Want to maximize Instagram Carousel for your business?
It’s a multiple image posting feature that lets you combine up to 10 photos and/or videos in a slideshow.
Instagram Carousel can be an exciting tool for brands and businesses to:
- Maximize engagement.
- Refine storytelling.
- Beautify their feed.
- And even optimize ad placement.
So you’ll want to learn how to use it well!
This article was originally published in September 2017 and completely updated in April 2020.
Why use Instagram Carousel?
For longtime users of Instagram, what’s consistently been a bother is the visual clutter.
Say, for example, you wanted to post about an interesting process or an event that happened at your company. To do that well, you needed about six photos.
With Instagram, your only option would be to post one photo after the other in six separate posts, taking readers along with you – but also perhaps losing them as they had to scroll through your photos and others in their feeds, too.
And posting six photos in a row is sure to lose you followers who aren’t quite that in love with your brand.
Fortunately, Instagram came up with the answer: multi-image postings.
Using this capability, one billion Instagram users can now see posts that include up to 10 images. It’s visual storytelling at its best, giving you the capability to tell a story that’s longer than a single image and more robust than a few short hashtags.
So you can take that event at your company and show its progress from start to finish, or gather the best images that showcase its prime moments.
And one amazing benefit is double exposure!
If a follower scrolls past a carousel post showing the first image, Instagram will show them the same post a second time with another photo or video from the carousel.
Talk about win-win!
Instagram Carousel Stats
But what do the stats say? How do carousels perform IRL?
A recent study by SocialInsider showed that carousel use is on the rise – and for good reason!
In the 3 1/2 years since their introduction, carousels have grown to 19.44% of Instagram content, as of July 2020.
Carousels bring higher engagement rates than either videos or images!
Carousels outperform images and videos, reaching an average engagement rate per post of 1.92%, compared to 1.74% for images and 1.45% for videos.
When using all 10 carousel slides, the average engagement rate goes over 2%.
Carousels that mix images with videos bring the highest engagement rates per post, averaging 2.33%.
So you can see that carousel posts are a must!
How to Use Instagram Carousel: The Basics
First, let’s start with a look at how you make an Instagram carousel post.
There are four main steps:
Step 1 | To make an Instagram carousel, you need to go to the app and tap the + icon as you would normally. When you get to the photo folder, there’s a button that says ‘select multiple’ that you want to tap.
Step 2 | Next, you can pick the photos. You can add up to 10 photos or videos or a mixture. Select the ones you want and tap ‘next’.
Step 3 | If you want to add filters, this is the time to do it. You can also edit the photos to get them just right. Then click ‘next’ again.
Step 4 | The final step is to write the caption for the carousel. The same caption shows on each image so think about something that fits them all. You can tag friends and add a location then share onto your feed.
Infographics courtesy of SalesForce.
You can have up to 10 photos or videos in any carousel, but you must have a minimum of two. Videos need to be under 4GB in file size and less than 60 seconds.
You can use the 1:1 ratio that is ideal for normal IG posts or you can use landscape or portrait formats. The only thing to remember is all images or video must be the same format or ratio within the carousel.
While we were once locked into all squares, 1n August 2017, Instagram announced:
After we first rolled out in February, these posts could only be made up of squares. Now, when uploading your photos and videos, you’ll have more creative flexibility with the ability to share in landscape and portrait formats. To keep the experience smooth and consistent, however, all photos and videos in your post must be shared in the same format.
Best Practices for Instagram Carousel
Before you post, think about the goal of the carousel. There are some ideas below to help with this. Use this goal to consider what images to use and how to caption it.
When deciding what pictures to use, look at one that is eye-catching as the first one. Make that first image count and grab people’s attention.
Make sure all the images or video are of high quality. Use a minimum 1080 pixel width so they look great on any size screen.
Don’t be afraid to use call to actions. Tell people to swipe through in your caption to keep them interacting with all of the images.
Pin the infographic below to remind you, and keep scrolling for lots more info!
11 Ideas for Businesses to use Instagram Carousel
Show off a new product
There are lots of times when one image just doesn’t work for promoting a new product. You need more than one!
And that’s where carousel posts are perfect. You can show different colors or angles. Or include some user generated content. Having multiple images makes this all possible.
Pick a selection of pictures that show the product in different ways and even add a video if suitable. Use the multiple pictures to help answer questions customers might have and help make buying it easy.
You can even use this idea for digital products or services. Show shots that demonstrate what your app does, snippets from inside your course or examples of the printables included.
View this post on Instagram
Create a catalogue to show details of a product range
Instagram carousel posts are also perfect for a catalog style post. Here you can show a whole range of related products within a single post.
Let’s say you have a new fashion range with tops, trousers, and even accessories. You can show them together in a single post, different combinations or shots or a quick video.
Maybe you are selling a new range of pans. Show each item in the set and some shots of them cooking up tasty meals to inspire your buyers.
Showcase a product with a personalized recommendation (ideal for affiliate marketing)
Carousels are great to show off products, but they don’t have to be just ones you are selling. It also works well for recommendations such as affiliate products or products you are endorsing for sponsored posts.
You can show how you use a product or what you love about it.
Brands can also use this kind of content created by customers to provide personalized recommendations. Skincare and beauty brands use these showing recommendations by skin type or age group.
View this post on Instagram
Create a before and after series to show results
Reveal posts are always popular on Instagram and carousels are perfect to take this one step further. Your audience can get the whole process in one post from before using the product, through the stages to the outcome.
It is also a great one to add some user-generated content. Show how your customers have used the product and the transformation they achieved. Inspire others with real-world results from your product.
This works for services too. Interior designers can show a room before the makeover, what they did and afterwards. Digital services can use analytics screenshots to show the changes that a customer has seen while working with them.
Tell the brand’s story and show off its personality
You can easily tell your brand’s story with carousel posts and get plenty of personality into it. Plus, by ensuring that the first image fits with your Instagram aesthetic, it will still look just right on your grid of nine posts.
Share team photos, shots of the workplace, your home office, even shots from early in the business. Focus on the human element and what makes your business or brand different from others.
View this post on Instagram
Show off customer testimonials or user-generated content
User-generated content and customer testimonials are powerful pieces of marketing and adding them to carousel posts is a winner. The combination of seeing the product then real reviews of it helps people decide to buy.
If customers have tagged the brand in photos of the product in action, reach out, and ask to use them in carousels. Transform written reviews into graphics to use alongside product shots or video.
Use text with images and a clear call to action
Don’t be afraid to test some text with images and create a clear call to action for some posts. Maybe you have a new freebie and want people to sign up to your email list to get it? Showcase the freebie, tell them a bit about it and prompt them to go sign up.
Text isn’t limited to just the caption so make the most of all of the features to tell the most story possible per post.
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Recap a recent event
When there’s been a big event, it is easy to fill your feed with posts about it. And people can get a little sick of it. But a carousel post solves the problem.
Share photos and videos from the event in a single post and don’t fill your follower’s feeds with a series of posts.
You can also tag people who attended in the posts and use shots they took with their permission. Mix up videos from the event, promo content and still photos for an engaging post.
Test different images by creating a story with them
If you have a bunch of promotional images for a product or service, why not test what works by creating a story with them and putting them into a carousel? That way you can see what gets a reaction from people and improves engagement.
Or you can make images specifically for the carousel to tell a story. This might be something funny, about the brand or even a customer’s story. Keep people moving through the images to get to the end.
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Use a video in a different way
Lots of carousel posts have a static first image and then use video in the content. But you can repurpose video you made for other platforms and add it up front.
Moving content grabs attention and that’s a great way to use this kind of post. Start your carousel with a video then move into still photos, or graphics for a different approach to whatever you are promoting.
Tease out latest blog content
If you are creating blog content, podcasts, or even video content, use a carousel post to tease out some of the highlights and drive traffic to it.
If you have video and images made for the post, you can use some of these. Add some text-based posts to prompt action and ask people to check out the post for more. Don’t tell them too much of the content though – make sure there’s a reason to go to the post!
View this post on Instagram
These 8 ideas are showcased on the infographic below:
- Create a virtual catalog
- Tell a sequential story
- Create an album
- Incorporate more video
- A-B (CDEFG…) test
- Show your products in action
- Show your results
- Use text in your images
Get more detail on these at SalesForce.
Data-backed Carousel tips
Before we jump into carousel ads, here a few more tips based on the SocialInsider study mentioned towards the beginning of this article. Graphics elements courtesy of SocialInsider.
Because carousels offer more engagement than images or video, you’ll want to include them in your content strategy.
But they take more time too!
Don’t even think about making all your Instagram posts carousels. Consider committing to one per week.
Use all 10 slides when possible. Using all of the slides will give you the best engagement.
Mix images and video! Include at least one video to maximize engagement.
Be sure to use “swipe left” in the caption! Ideal placement would be in the first sentence or two, since the visible part of the caption is only 125 characters.
Pin these tips for later!
How to use Instagram Carousel Ads
Not only can you use carousel posts to increase engagement and interaction with your normal feed, but you can also make them into ads.
Carousel ads work in the same way as normal carousel posts – you can add up to 10 cards and use a mixture of video and photos. The video needs to be less than 60 seconds, and everything needs to be 1:1 ratio to be an ad.
One row of headline text will appear, and Instagram recommends less than 20% text on the images. You can still use hashtags, up to 30 per post and there’s a cap on text at 2200 characters.
Carousel ad tips
But how can you use Instagram carousel ads and what kind of best practices will help you with them?
Here are a few pointers.
Think about your target audience
Be selective with the audience you choose for these ads.
For example, first-time viewers might be more interested in an ad about the benefits of the product. Repeat customers might react better to new specific products than brand messaging.
Use the ad to tell a story
Telling a story with a carousel post is a great use of them and this can also work for ads. Normally, brand stories aren’t great for ads but here you can mix them in with the 10 photos or videos to help build brand awareness.
Showcase a product and how it works
If you have a product you can display how it works in photos, this is great content for a carousel ad. Or you could use those before and after shots to show the transformation it offers. Show the benefit of your product in visual ways.
Make use of the bigger space
While there’s still the rule about 20% text, the space for carousel ads is larger. This means you have room for bigger text or images than a normal Instagram post. Find ways to use this space such as panorama shots. Or a series of photos that move through a product – car interiors are one example of this.
Pin this article to Pinterest! (continued below)
Instagram Carousel ad size and specs
Carousel ads allow you to show a series of scrollable images or videos rather than just one single image.
This ad feature can link to your Facebook Page or website directly using a “Learn More” button.
Here are some specifications of Carousel ads:
- Minimum number of carousel cards: 2
- Maximum number of carousel cards: 10 successive carousel cards
- Aspect ratio: 1:1 (recommended)
- Resolution: 1080 x 1080 pixels (recommended)
- Image file format: .jpg and .png
- Image maximum file size: 30MB
- Video length: up to 240 minutes (15 seconds recommended)
- Video file format: .mp4
- Video maximum file size: 4GB
Conclusion: Make the most of IG Carousel posts
Paid or organic, carousel posts offer something different to use for your brand.
There are lots of ways to use them and only a few basic rules to master.
You can even use carousel ads to boost their profile and reach a specific audience.
Now let us know in a comment: Will you try Instagram Carousel?