Alt text and image descriptions can be auto-generated by some platforms, but Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest all allow users to manually write custom image descriptions, which is always preferred to anything that has been auto-generated by an AI program.
Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn also allow users to retroactively edit anything entered into a designated alt text field, even after publishing a post.
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The alt text field on the desktop version of Facebook can be found by clicking Edit in the upper left corner of an image before posting it to a Facebook page, profile, or group and typing the image description in the appropriate field.
In the Facebook mobile app, the alt text field is found under the three dots in the upper right corner of an uploaded image. This can be deceptive since there’s also an Edit button in the app like there is on the desktop, but the alt text field is not housed there.
Users may notice a warning display on Facebook that alt text is normally less than 100 characters. An image description should be as long as it needs to be in order to make a visual accessible.
Posting an accessible image via the Instagram app requires a few clicks. When a user gets to the final publishing screen, they'll need to tap Advanced Settings, scroll to Accessibility near the bottom of the next screen, click Write Alt Text, and then the final screen will show a field for each uploaded image where image descriptions can be written.
The alt text field is actually easier to find on the desktop version of Instagram than it is on the app. A drop-down labeled Accessibility will be shown below the caption area on the final publishing screen. When clicked, the expanded view will show each uploaded image with an alt text field next to them where image descriptions can be written.
Meta Business Suite on desktop can be used to schedule posts to Facebook and Instagram with image descriptions.
After uploading an image, click the button to the right of the thumbnail that features a pencil icon. A new window will open showing the image with editing options listed to the left. Alt text will be the last labeled option. This functionality is identical for both Facebook and Instagram posts.
NOTE: many users have reported a glitch where they write image descriptions in the alt text field for scheduled posts in Meta Business Suite, but the image descriptions do not ship with their published posts. Please make sure to double-check any posts published via Meta Business Suite to avoid this issue.
On the desktop version and mobile app of Twitter, along with TweetDeck, the alt text field can be found by clicking Add Description or +ALT below an uploaded image. Users can add image descriptions to GIFs on Twitter if they its built-in GIF library on the mobile and desktop versions of the platform or on the updated version of TweetDeck.
Twitter also has an image description reminder feature that can be turned on in the platform’s accessibility settings. If a user has the feature activated and tries to post a tweet without an image description, Twitter will remind them to fill out the alt text field before publishing the tweet.
LinkedIn has one of the easiest alt text fields to find and use. After uploading an image for a drafted post, a button that leads to the alt text field appears under the image in the next window. This functionality is identical for both desktop and mobile LinkedIn posts.
Finding Pinterest's alt text field for Pinterest is also quite easy, but it’s only an option for new pins uploaded directly to the platform. It is not currently possible to retroactively add an image description to someone else's existing pin.
When a new pin is uploaded, a button labeled Add alt text is shown to the right of the image on desktop. This functionality is the same in the Pinterest mobile app except instead of a button, a labeled alt text field is immediately shown under the uploaded image.
Image accessibility features vary across third-party management tools and apps. Below is a sampling of a few different management systems and how they handle image accessibility. At this time, Sked Social is the only third-party site that can post to Instagram using the platform’s alt text field due to API restrictions.
If you use a third-party management system other than Sked Social and want to continue using it to publish to Instagram, simply write your image description directly in the caption area of your post to make it accessible.
The following social media management tools and apps can access Facebook's alt text field when scheduling posts:
The following social media management tools and apps can access Twitter's alt text field when scheduling posts:
The following social media management tools and apps can access Instagram's alt text field when scheduling posts:
The following social media management tools and apps can access LinkedIn's alt text field when scheduling posts:
The following social media management tools and apps can access Pinterest's alt text field when scheduling posts:
Want to learn a little more about alt text and image descriptions? Check out the links below!