Experiment: Does Custom Instagram Alt Text Improve Reach?

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Social web optimization is a scorching matter in the meanwhile; Instagram alt textual content could also be trending even stronger than ChatGPT. And whereas there’s a ton of content material on the market explaining good theoretical observe, there aren’t many blogs that present truly test it out.

Right here at Hootsuite, we satisfaction ourselves on working towards what thought leaders preach, displaying as an alternative of telling, and dipping our nifty digital fingers into the theoretical muck. We’re social media scientists! We check theories after we see them!

And at the moment we’ve ready an experiment for you. Be a part of us to see if writing customized alt textual content on Instagram can improve your attain.

Bonus: Declare yours a free pack of 15 artistic Instagram submit templates made by Hootsuite’s skilled graphic designers. Simply set them up in Canva and begin getting extra engagement at the moment.

Speculation: Writing customized alt textual content on Instagram will improve the attain of my posts

Let’s get one factor out of the best way: Instagram alt textual content is a should for all entrepreneurs. Accessibility is essential, and inclusive design opens up your content material to visually impaired audiences.

However what if alt textual content might additionally enhance your social web optimization?

For these new to this, alt textual content is further descriptive copy used to explain the content material of a picture in HTML. This makes your content material accessible to individuals utilizing display readers and may improve your probabilities of showing in search outcomes.

Instagram provides computerized AI-generated alt textual content, however you too can write your personal.

We wish to know if customized Instagram alt textual content generally is a new weapon in your arsenal to fight the wasteland that’s Instagram web optimization. Or simply improve the numbers in analytics just a little.

At the moment’s speculation is that customized alt textual content will get us extra publicity than counting on Instagram’s auto-generated alt textual content.

Let’s examine which textual content will prevail!


To check the alt textual content principle, I opened my Hootsuite dashboard and scheduled six numerous posts.

Three have unique customized alt textual content, and three have alt textual content created by Instagram.

I attempted to maintain the content material as related as doable to keep away from bias. For this experiment, I made a decision to submit guide opinions as a result of it is my love language and Instagram has a powerful #bookstagram group.

I additionally let Hootsuite decide one of the best time to submit (spacing every submit by a couple of days) to encourage engagement.

I now have a whopping 801 followers on my private Instagram account, so I used to be anticipating some juicy outcomes.

I revealed the primary submit (in Tender Flesh) with the usual Instagram alt textual content. Then, the next week, I alternated posts with customized alt textual content to posts with normal alt textual content.

The schedule was as follows:

Title Kind schedule
Tender flesh Default alt textual content Posted on Wednesday, 12:00 p.m
Younger Mungo Custom alt textual content Posted on Friday, 9 am
I am glad my mother died Default alt textual content Posted on Monday, 11 am
know my identify Custom alt textual content Posted on Wednesday, 12:00 p.m
Black leopard, crimson wolf Default alt textual content Posted on Friday, 9 am
A nun of a sexual cult Custom alt textual content Posted on Monday, 11 am

Every guide was reviewed with the identical caption size (no spoilers, in fact) and I included the identical hashtags (#bookstagram and #goodreads).

The default alt textual content is…

The default alt textual content for the primary photograph is solely “Photograph by Colin Christison on February 22, 2023. Could possibly be a picture of a guide.” The remainder of the choice textual content is written equally by default.

… vs. customized alt textual content

I wrote a way more detailed, keyword-rich picture description for the customized alt textual content.

For Younger Mungo, for instance, I wrote: “The picture exhibits a guide mendacity flat on a peach coloured felt. The guide “Younger Mungo” by Douglas Stewart.

“You’ll be able to solely see the duvet of the guide, not the pages that say ‘Younger Mungo’ in massive white letters on the high of the guide. On the backside of the guide, in the identical white however barely smaller font, is written: “Douglas Stewart.” Then underneath it in even smaller font is written: “Creator, winner of the Booker Prize Shugi Bane.

“The quilt of the guide exhibits a Caucasian teenager along with his mouth and nostril underneath water. He has wonderful options and full lips. The boy has no eyes, solely the decrease half of his face and his proper shoulder. It’s illuminated by the solar shining by way of the water. The solar refracts by way of the floor of the water, creating patterns of sunshine on the boy’s face and shoulders.”

Then I rinsed and repeated this technique for different posts.

The outcomes

The outcomes are there! As you possibly can see, there have been two runaway stars within the present: I am glad my mother died and A nun of a sexual cult. (Two of probably the most spicy group names.)

Title Kind The outcomes
Tender flesh Default alt textual content Protection: 2731 didn’t subscribe

Views: 324

1 of them from the evaluate web page

Interactions with messages: 28

6 feedback
1 Save

Younger Mungo Custom alt textual content Protection: 2731 didn’t subscribe

Impressions: 316

Interactions of publications:

2 feedback
1 Save

I am glad my mother died Default alt textual content Protection: 451

6 didn’t subscribe

Views: 493

3 have been achieved utilizing hashtags
3 have been achieved with Others

Interactions with messages: 46

5 feedback
3 preservation

know my identify Custom alt textual content Protection: 239

6 didn’t subscribe

Views: 264

4 have been reached utilizing hashtags
2 have been reached from one other

Interactions of publications:

23 cursing
5 feedback
0 save

Black leopard, crimson wolf Default alt textual content Protection: 227

2 didn’t subscribe

Views: 249

3 have been achieved with Others
1 was achieved with Discover

Interactions of publications:

3 feedback
2 preservation

A nun of a sexual cult Custom alt textual content Protection: 342

1 didn’t subscribe

Views: 360

1 was achieved by way of hashtags

Publish interactions:

2 feedback
0 save

Listed below are the outcomes of the protection of this experiment in Instagram’s personal analytics.

content of Instagram photo books with impressions

Bonus: I additionally elevated my whole followers by a whopping 1.7%.

What do the outcomes imply?

Okay, we obtained our numbers. However what do they do? actually imply?

The TL;DR of that is in the numbers do not inform us (and not using a shadow of a doubt) whether or not customized alt textual content performs higher than normal alt textual content.

The experiment turned out to be fruitless…

Sadly, the outcomes have been fairly related, with one standout piece of content material: a guide evaluate by Janet McCurdy I am glad my mother died. This can be resulting from a number of elements. This may very well be as a result of the guide was trending final 12 months (resulting from its stunning title) or extra of a “proper time, proper place” scenario.

The runner-up submit A nun of a sexual cult, additionally has a stunning title and was revealed similtaneously the submit that took first place at 11am on Monday. Hmm

The submit in first place had default alt textual content, whereas the submit in second place had its personal alt textual content.

To check the success principle additional, I might take a look at different books that have been trending in 2022, others with stunning titles, or attempt posting once more on Monday at 11am and see how my content material performs. I might preserve alternating customized alt textual content with normal alt textual content till I noticed patterns.

Additional a/b testing could be wanted to determine why these two posts got here out on high.

…however that does not imply you should not write your personal alt textual content

The advantages of alt textual content go far past attain and engagement on Instagram. Alt textual content permits individuals with visible impairments to view your content material, making a extra equal social media expertise.

Moreover, together with individuals from this demographic in your content material technique opens up the potential to achieve a wider viewers. Be inclusive on social media; it is a cool factor.

Hashtags are nonetheless related

You’ll be able to see from the outcomes that customers nonetheless discover content material to have interaction with utilizing hashtags. Sustain the great work with the hashtags!

There are a couple of caveats we should always make

When contemplating these outcomes, we should preserve a number of elements in thoughts.

First, my final Instagram submit was final September. The extra lively your account is, the extra seemingly individuals will interact together with your content material. And the extra seemingly Instagram will share your content material in its discovery feed. So, it was a troublesome struggle to start with, which might have affected the outcomes.

Psst: Do not be like me. Schedule your posts upfront with Hootsuite to remain related, engaged, and on high of your content material.

Additionally, my signatures have been fairly lengthy as a result of I used them to evaluate the books I revealed. The the perfect caption size for Instagram is between 138 and 150 characters, so I went just a little overboard with the guide opinions. Sooner or later I’ll experiment with the size of the captions.

Begin constructing your Instagram presence with Hootsuite. Schedule and submit on to Instagram, interact your viewers, measure efficiency, and handle your different social media profiles—all from one easy dashboard. Strive it at no cost at the moment.


Make it higher with Hootsuite, a common device of social networks. Keep updated, develop and beat your opponents.

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