Twitter rolled out its long-awaited stories feature in the U.S. today

Screenshot of the top of the Twitter app showing circles that indicate people have posted Fleets.
Screenshot of the top of the Twitter app showing circles that indicate people have posted Fleets.

Whether content creators like it or not (and most are leaning towards not), Fleets for Twitter are finally here. This is the bird app’s own version of stories, a feature that Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and, most recently, LinkedIn all have in some capacity.

Similar to its counterparts on the other platforms, Fleets will disappear after 24 hours and video Fleets can only be 30 seconds long. An impressive part of Twitter’s stories function is the fact that you can add alt text to your still Fleets, something that the other social media platforms have yet to figure out.

Alt text is a short physical description of an image and is important because it makes images accessible for disabled people who use a screen reader to consume digital content. …


What to keep in mind when it comes to social media management tools

A pile of multi-colored paper confetti circles.
A pile of multi-colored paper confetti circles.
Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels

If I haven’t convinced you with any of my previous articles on the subject, alternative text—more commonly known as alt text—is important when it comes to creating and publishing inclusive content on social media.

Thankfully, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn all allow you to add alt text before publishing, but what about third-party sites and apps? I did my best to get some insight into the accessibility features that some of the better-known management tools offer right now.

Varying levels of accessibility

When it comes to third-party apps, Sprout Social and Hootsuite are the most inclusive ones right now. You can add alt text to your posts for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn through their platforms. Due to the limitations of Instagram’s notoriously strict Application Programming Interface (API), they’re both still waiting to add IG to the mix. …


The media-sharing app just got more accessible

A woman in a grey blouse and grey hijab sitting in front of a ring light holding a coral-colored mobile phone.
A woman in a grey blouse and grey hijab sitting in front of a ring light holding a coral-colored mobile phone.
Photo credit: cottonbro on Pexels

Nearly two years after introducing alt text for photo posts, Instagram is finally taking another step towards a more accessibility-friendly app experience with the addition of automated captions for IGTV videos.

The update was long overdue, especially since Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, added closed captioning for Facebook Live videos back in 2017. There’s still a lot of work to be done to make Facebook and Instagram truly inclusive platforms (I’m looking at you, Stories), but this is certainly a step in the right direction.

Here are a few helpful insights to keep in mind if you plan on adding auto-captions to your IGTV videos. …


A personal essay about choosing compassion

The profile of a woman’s face from her collarbone to just below her eyes.
The profile of a woman’s face from her collarbone to just below her eyes.

I cannot stop thinking about Brayden Harrington.

He’s the 13-year-old boy who has suddenly found himself in the spotlight after his recorded speech was played during the 2020 Democratic National Convention last night, August 20. Brayden’s speech was notable because he has a stutter, a trait he shares with Presidential nominee Joe Biden. He took notable pauses during his speech and some words caused him more trouble than others, but Brayden proudly recounted the time he met Biden and the impact that the former Vice President had on him. …


Tips for writing effective image descriptions.

Swirling paint in shades of purple that looks like stone marble.
Swirling paint in shades of purple that looks like stone marble.

A question that I frequently get when I talk about accessibility for social media is, “How do I write good alternative text for the pictures I post?”

If you’re not familiar with alternative text—more commonly known as alt text—it’s the written copy that describes the content of an image in a digital space and plays a significant role in making the online world more inclusive.

The importance of alt text

The purpose of alt text is two-fold; if an image on a webpage fails to load, the alt text will indicate what the missing image was supposed to be. It’s also vital for anyone who uses a screen reader or text-to-speech technology to consume digital content because the alt text is meant to accurately describe the photo out loud to the user. …


I’m pretty sure that Mark Zuckerberg hates me

A college of Facebook bells with red notifications ranging in values on them.
A college of Facebook bells with red notifications ranging in values on them.

As a social media professional working in higher education, 2020 has been nightmarish for me at best. It’s like the hangover that never ends if that hangover was brought on by taking too many shots of Malört in a loud dive-bar that you didn’t want to go to in the first place.

Most people working in social media in the United States were already expecting 2020 to be more extra than usual thanks to it being an election year. …


America’s best beaches are once again crowded

I live in Treasure Island, Florida. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this whimsically-named town, it’s a small barrier island located in Pinellas County, Florida, which is commonly referred to as the St. Pete-Clearwater area.

You have to cross a causeway bridge to get onto the main stretch of Treasure Island, and a pirate standing over a treasure chest of oranges greets you as you drive along tree-lined Central Avenue. It’s idyllic and quiet most of the time unless one of our annual events are taking place like Sanding Ovations or the kite festival.

Our beaches are beautiful, too. The St. Pete-Clearwater area as a whole is home to some of the country’s best and most popular stretches of sand according to U.S. News, HGTV, Tripadvisor, and a slew of other travel-related websites. …


A defense of self-expression on social media

In 1839, photography enthusiast Robert Cornelius took a self-portrait in Philadelphia using a method of early photography called daguerreotypy. While his picture was obviously not taken with a mobile phone and probably required him to hold still for several minutes, Cornelius had unwittingly taken the first known selfie.

A sepia-toned photograph of a young man in a dark coat.
A sepia-toned photograph of a young man in a dark coat.
Robert Cornelius takes the first recorded selfie in 1839. | Credit: Wikipedia

The modern selfie has been a cultural phenomenon in many Asian countries, especially Japan, since as early as the 1990s, but didn’t take off in the United States until shortly after the turn of the century. …


More than 20 tips to make your online content more inclusive

The keyboard of an Apple laptop.
The keyboard of an Apple laptop.

When it comes to my work as a Social Media Manager, accessibility is one of my favorite topics to talk about. It is my personal belief that you shouldn’t need to have a vision or hearing impairment to care about digital accessibility or educate yourself about it.

While I’ve discussed a few different ways to make your social media more accessible before (to the tune of 2,000+ words), there are several quick and easy ways to make your digital presence as a whole more technically inclusive.

  • Use emojis sparingly to avoid their meta descriptions confusing the overall message of your post or tweet when read by a screen reader. Visit the site emojipedia.org


A blue graphic showing the symbols for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
A blue graphic showing the symbols for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

For most, enjoying and using social media is a relatively hassle-free experience. Many of us log onto our favorite platforms multiple times a day, and it’s sometimes the first thing we check in the morning and the last that we see at night.

But all of our experiences aren’t the same. We all post different statuses, share different news, publish in different languages, and read different timelines. And for a large portion of the world population, one or more of their five senses is impaired, which greatly impacts the experience they have online.

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 1.3 billion people have some form of vision impairment, with roughly 253 million experiencing severe vision impairment or total blindness. That’s a large portion of the global population that has to use text-to-speech programs or screen readers to navigate the digital world. There are also roughly 466 million people in the world who are deaf or hard of hearing. And if the effort isn’t being made to be accessibility-friendly online, then the experiences of these individuals are being hindered. …

About

Alexa Heinrich

Award-winning Social Media Manager in Florida. Advocate for digital accessibility and inclusive content. Former Chicagoan. www.therealalexa.com

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