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What is ALT text on Instagram and Why is it Important?

Instagram’s transformation from a straightforward photo-sharing app to a global social media powerhouse is nothing short of extraordinary.

Here’s something interesting:

With Statista reporting a user base of 1.21 billion monthly active users in 2021—a figure projected to swell to around 1.44 billion by 2025—it’s clear that Instagram is a fertile ground for marketers, especially in the realm of visual content like images, Reels, and videos.

However, the art of Instagram marketing isn’t just about posting visually appealing content; it’s also about understanding and utilizing the platform’s features to their fullest potential. One such feature that can significantly impact your content’s visibility is ALT text.

But what is Instagram ALT text? Why is it something you should be considering?

What is ALT Text on Instagram?

ALT text on Instagram serves as a text tag that provides a description of an image for scenarios where the image cannot be seen or properly loaded.

Who is this particularly beneficial for?

It’s beneficial for users with visual impairments as it allows screen readers to vocalize the content of the image, making the platform more accessible. Moreover, it aids search engines and the Instagram algorithm in recognizing and categorizing posts, which can enhance the relevance and reach of the content to targeted users.

Users have two options for ALT text on Instagram. They can use the platform’s automatic generation feature, which relies on object recognition technology. However, this often fails to capture the full context and description of the image in a post. Alternatively, users can manually input their own description, allowing for greater accuracy and context.

This manual addition of ALT text can be done through the “Advanced Settings” when posting an image (more on how to do that later).

What does this mean for marketers? 

By adding ALT text to Instagram posts, marketers foster inclusivity and potentially improve the visibility of their content within the platform’s search and recommendation systems. This could lead to broader reach and engagement with their posts.

How to Write ALT Text on Instagram?

Here’s a step-by-step process for writing ALT text for your new post on Instagram.

  • Begin with Your Media Selection: Start by choosing the image or video you wish to share on your Instagram feed. Once you’ve made your selection, apply any desired filters or edits to enhance the visual appeal.
  • Proceed to the Caption Area: After you’re satisfied with the edits, move forward to the screen where you can add a caption. Here, you can craft a compelling caption that complements your image or video and, if necessary, tag individuals or other accounts.
  • Navigate to Advanced Settings: Before you finalize your post, scroll down to find the “Advanced Settings” option. This is typically located at the bottom of the screen. Tap on it to access more options for your post.
  • Access the ALT Text Feature: Within the advanced settings, you’ll find the option to “Write Alt Text.” This is where you can add descriptive text that serves as an alternative for your image or video.
  • Compose Your ALT Text: Click on the “Write Alt Text” section and enter a concise yet descriptive text that accurately represents the content of your media. This text should convey the essential elements of the image or video for those who might not be able to see it.
  • Save Your ALT Text: After entering the ALT text, make sure to save your changes. There should be a “Done” or “Save” button to confirm that your ALT text will be included with the post.
  • Share Your Post: With the ALT text now attached, return to your post. Give everything one last review to ensure it’s ready for your audience. When you’re all set, hit the “Share” button to publish your post with the ALT text, making your content more accessible and SEO-friendly.

Remember, adding ALT text is not just about improving SEO; it’s about inclusivity and ensuring that all users, regardless of visual ability, can enjoy and engage with your content.

So, you can add an ALT text to a new post. But what about an existing post? Can you add or edit an ALT text to that?

Yes! Here is how…

How to Add or Edit ALT Text on Instagram for an Existing Post

Want to add an ALT text to an existing Instagram post? That’s possible too! Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to add or edit ALT text for an existing post on Instagram:

  • Locate the Post: Begin by navigating to your Instagram profile and scrolling through your feed to find the post you want to edit. Once you’ve found the post, tap on it to view it in full.
  • Enter Post Edit Mode: Look for the three dots (…) in the upper right corner of your post. Tapping on this will open a menu with several options. Select “Edit” to modify the post’s details.
  • Find the ALT Text Option: On the edit screen, you’ll see your image and caption. Below the image, there should be an option labeled “Edit Alt Text.” This is sometimes hidden under a small button with an “Aa” icon. Tap on it to proceed.
  • Edit or Add Your ALT Text: Once you’re in the ALT text editing screen, you can add new ALT text or revise the existing one. Ensure that your ALT text is descriptive and gives context to the image for those who cannot see it.
    Add Your ALT Text
  • Save Your Changes: After you’ve finished writing or editing the ALT text, look for the checkmark, “Done,” or “Save” option to apply the changes. This will ensure that the ALT text is updated for your post.
  • Complete the Edit: Once you’ve saved the ALT text, you’ll be taken back to the edit screen. Here, you can make any additional changes to your caption or tags if needed. If you’re finished editing, tap on the checkmark or “Done” to finalize all changes.
  • Review Your Post: After saving, take a moment to review your post to ensure that all edits, including the ALT text, are correct. If everything looks good, you can exit the edit mode.

Why is ALT Text on Instagram Important?

ALT text on Instagram transcends its function as a mere substitute for images. It’s a gateway to accessibility, allowing screen readers to articulate the image descriptions for the visually impaired, thus democratizing access to Instagram’s rich visual content.

This commitment to digital inclusivity ensures that all users, regardless of visual ability, can engage with content in a meaningful way.

For marketers, ALT text is indispensable.

It’s not just about adhering to best practices for digital accessibility; it’s about amplifying your content’s reach.

With precise descriptions, ALT text feeds Instagram’s algorithms the context needed to categorize and prioritize content, enhancing its searchability within the app and on external search engines. This is a boon for SEO, potentially expanding your audience well beyond the typical scroll-through.

If Instagram is a key player in your marketing strategy, understanding and leveraging ALT text is crucial.

It’s not merely a feature—it’s a strategic tool.

Just as you would evaluate the impact of employee engagement on social channels, incorporating ALT text into your content can significantly boost your marketing efficacy. It’s about making your content work smarter, not harder, and ensuring it’s discovered and appreciated by the widest audience possible.

6 Tips to Write Impressive ALT Text on Instagram

As simple as it may seem, writing ALT text on Instagram posts requires a thoughtful approach to ensure both accessibility and discoverability.

Below are six key tips to help you craft ALT text that is both informative and engaging, enhancing your content’s reach and resonance with your audience.

1. Precision in Descriptiveness

When crafting ALT text, it’s essential to strike a balance between brevity and vivid description. 

An example?

Rather than simply stating, “Beach with tall grass,” you could enhance the description to “Tall grass on a sand dune with the beach and ocean surf in the background on a sunny day.”

ALT text

This paints a detailed picture while adhering to Instagram’s 100-character ALT text limit. Aim to evoke emotion and context, giving a sense of the scene that the image portrays.

2. Strategic Keyword Integration

Keywords are the bridge between your content and your audience’s search queries. Conduct thorough keyword research to understand what your audience is looking for and how they describe it. Incorporate these terms naturally into your ALT text.

For instance, if your image is of a popular tourist destination, include the location’s name and descriptors that potential visitors might search for. This approach not only aids in SEO but also ensures your content is relevant and discoverable.

Here’s what the ALT text would be of an image of Le Louvre in Paris: “The Louvre Museum in Paris at sunset, with tourists admiring the beauty of the iconic landmark.”

Strategic Keyword Integration

This ALT text includes all the important keywords, including the name of the museum and the city.

3. Brevity With Substance

Conciseness is key, but so is substance.

Your ALT text should succinctly convey the critical elements of the image. For example, “Sunset over the Grand Canyon, casting a warm glow on the layered rock formations” is concise yet descriptive.

Practice writing ALT text that eliminates unnecessary words while ensuring that the remaining text provides a clear and accurate representation of the image’s content.

4. Handling Textual Elements

If your image contains essential textual information, it’s crucial to convey this in your ALT text. When character limits are restrictive, prioritize the most critical text or convey the gist of the message.

For example, if the image is a promotional poster, ensure that the ALT text includes the event name, date, and key call to action. This ensures that the information is accessible to all users, including those using screen readers.

5. Avoiding Redundancy

Users who rely on ALT text are aware that they are receiving a description of an image, so phrases like “image of” are unnecessary. Instead, use the valuable character space to focus on details that contribute to understanding and appreciating the image.

For example, “A barista crafting a latte, with intricate latte art taking shape under their skilled hands” immediately immerses the user in the scene without redundant introductions.

6. Active Voice for Engagement

Utilizing an active voice in your ALT text can make descriptions more dynamic and engaging. Active voice leads to clearer and more direct sentences, making the descriptions easier to understand.

For instance, “A hiker reaches the summit, overlooking the expansive valley below” is more immediate and impactful than a passive construction.

Active Voice

This approach can make the ALT text more attention-grabbing and memorable, enhancing the overall engagement with your post.

Leveraging SocialPilot’s Instagram Analytics

After meticulously crafting the perfect Instagram post, complete with engaging visuals and finely tuned ALT text, it’s crucial to understand how this content resonates with your audience. 

SocialPilot’s Instagram analytics tool offers a comprehensive solution to gauge the performance of your posts.

Instagram analytics

With detailed analytics reports, you can analyze audience behavior and post-performance for your Instagram Business accounts, gaining insights into the efficacy of your marketing activities.

Here’s what you can expect:

  • Comprehensive Analytics Reports: SocialPilot allows you to analyze and monitor audience behavior and post-performance for your Instagram Business accounts with in-depth analytics reports. You can generate reports for seven days, 15 days, one month, and three months.
  • Cumulative Analytics Reports: The tool provides a complete overview of your overall social media performance, including the ability to compile reports for different profiles and channels. It helps in identifying trends and optimizing your Instagram strategy.
  • Audience Demographics: SocialPilot offers detailed metrics on audience demographics, including age, gender, and location, enabling you to tailor your strategies for maximum impact.
  • Optimal Posting Times: The analytics can inform you about the days when your posts are likely to have the maximum reach, aiding in scheduling content for optimal engagement.
  • Hashtag Performance Monitoring: The tool provides a detailed breakdown of hashtag performance, including average reach and engagement, helping you choose the most effective hashtags for your posts.
  • Instagram Stories Analysis: SocialPilot analyzes the performance of your Instagram stories, providing metrics on replies, tap backs, tap forwards, and exits within the 24-hour timeframe of each story.


While ALT text vastly improves the accessibility of your posts, it also has other benefits, such as boosting your SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) rankings and helping to broaden your reach.

As with other marketing strategies, you may not get it exactly right the first time.

Besides looking at how well your competitors perform with their own ALT text tactics, monitor the results of your own use until you find a way that works well for your business.

In an age of inclusivity, you should also be thinking about your customers (and potential ones) who have visual or cognitive impairments. Using ALT text can benefit these groups greatly and can lead to whole new groups of customers.And for those looking to streamline this process and gain deeper insights into their social media performance, tools like SocialPilot can be invaluable. The tool offers a way to manage, analyze, and enhance your online engagement effectively.


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