuses on accessibility and inclusivity, everyone benefits.
For more guidance, contact the Bureau of Internet Accessibility or get a free graded accessibility report to see how your website stacks up against WCAG 2.1 Level AA guidelines.