Alt Text: what is it and how do I use it?

Jan 21, 2022

Blue, yellow and grey graphic with text 'Using Alt Text' enlarged with a magnifying glass.

Here at Social Progress we’re seeing more and more people using Alternative text (or ‘Alt Text’ as it’s mainly referred to online) alongside their social media content – you may have seen it on Twitter and Instagram, but do you know what it means?

In short, it allows you to add a description to an image that’s short and succinct and is used when an image can’t be viewed or won’t load. It’s one of the easiest ways to make a website more accessible and appear higher in search engines but it’s not always easy to master. So, as social media experts, we’re here to help!

We think probably the most important use of alt text is to increase accessibility. When someone visually impaired is using a screen reader, the alt text is what is read to them via the software they use – when you use alt text your content, brand and business becomes so much more accessible to an even wider audience!

We all know alt text can be useful for websites and their ranking on Google, but did you know you can also use alt text on social media?

Here are our tops tips on using alt text:

  • Say What You See

Use text that’s short yet descriptive. Imagine that you can’t see the image, what would you need to know? Don’t repeat anything obvious, think about how you’d describe the image over the phone in a few words, which is all you need. Some screen readers cut off after 125 characters, so bear this in mind.

If there’s text within the image, it can be useful to include it, but only if it’s crucial to the image content.

  • Don’t Say ‘A Photo Of…’

It’s pretty obvious when alt text is being used in place of an image, so there’s no need to say what it is. Instead, it’s far more beneficial to use the characters to describe. For example, rather than saying “a photo of Huddersfield” say “a landscape of Huddersfield”.

  • #CapitaliseYourHashtags

We all love a hashtag (especially at Social Progress) and know that they are important for you to increase your reach, but make sure you capitalise each word. Screen readers use capital letters to interpret each word within a hashtag, otherwise it looks and reads like one big word, making it harder for visually impaired audiences to understand.

Want to have a go at including alt text on your own social media content? Here are simple ways you can do that for each platform:

Twitter – After uploading media, click on “add description” which will take you to the alt text section

Instagram – Click on advanced settings and find “write alt text”

Facebook – Under the photo edits you’ll find an alternative text section

LinkedIn – Immediately after uploading media, look for the alt text option underneath the media

And if you need a little nudge to remind you to include alt text in your tweets, then it’s worth taking a look at @AltTxtReminder. We found it useful for our own Social Progress Twitter feed for a little while, until we got in to the habit of including alt text to our tweets.

And if you need additional help don’t forget that Social Progress are here; whether it’s digital marketing, social media training or putting an online strategy in place, we can help you achieve those short and long-term goals! Contact a member of the Social Progress team on 01484 506336 or at