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  • Writer's pictureCharlene Slimp

Accessible Hashtags: Making Social Media A Better Place

Updated: Dec 22, 2023

A computer graphic showing a clothesline with clothespins holding square cards in black and white with large hashtag symbols on them. Below is text repeats the article headline.

Social Media: A Slice of Modern Life

Most of us devote a significant chunk of our day to social media. We might adore it, despise it, or perhaps feel a little of both. It's a terrific tool for keeping up with distant family members, filling our spare time with entertaining videos, or staying abreast of the latest news and trends.

However, it's not all sunshine and rainbows. Social media can sometimes cast a shadow on family dynamics. For instance, some people might develop an addiction to it, obsessively checking various platforms and disrupting quality time or activities they'd rather focus on. And let's not forget the harmful effects of cyber-bullying, which have been largely overlooked until recently, particularly for children and young adults. But it's also vital to highlight the bright side, like bridging cultural gaps, connecting isolated demographics, and offering educational resources that would otherwise be out of reach.

Regardless of your personal feelings towards social media, as sales and marketing leaders, you know it's an indispensable and strategic part of your growth strategy (and if it isn’t, it probably should be). So, if we can't dodge it, let's discuss how to improve it, starting with accessibility.

For a fun, video-based explanation, check out the embedded video below!

Hashtags: The Unsung Heroes of Searching

Have you ever tried finding your favorite content on social media? If yes, you've probably used hashtags. They're like shortcuts, leading you to the stuff you're interested in more quickly than the search functions. But did you know that not everyone finds it easy to read or understand hashtags? That's where accessible hashtags come in, and they're a big deal in making social media more inclusive - frankly, we think they’re better for everyone.

Accessible Hashtags: What's That?

Think of accessible hashtags as "easy-to-read" hashtags. They're designed to be user-friendly, especially for folks who use screen readers - this is a technology that reads out digital text. Sometimes, screen readers (and everyone else!) get tripped up by hashtags that are all squished together. So, the idea behind accessible hashtags is to make sure everyone gets the message loud and clear.

Why Do We Need Accessible Hashtags?

Here's the thing: inclusivity matters, both online and offline. The World Health Organization tells us about 16% of people globally live with some version of disability. That's 1.3 billion people, or one out of every six people on the planet. Given sufficient time, we’ll all end up disabled in some way. If we don't think about accessibility, this larger percentage of the population will find the digital world challenging.

Accessible hashtags are one way to help. They make sure that folks with visual impairments, cognitive disorders, and other disabilities can join in on the social media buzz. It's about bringing more voices into the mix and making the digital world a more colorful, diverse place.

How Do You Make a Hashtag Accessible?

Making accessible hashtags isn't rocket science. Here's the 411:

1. PascalCase: Have you noticed a hashtag where each word starts with a capital letter, like #LoveYourPet? That's PascalCase, and it's a big help for readability and screen readers. (Sometimes this gets called “CamelCase” instead, but CamelCase actually begins with a lowercase letter instead, for example, #loveYourPet). In 2012, Susan Boyle’s new album was promoted using a hashtag and would have gone much better using PascalCase like this: #SusanAlbumParty.

An example of an all lowercase hashtag is demonstrated by this image. It might now be suitable for work. It is easy to misread "Susan Album Party" as "sus anal bum party" because there is no indication where the words end or begin.
This is an example of how the previous all-lowercase example looks with the first letter of each word capitalized. It's easy to read "Susan Album Party."

2. Keep It Short And Sweet: No one likes super long, complicated hashtags. The shorter and simpler, the better. When they are too long, it can also make it easier for human error.

This image is of a hashtag all in lowercase that reads "this hashtag is way too long" without any spaces between words.

3. Skip the Shortcuts: Writing the full words in your hashtag is better unless it's a well-known abbreviation or acronym. You don't want to leave anyone scratching their heads.

4. Test Run: Planning on a new hashtag? Give it a test run with a screen reader or another accessibility tool first; better safe than sorry. NVDA is a free, easy-to-install desktop screen reader you can try out! You can also turn on VoiceOver on your Apple Device or TalkBack on your Android device.

The digital world keeps changing, and we believe a focus on accessibility should be part of that progress. Accessible hashtags are a simple way to do just that. By making our hashtags clear and easy to understand, we can make social media a place where everyone feels welcome. And just look at how beautiful these hashtags are (an example from one of our recent LinkedIn posts): #MarketingStrategy #MarketingPartner #MarketingAgency #StrategicGrowth #Inspiration #DoAndBeBetter #DoAndBeAgency

DO&Be Agency has helped builders across the country develop meaningful marketing and brand strategies. We have seen the data and impact of crafting an inclusive brand strategy; please contact our team if you are ready to take some proactive steps and would like us to guide you as you go.


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