With the diverse range of communities that exist today, it’s so important for social media platforms and its subsequent users to consider accessibility and diversity. If accessibility isn’t utilised within marketing efforts, you’re naturally narrowing your audience by not implementing the right features for everyone to consume your content. Moreover, if your brand does make its content accessible for users, then it can result in positive brand association as inclusivity is harnessed.
Now, major social platforms are following suit and stepping up to make their channels as user-friendly as possible. Alongside the likes of Facebook and Instagam who are committed to implementing useful features and technologies that help people with disabilities, TikTok has created a new accessibility overview which outlines the platform’s accessibility features and tools.
In a statement, TikTok said:
“At TikTok, we’re committed to maintaining an inclusive environment and supporting our diverse community. Inclusivity is important to us because when people feel included, they’re more comfortable expressing themselves authentically, creating content, and engaging with others. Being truly inclusive means building products and tools for everyone. Our cross-functional teams work with our creator community, as well as disability organizations and advocates to help ensure TikTok is accessible to everyone.”
Here are a few of the features TikTok have launched with accessibility in mind:
Photosensitive Epilepsy Toggle & Warning
Speaking about their new feature, TikTok said:
“For people with photosensitive epilepsy, exposure to flashing lights at certain intensities or to certain visual patterns can trigger seizures”.
Therefore, this new feature from TikTok allows users to opt out of any videos that contain flashes of light that could be a potential trigger for seizures. By skipping a video of such nature, TikTok recognises that action as a user not wanting to see that type of content and immediately removes other photosensitive content from the users TikTok feed.
One of the features added more recently by TikTok is its text-to-speech aid. It aims to help users by converting text into a voiceover, playing over the text as it appears in the video which is adapted to be particularly helpful to visually impaired users.
Conversely, another new feature from TikTik is its auto captions; this feature helps viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing by transcribing a video’s spoken audio into text. The feature works by users adding captions to their video while editing – the text is then transcribed and can be edited to maintain accuracies before being displayed on the final uploaded video.
Lastly, the animated thumbnail toggle gives TikTok users the option to choose from animated or static video images, which can be particularly helpful to users who are sensitive to flashing images. The feature can be turned on and off within Settings and privacy > Accessibility within the TikTok app.
How are other platforms being inclusive?
Facebook have had a range of accessibility features for a while, including advice on how to use the platform with screen readers and assistive technology, captions on videos, text size and contrast settings. In a study from Databox, 29.6% of marketers said they found that images drive more clicks so optimizing that potential by making your content as inclusive as possible by communicating them to the visually impaired and blind community is crucial. The platform’s alt text feature allows users to add alt text to images they are including in their content.
It has long been recognised that tweets with images get much more engagement than those without, and a recent article by Hubspot suggested that this can be up to 150% more. In order to be accessible to visually impaired users, Twitter has an alt text feature that allows the poster to add a description of the image or GIF to be read out for those who are unable to see it.
Unfortunately a weakness of this is that the description would need to give context and people may not give a good description. There are also bots that are able to read alt text for you if they are tagged. Although Twitter has lots of good accessibility features, there are still shortcomings when it comes to practical use, however a lot of this is at the mercy of the creator down to what the platform offers and so is out of Twitter’s control. They’ve led the charge when it comes to adding alt text to GIF’s which is a bit of a game changer for those that need it.
Instagram, as an image sharing site, had little option but to include alt text as a feature in order to remain inclusive. Earlier this year, the platform rolled out their new auto-caption feature which transcribes your video content for Stories. While it’s a great step to being more inclusive, the accuracy is only so-so, is only available in English and depends heavily on accents, sound quality etc so there’s definitely still a long way to go for the platform to become more inclusive.
Across all platforms ‘Camel Case’ is really important when using hashtags. This means that if you’re using multiple words within your hashtag, you should capitalise the beginning of each new word so that they can be read by people and screen readers with ease.
Why you should implement more inclusive marketing practices
The features mentioned above are so important to making sure that everyone has equal opportunities to consume social media content, and hopefully if you haven’t already, after reading this article you’ll make an active effort to implement features that support an inclusive environment that harnesses diversity and accessibility. Bravo TikTok, for taking the right steps to make sure content is safe and more accessible than ever for its users.
How you can improve today
- Follow best practice and use ‘Camel Case’ for your hashtags
- Use good quality alt text descriptions when using imagery in your content
- Use captions in your videos content to optimise the experience for your audience.
- Consider stopping using scheduling tools and post / schedule natively on site to take advantage of these features mentioned above.
Accessibility and inclusion is imperative, and companies like TikTok are helping with that by challenging people to consider, and implement this through using the tools provided within their strategies.
Ultimately, social media has upped its game to help people and become a more inclusive environment on a whole; but accessibility for all doesn’t stop at social media. Accessibility must remain at the heart of a brand’s digital strategy – it’s an ‘all or nothing’ playing field. This means implementation across website design, apps and email marketing must be nailed down to ensure people can get the most from your messaging, with adapted features to make each and every piece of your digital content as accessible as possible.
For those living with a disability, accessibility is not simply for aspects of convenience, it’s a necessity. If you would like support in implementing a more inclusive marketing strategy, our team has the knowledge and expertise to help you with that.