How To Make Your Instagram More Accessible

The Instagram logo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toward the end of 2018, Instagram made strides to make their platform more accessible for those who are visually impaired. This is important as more than 285 million people in the world have a visual impairment, and Instagram is one of the biggest platforms in the world.

Instagram has added two new ways for screen readers to read photos. They’ve added an automatic alternative text, which enables people to hear descriptions through their screen reader when a person uses their Instagram. The automatic alternative text uses object recognition technology to generate a description of the photo. Instagram has also introduced custom alternative text where you can go in and add your own description to your photos.

How To Add Alt Text When Uploading:

Alt text can be added to photos during the publishing step.

  1. After you select your filter, click on ‘Next.’
  2. Tap on Advanced Settings at the bottom of the screen.
  3. Tap ‘Write Alt Text’ and input a description of your photo. 

A screenshot of how to get to the Advanced Settings on Instagram.

A screenshot showing where to click, 'Write Alt Text,' on Instagram.

 

A screenshot showing a user where to write their alt text.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Add Alt Text To Existing Photos:

Alt text can also be added to existing photos in these easy steps.

  1. Go to a photo and select the three-dot menu icon and click on ‘Edit.’
  2. On the corner of your photo will be the words, ‘Alt Text.’ Click on it and then write your description

A screenshot of how to find 'Alt Text' on a Instagram photo you've published.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A screenshot that shows readers how to add alt text to their existing photos on Instagram.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


All and all, we believe it’s better to write your own text than rely on the automatic alt text, as your own written descriptions will likely be more accurate. 

How Are People Responding?

The alt text feature is still not present in Instagram Stories. The Royal National Institute of Blind People, a British nonprofit, tweeted congrats when the news broke on Twitter, but advised Instagram to make the feature work in Stories. Instagram Stories is just as popular as scrolling and exploring the platform. About 40% of the platform’s 1 billion users post to their Story every day

In the same article, a software engineer at the BBC, Louise Taylor, said they wished finding the alt text option was easier.

The other thing we wish could be changed is the number of characters you’re allowed to use. Right now, users have a 100 character limit on alt text. Maybe one day it will expand – until recently, Twitter had a 140 character limit. But now you can type up to 280 characters.

What Does Alt Text Mean For Businesses?

It is unclear for how long object identification has been around on Instagram, but there’s no denying it will be useful for advertising if it isn’t already.

Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, has had artificial intelligence-generated alternative text since April 2016.

When reporters asked an Instagram spokesperson why accessibility has taken so long, they replied the features have been “an ongoing project for some time.” They also added, “the challenge was ensuring that we could provide valuable descriptions at scale.” What this means is that while advanced artificial intelligence can recognize what’s in a photo, it has a hard time understanding what’s important. The spokesperson also addressed because Instagram is a very visual platform, this is why it took two and a half years longer than Facebook to roll out accessibility features.

Do you need help making your business’ online presence more accessible to those who are visually impaired? At Sperling Interactive, we build websites that are ADA compliant. Call us today to learn more about our company. 

The Different Types of Facebook Ads

A blog graphic for the different types of Facebook Ads.
Facebook is one of the premier places on the Internet to promote your business. Facebook offers a variety of ways to advertise. No matter what type of business you run, you are sure to have a way to reach to your targeted audience in the way they consume content. Read along to learn about the different types of ads you can run on Facebook.

Link Ads

Link ads are the most common type of ads. They are the ads most people think of when they think of Facebook ads. When you click on a link ad, you are brought to either a website or a curated landing page. This type of ad generally performs well and can help generate likes for your business Facebook page.

According to Facebook, “whether you want people to learn about your product, buy a ticket, or download an eBook, Facebook link ads are a great way to get people clicking to your website and visiting the pages you’d like them to see.”

Video Ads

As we’ve touched upon before here on the blog, video is the future of digital marketing. Video content can really bring your business to life. With this form of advertising, you don’t have to write a blurb or upload a photo. Video ads are a powerful way to tell your story, fuel engagement, bring visitors to your website, and increase leads.

Boosted Posts

Everytime you post content to your Facebook page, Facebook gives you the option to boost that post. When you boost a post, you pay to get more people to see that content. Your post essentially becomes an ad and you get to control the audience who sees it.

We recommend boosting your content every now and then as there is a decline in organic reach on Facebook. We suggest boosting content that you want to get in front of a large group of people, such as a testimonial, an upcoming event your company is hosting, or a special offer.   

Carousel Ads

The carousel ad allows you to showcase up to 10 images or videos within a single ad, and each image or video has its own link. This form of advertising works especially well for e-commerce stores, or if you’d like to promote several different offers for your business as it gives people a chance to see an array of your products.  

Dynamic Product Ads

These type of ads involve re-targeting people who have previously checked out your business. An example of this Facebook ad would be targeting a person who has been to your website before but hasn’t made an action yet, such as completing a form, signing up for your newsletter, buying a product, etc. You need to install Facebook Pixel to use this form of advertising.

Facebook Lead Ads

This type of ad is designed to help you get, you guessed it, more leads. What’s great about Facebook Lead Ads is it can get people to complete a call-to-action (sign up for an offer or download a piece of content) all without having to leave the Facebook app or website. Lead Ads gives you access to information about your leads. Once you have someone’s information, you can then sync them into your CRM system (customer relationship management system). This will allow you to follow up with them.  

Canvas Ads   

Canvas Ads are only available on mobile devices. With Canvas Ad, your target audience can swipe through a carousel of images, tilt the image in different directions, and zoom in or zoom out of the images. Canvas Ads load 10 times faster than standard mobile web applications. This is a great ad to use if yours is a product-based business or a visual business like a marketing agency or a lifestyle brand.

Collection Ads

This ad is only available for mobile devices and allows you to showcase multiple products that are being sold on your website. Collection Ads have become quite popular because more and more people are browsing Facebook through their mobile devices and it offers a seamless browsing experience.

Page Like Ads

Page Like Ads are the go-to ads for increasing the number of likes on your Facebook page. You may have seen a page like ad before. It’s an ad that shows pages your friends have liked. The ad encourages users to check out the page.

Page Post Photo Ads

This is another ad that can drive up likes and engagement on your Facebook Page. It’s your chance to give Facebook users information about you. According to Facebook, page post photo ads are a chance to “share updates and stories, connect with your followers and a new audience, and build your brand and customer base.”

Page Post Text Ads

This ad is the worst type of ad as it’s just text. As a result, it doesn’t get much engagement, likes, or leads. It underperforms because it doesn’t have much of an engaging element to it like a photo, video, or link based ad.

Mobile App Ads

If you have a mobile app and would like to grow it, Mobile App Ad is the type of ad to use. It gives people the opportunity to install your app from Facebook. You can get really specific with targeting. You can choose which iOS/Android version you want the user to have and if you want the target audience to be on a tablet or a smartphone.

Events Ads

This ad helps event organizers attract more visitors/attendees to their upcoming event(s). Depending on the size and/or relevance of your event, you may want to limit the geographical reach of the ad. The ad, after all, is pay-per-click and you wouldn’t want somebody who doesn’t live near the event to click on it and waste your marketing dollars.

Offer Ads

This ad works well for brick and mortar stores when they have any discounts coming up. When a user clicks on the button “Get Offer” next to the ad, they will redeem the offer and receive an email containing the details and terms of use.  

Local Awareness Ads

Local awareness ads work best when it comes to location-based targeting. These ads pop up for users when they are near your business. The call-to-action buttons you can use on this ad can include “Call Now” or “Get Directions.”

Facebook Stories Ads

We announced the newest form of Facebook advertising last month on the blog. Businesses are now able to advertise through Facebook Stories. Facebook Stories are photos or videos that users can click past, similar to slides on a presentation. Your story can have stickers, text, and filters. In an article earlier this year from TechCrunch, they shared Stories are about to surpass feed sharing.

Interested in setting up a Facebook Ad for your business? Contact Sperling Interactive today. We’d love to help you determine which ad to run and how to select a target audience.

How To Revive Your Neglected Blog

A picture of an open laptop and open notebook.

So… you neglected your business blog.

Don’t worry. Your blog is not over for good. You can still win back your readers. Here’s how to revive your neglected blog.

Be Kind To Yourself.

Blogging is hard. To those who haven’t attempted it before, blogging can seem like something a monkey can do. Little do those people know that you always have to be coming up with relevant and interesting content people want to read, doing research, engaging with your audience, linking to old posts, promoting your posts, etc.

Even the most prolific business bloggers have neglected their blogs. Don’t let your ego stop you from creating new blog posts. Your audience wants to hear from you.

Refresh Old Content.

If you have blog posts that are still relevant to both your business and readers, rewrite them. Add in new pictures, new updates, and swap out the old title for a new one. This can get you back into the swing of things and will bring readers back into enjoying your content.

Write Short Blog Posts.

If you’re finding it hard to get back in the saddle, aim to write short blog posts. By writing short blog posts, you’re at least getting into the habit of writing posts again. And by doing that, you’re making blogging a routine again.  

Writing is very similar to working out – it’s a muscle. And when you’ve haven’t done either in a while, sometimes the best option is to not put too much pressure on yourself to do a lot. You will write longer blog posts when you’re used to doing it consistently.

Write Blog Posts Around Your Keywords.

Google Analytics is an immensely invaluable tool that every business should have. It can help you see how online campaigns are performing, where your visitors are located, it can reveal your top content and worst performing pages, and much more. On top of that, Google Analytics can help you see what keywords people are searching when they come across your business. This is beneficial as now you know which keywords to write around in future posts.

Ask Your Readers What They Want.

There’s a chance you’ve stopped blogging because you ran out of ideas. To prevent this, ask your readers what kind of content they want to read on social media. You could create a social media post where you ask for suggestions or use Instagram Stories. On Stories, there is a question sticker where followers can type their responses to you.

Create An Editorial Calendar.

An editorial calendar is a calendar specifically for your content marketing strategies. An editorial calendar keeps you accountable and your content organized. They’re also great because they enable you to order your posts in the best and most logical way. The posts, and when they go live, will no longer be random.

Show Off Client Projects.

If you are a visual business and have clients, writing a blog post showing a before and after is a fantastic way to show your target audience what you could possibly do for them. Give the people you want to work with another case study!

If you’re still finding blogging hard after reading this article, call us at (978) 304-1730 for a meeting with us. We do strategic blog posts for an array of clients from a wedding venue to a backdrop theatre company to a general contractor. We have strong writers on staff and they’d love to help you.

What is WordPress 5?

A laptop with WordPress on it and colored lights on in the background.

WordPress 5.0 arrived in early December, and since it’s arrival it’s really shaken things up! We can’t remember a version of WordPress that has had as many new features as WordPress 5!

WordPress updates its content management system multiple times every year and nearly every time, the changes are fairly small. A lot of users usually don’t notice the new changes. This  can’t be said about WordPress 5.

Gutenberg

The biggest thing to come from WordPress 5 is the visual editor, Gutenberg. Gutenberg is a block based editor and it’s changing the way people now create posts and new web pages.

We believe the biggest reasons WordPress created WordPress 5 is to stay relevant, meet users’ needs, and to risk losing market share. With WordPress 5, WordPress is trying to channel Squarespace and Wix’s intuitive building experience. Like Squarespace and Wix, Gutenberg is a drag and drop editor that uses content blocks. You click on the plus button ‘+’ to add things like text blocks, image blocks, gallery blocks, and layout elements to your posts and pages. The only way one can opt out of Gutenberg when downloading WordPress 5 is to install the Classic Editor plugin.

A screenshot of Gutenberg's interface.

Adding a post using Gutenberg.

A screenshot showing how to use the block editor in Gutenberg.

The ‘+’ allows you to add content.

On December 6th, 1.3 million sites opted into either Gutenberg or the Classic Editor plugin. According to WordPress founder and CEO, Matt Mullenweg, this number is more than any single version of WordPress prior to version 4.7.

Important Things To Know About Gutenberg

Gutenberg will affect themes and plugins. Some plugins were created to interact with the Classic Editor and as such will not be compatible with Gutenberg.

We advise downloading Gutenberg before you make the update to see what features on your site will be impacted by Gutenberg.  

How To Perform An Update

To update your website, go to Dashboard>Updates. Click on Update WordPress and don’t leave the page until the update is complete. The update shouldn’t take long.

Why We Use WordPress

A big factor that has made WordPress the most popular website and blog creation tool (it powers 30% of the world’s website) is it’s free and open-source. This means you have total freedom over the websites and blogs you can create. You don’t have to host your website with WordPress’s server either.

At Sperling Interactive, we build our clients’ websites in WordPress because it’s flexibility cannot be beat. No other content management system is as customizable as WordPress. Every single WordPress website comes with a GPL 2.0 license, which means you can change the code as much as you’d like, including the functionalities of plugins and themes.

Squarespace and Wix don’t have a GPL 2.0 license and come with templates, which can be limiting when you have a lot of ideas for your website. Shopify is another website-building tool that is popular these days but it is limiting as you can only make ecommerce websites with it. You can read more about why we love WordPress over on this blog post.

It’s important to note WordPress 5 is still in the early days. Developers at WordPress are still working out the kinks, and Gutenberg does not affect content you have already published.

Conclusion

You may be feeling overwhelmed about such a major change coming to WordPress’ user interface, but we don’t recommend you skip the latest version. Along with the new features, WordPress updates and adds new security features and other important elements to your website when it builds out new versions. You should note that WordPress 5 is going to make WordPress more compatible with the latest version of PHP. Staying up to date is one of the only ways to keep your site running safely and smoothly.

As the web development blog, A2 Hosting, writes “as long as you take a few precautions, such as testing Gutenberg on a staging site and doing a recent backup in place, the risks of not updating WordPress will outweigh the risks of updating it.”

All and all, we believe WordPress 5 is going to make it easier for our clients to update their websites and add more content. It may be a learning curve in the beginning, but we find most people will like the drag and drop features as they’re instinctive.

Have you switched to WordPress 5 yet? What do you think of it? If not, are you looking forward to using a block-based editor now? Or will you be downloading the classic editor? Let us know. At Sperling Interactive, we’re more than happy to help you update to WordPress 5 and make the transition for your business as smooth as possible.