Does Custom Instagram Alt Text Improve Reach?

Social website positioning is a scorching matter in the meanwhile; Instagram alt textual content could also be trending even more durable than ChatGPT. And whereas there’s a ton of content material explaining theoretical finest practices, there aren’t quite a lot of blogs that present somebody really testing it out.

Right here at Hootsuite, we satisfaction ourselves on working towards what the thought-leaders preach, exhibiting as a substitute of telling, and getting our dainty, digital fingers within the theoretical mud. We’re social media scientists! We take a look at theories once we see ‘em!

And at the moment, we’ve bought an experiment for you. Be part of us in testing whether or not writing customized alt textual content on Instagram can increase attain.

Hypothesis: Writing custom Instagram alt text will get my posts more reach

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

However what if alt textual content may also enhance your social SEO?

For anybody new right here, alt text is the extra descriptive copy used to explain the contents of a picture inside HTML code. It makes your content material accessible to individuals who use display readers and might enhance your probabilities of showing in searches.

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

We need to know if customized Instagram alt textual content may very well be a brand new weapon in your arsenal for battling the wastelands which are Instagram SEO. Or, simply you realize, increase the numbers in your analytics a bit.

As we speak’s speculation is that customized alt textual content will earn us extra attain than counting on Instagram’s auto-generated alt textual content.

Let’s see which textual content will prevail!


To check the alt textual content principle, I pulled up my Hootsuite dashboard and scheduled six different posts.

Three have unique, customized alt textual content, and three have Instagram-generated alt textual content.

I attempted to maintain the content material as comparable as potential to keep away from bias. For this experiment, I selected to publish e-book evaluations as a result of it’s my love language, and Instagram has a strong #bookstagram neighborhood.

I additionally let Hootsuite resolve on the best times to post (with every publish a number of days aside) to encourage engagement.

Now, my private Instagram account has a whopping 801 followers, so I used to be anticipating some juicy outcomes.

create new Instagram post using Hootsuite

I printed the primary publish (on the e-book Tender is the Flesh) with Instagram’s default alt textual content. Then, I alternated posts that includes customized alt textual content with posts that includes default alt textual content over the subsequent week.

The schedule was as follows:

Title Kind Schedule
Tender is the Flesh Default alt textual content Revealed Wednesday, 12 PM
Younger Mungo Customized alt textual content Revealed Friday, 9 AM
I’m Glad My Mother Died Default alt textual content Revealed Monday, 11 AM
Know My Title Customized alt textual content Revealed Wednesday, 12 PM
Black Leopard, Crimson Wolf Default alt textual content Revealed Friday, 9 AM
Intercourse Cult Nun Customized alt textual content Revealed Monday, 11 AM

Every e-book was reviewed in the same caption size (no spoilers, after all), and I included the identical hashtags (#bookstagram and #goodreads).

Default alt textual content…

The default alt textual content for the primary photograph is just “Photograph by Colleen Christison on February 22, 2023. Could also be a picture of e-book.” The remainder of the default alt textual content is equally written.

…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 depicts a e-book mendacity flat on a peach-colored felt background. The e-book is Younger Mungo by Douglas Stuart.

“You may solely see the duvet of the e-book, not the pages, which state the title ‘Younger Mungo’ throughout the highest of the e-book in a big, white typeface. The underside of the e-book, in the identical white however barely smaller typeface, reads, ‘Douglas Stuart.’ Then, beneath that, in an excellent smaller typeface, it reads, ‘Booker prize-winning creator of Shuggie Bain.’

“The picture on the e-book’s cowl is of a caucasian teenage boy together with his mouth and nostril underwater. He has delicate options and full lips. You can’t see the boy’s eyes, solely the decrease half of his face and his proper shoulder. He’s lit up by the solar shining via the water. The solar is refracted via the water’s floor, making patterns of sunshine throughout the boy’s face and shoulder.”

Then, I rinsed and repeated this technique for the opposite posts.


The outcomes are in! As you’ll be able to see, there have been two runaway stars of the present: I’m Glad My Mother Died and Intercourse Cult Nun. (Two of the spiciest titles of the bunch.)

Title Kind Outcomes
Tender is the Flesh Default alt textual content Attain: 273

1 non-follower

Impressions: 324

1 of which was from the Discover web page

Put up Interactions: 28

6 Feedback
1 Save

Younger Mungo Customized alt textual content Attain: 273

1 non-follower

Impressions: 316

Put up Interactions:

2 Feedback
1 Save

I’m Glad My Mother Died Default alt textual content Attain: 451

6 non-followers

Impressions: 493

3 had been reached from hashtags
3 had been reached from Different

Put up Interactions: 46

5 Feedback
3 Saves

Know My Title Customized alt textual content Attain: 239

6 non-followers

Impressions: 264

4 had been reached from hashtags
2 had been reached from Different

Put up Interactions:

5 Feedback
0 Saves

Black Leopard, Crimson Wolf Default alt textual content Attain: 227

2 non-followers

Impressions: 249

3 had been reached from Different
1 was reached from Discover

Put up Interactions:

3 Feedback
2 Saves

Intercourse Cult Nun Customized alt textual content Attain: 342

1 non-follower

Impressions: 360

1 was reached from hashtags

Put up Interactions:

2 Feedback
0 Saves

Listed here are the attain outcomes from this experiment in Instagram’s personal analytics.

instagram content photos of books with impressions


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

What do the outcomes imply?

Alright, so we’ve bought our numbers. However what do they actually imply?

The TL;DR of it’s that the numbers don’t inform us (with no shadow of a doubt) whether or not or not customized alt textual content performs higher than default alt textual content.

The experiment was inconclusive…

Sadly, the outcomes had been pretty comparable, with one stand-out piece of content material: The e-book assessment of Jenette McCurdy’s I’m Glad My Mother Died. This may very well be due to a couple components. It may very well be as a result of the e-book was trending final yr (because of her surprising title) or extra of a “proper time, proper place” scenario.

The publish that got here in second, Intercourse Cult Nun, additionally has a surprising title and was posted concurrently the first-place publish, Monday at 11 AM. Hmm.

The primary-place publish had default alt textual content, whereas the second-place publish had customized alt textual content.

To check the theories of success additional, I may assessment different books that had been trending in 2022, others with surprising titles, or attempt to publish once more on Mondays at 11 AM and see how my content material carried out. I might proceed to alternate customized alt textual content with default alt textual content till I noticed patterns emerge.

It will take additional a/b testing to seek out out simply why these two posts had been within the prime place.

…however that doesn’t imply you shouldn’t write your personal alt textual content

The advantages of alt textual content go far past attain and engagement charges on Instagram. Alt textual content permits your content material to be consumed by the visually impaired, making a extra equal expertise throughout social media.

Plus, together with people on this demographic in your content material technique opens up your potential attain to a wider viewers. Be inclusive on social media; it’s the cool factor to do.

Hashtags are nonetheless related

You may see from the outcomes that customers nonetheless find content to engage with via hashtags. Sustain the great hashtagging work!

There are a number of disclaimers we have to make

There are a pair components we’d like to bear in mind when contemplating these outcomes.

The primary is that my final Instagram publish was from September of the earlier yr. The extra energetic your account is, the extra probably individuals will have interaction along with your content material. And the extra probably Instagram is to share your content material on their discovery feed. So, this was a little bit of an uphill battle to start with, which may have affected the outcomes.

Psst: Don’t be like me. Schedule your posts in advance with Hootsuite and keep related, engaged, and on prime of your content material.

Additionally, my captions had been fairly lengthy, as I used to be utilizing them to assessment the books I posted. The ideal caption length for Instagram is 138 to 150 characters, so I went a bit overboard with my zealous e-book evaluations. Sooner or later, I’ll be experimenting with caption size.

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