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How to Use Instagram Carousels to 10x Engagement [Guide]

Instagram carousels get way more reach and engagement than regular posts. Here’s how to make carousel posts part of your Instagram strategy.

Katie Sehl, Shannon Tien July 25, 2022
How to Use Instagram Carousels to 10x Engagement [Guide] | Hootsuite

Instagram carousel posts are one of the most engaging formats brands can use on the platform. Hootsuite’s own social media team finds that, on average, their carousel posts get 1.4x more reach and 3.1x more engagement than regular posts on Instagram.

The temptation to swipe left, it seems, is hard to resist — especially when there’s a persuasive cover slide. Give your followers the chance to stop doomscrolling and start swoonscrolling with thumb-stopping carousel posts.

Bonus: Get 5 free, customizable Instagram carousel templates and start creating beautifully designed content for your feed now.

What is an Instagram carousel post?

An Instagram carousel is a post with up to 10 photos or videos. Mobile Instagram users can view carousel posts by swiping left, while desktop users can click through using the arrow button on the right-hand side of a post.

Like any other Instagram post, you can include a caption, image alt-text, a geotag, and account and product tags on each image in your carousel. People can like, comment, and share your carousel post.

View this post on Instagram

Surprise! 🎉 Swipe left on the post above to see more. Starting today, you can share up to 10 photos and videos in one post on Instagram. With this update, you no longer have to choose the single best photo or video from an experience you want to remember. When uploading to your feed, you’ll see a new icon to select multiple photos and videos. It’s easy to control exactly how your post will look. You can tap and hold to change the order, apply a filter to everything at once or edit one by one. These posts have a single caption and are square-only for now. On a profile grid, you’ll notice the first photo or video of a post has a little icon, which means there’s more to see. And in feed, you’ll see blue dots at the bottom of these posts to let you know you can swipe to see more. You can like and comment on them just like a regular post. This update is available as part of Instagram version 10.9 for iOS in the Apple App Store and for Android on Google Play. To learn more, check out

A post shared by Instagram (@instagram) on

When an IG carousel is published, a small square icon appears in the post’s upper right corner. As someone flips to the second image, the icon is replaced with a counter that indicates the number of frames. Small dots also appear at the bottom of a post to mark progress through the carousel.

How to create an Instagram carousel post

When creating an Instagram carousel, start with a concept. Figure out why multiple photos or videos make sense for your content instead of a standard image post, collage post, video, or Instagram story.

Once you know what type of content you plan to use, sketch out a storyboard to get an idea of how many frames you’ll need. Then, you can decide if your carousel will jump from one image to the next or have a continuous, panoramic effect.

Here’s how to make a carousel post on Instagram:

1. Add all relevant photos to your photo library.

2. Open the Instagram app and click the + icon from the navigation bar.

3. Tap the layered square icon right below the post preview.

Phone screenshot with the first step to creating an Instagram carousel

4. Select up to 10 photos and/or videos from your photo library. The order in which you select the media files is the order that they will follow in your carousel.

5. Tap Next in the top right corner of the screen.

6. Apply filters to all of your images/videos or edit each of them individually by tapping the icon with two overlaying circles. When you’re done with your edits, tap Next.

Editing individual images or videos before posting an Instagram carousel

7. Add your caption, geotag, account tags and hashtags.

8. Tap Advanced Settings to add alt text and adjust preferences for likes, view counts, and commenting.

Instagram carousel advanced settings

9. Tap Share.

Tip: Double-check that all your frames are in the correct order before you publish. You can’t reorder the slides after you share. (However, you can delete individual slides after posting your carousel)

How to schedule Instagram carousel posts

You can schedule Instagram posts (including carousels) using Creator Studio, Facebook Business Suite, or the web version of the Instagram app. (We’ve got detailed instructions for scheduling Instagram carousels using Meta’s native tools here.)

But if your brand is active on other social media platforms, a social media management tool like Hootsuite can help. You can schedule all of your content in advance using one simple dashboard.

With Hootsuite, you can create and easily publish carousel posts directly to Instagram. Here’s how.

1. Go to Planner and tap New post to launch Compose.

2. Select the Instagram account you want to publish to.

Composer page on Hootsuite

3. Include your caption in the Text box.

4. Go to Media and tap Select files to upload. Select all the images you want to include in your carousel. All selected images should appear under Media.

5. Use the yellow Post now button to publish your carousel to Instagram immediately or click Schedule for later to pick a date and time to publish your post. Then, tap Schedule. The post will show up in your Planner at the time you have scheduled it for.

That’s it! Your post will go live on the date and time you selected.

How to schedule Instagram carousel posts from your phone

If you’d rather schedule and publish Instagram carousels from your phone, Hootsuite makes it easy to do that too!

  1. Just open the Hootsuite app on your phone and tap Compose.
    schedule instagram carousels from hootsuite mobile - compose
  2. Select the Instagram account you want to publish to and choose the photos or videos for your carousel from your phone’s library.
  3. Write your caption in the Text box, then tap Next.
    publish instagram carousel from hootsuite mobile
  4. You can choose to Publish nowAutoschedule at the best time for your account, or set up your own Custom schedule.

And you’re done! Your carousel will go live at the time and date you’ve selected — no push notifications required!

Why should you use Instagram carousel posts?

These days, everyone’s posting photo dumps, but it’s not just a trend — carousels should be part of your overall Instagram marketing strategy. 

Sure, including more images or videos in a single post increases your chances of generating a high engagement rate. But posting engaging carousels can also help you get on the Instagram algorithm’s good side. 

Because carousels are interactive, users spend more time looking at them than at traditional Instagram feed posts. This tells the algorithm that your target audience finds your content interesting and valuable and can lead to more people seeing your posts in their feeds.

Carousels are also great for easily sharing:

  • Different angles and close-ups of a product
  • How-tos and step-by-step guides
  • Before-and-after transformations

For more specific use cases and examples, scroll down to the bottom of this post.

Instagram carousel sizes and specs

Like regular posts, Instagram carousels can be published in square, landscape, and portrait formats.

Just keep in mind that all post sizes must be uniform. The shape you choose for the first slide will also apply to the rest of the carousel.

Don’t be afraid to post a mix of videos and images, either.

Instagram carousel sizes:

  • Landscape: 1080 x 566 pixels
  • Portrait: 1080 x 1350 pixels
  • Square: 1080 x 1080 pixels
  • Aspect ratio: landscape (1.91:1), square (1:1), vertical (4:5)
  • Recommended image size: Width of 1080 pixels, height between 566 and 1350 pixels (depending on whether the image is landscape or portrait)

Instagram video carousel specs:

  • Length: 3 to 60 seconds
  • Recommended formats include .MP4 and .MOV
  • Aspect ratios: landscape (1.91:1), square (1:1), vertical (4:5)
  • Maximum video size: 4GB

Find up-to-date social media image size requirements here.

Free Instagram carousel templates

Want to take your carousels beyond “ten pictures from the same vacation”? Start by customizing one of our five free, professionally designed Instagram carousel templates in Canva.

Bonus: Get 5 free, customizable Instagram carousel templates and start creating beautifully designed content for your feed now.

16 ways to use Instagram carousel posts for marketing

Looking for Instagram carousel inspiration? Here’s how brands use photo carousels to promote products or services on the platform.

1. Tell a story

The children’s publishing arm of Random House knows a thing or two about spinning a story. Here’s how they do it with an Instagram carousel post.

2. Reveal something

Which product is Rare Beauty promoting in this carousel? You’ll have to swipe through to find out.

3. Recommend similar products or services

If you like the first band featured in Coachella’s Instagram carousel, chances are high you’ll want to see the musicians featured.

4. Show off the details

Clothing brand Free Label shares fit information on one of their most popular products using an Instagram carousel. The Canadian brand uses the format to highlight its apparel and build anticipation for upcoming sales.

5. Illustrate scale

Data journalist and illustrator Mona Chalabi uses the multi-image Instagram carousel to brilliant effect. In this example, the swipe effect conveys both scale and disproportion better than any single image could.

View this post on Instagram

No justice. No peace. One of the men 4 men who killed George Floyd has been charged with third-degree murder. It doesn’t feel like a victory. A man is still dead and police officers know that most of the time, there will be no repercussions for the violence they inflict. When you see this whole image, when you don’t slice it up into 10 small pieces, all that’s visible is one long bar. Killing after killing that goes unpunished. That’s why people are still protesting *after* the news that Derek Chauvin has been charged. It’s not nearly enough. Let’s go back to the start and look at the 25 times that police officers supposedly had to face consequences for their actions. History tells us that even if all four men who killed George are convicted, their sentences will be generous (unlike the way the criminal justice punishes black men). Here is a breakdown of the sentences that were given those 25 times: ➖ Unknown sentence = 4 ➖ Just probation = 3 ➖ 3 months in jail = 1 ➖ 1 year in jail, 3 years suspended = 1 ➖ 1 year in prison = 1 ➖ 18 months in prison = 1 ➖ 2.5 years in prison = 1 ➖ 4 years in prison = 1 ➖ 5 years in prison = 1 ➖ 6 years in prison = 1 ➖ 16 years in prison = 1 ➖ 20 years in prison = 1 ➖ 30 years in prison = 2 ➖ 40 years in prison = 1 ➖ 50 years in prison = 1 ➖ life in prison = 3 ➖ life in prison without parole, plus 16 years = 1 Source: Mapping Police Violence (run by @samswey, @iamderay & @MsPackyetti)

A post shared by Mona Chalabi (@monachalabi) on

6. Showcase your process

Illustrator Kamwei Fong shows you the final product and her process, bringing viewers closer to her art one slide at a time.

View this post on Instagram

Kitty No.39. New #limitededition prints on my Etsy. Link in bio. Cheers 🍷😃⚡️

A post shared by Kamwei Fong (@kamweiatwork) on

7. Share important information

Nothing but the facts here. Welfact uses simple and understandable slides in this and several other Instagram carousels. To maximize shareability, treat each post as a self-contained unit. That increases the odds (by up to 10!) that someone will share your post in an Instagram story.

8. Share a recipe (or any how-to)

Who needs a recipe book when you can follow Cleanfoodcrush’s Instagram carousel as instructions for her Greek chickpea salad?

9. Crack a joke

Chipotle turned a common complaint (“Cilantro tastes like soap!”) into a novelty product — then used an Instagram carousel to tease its launch.

10. Share a tutorial

Canadian brand Kotn uses Instagram carousels to share tips on how to care for its products.

11. Share secret hacks

Wendy’s secret menu carousels dare you not to click through and discover “secret” food hacks.

12. Make a powerful statement

This post from Nike was timed with Ben Simmons’ NBA Rookie of the Year award win. It shows how to use the Instagram carousel to make and punctuate a statement. As one commenter notes: “I love how it uses the slide to change perception.”

View this post on Instagram

Young King 👑 ⠀ @bensimmons #NBAAwards #KiaROY

A post shared by Nike Basketball (@nikebasketball) on

13. Generate engagement

Take a quick look at the McDonald’s India feed and it’s clear that the Instagram carousel has been a winning format for the account. This post, among others, is a good reminder that a “swipe left” call to action never hurts. In fact, Socialinsider’s study finds the CTA increases engagement.

14. Share testimonials

Break larger stories into “sound bites” using multiple images. This can be a good way to share testimonials, employees as ambassadors, artisans, partners, or other interviews you’d like to share.

15. Keep your feed aesthetically consistent

Patagonia uses Instagram carousels to create a magazine gatefold effect. This is a good way to maintain a consistent look, especially if you want your feed to be image-only but still want to share text.

16. Highlight important data

This Hootsuite Instagram carousel parses findings from the 2022 Q3 Digital Trends Report into easily digestible stats and takeaways.

Manage your Instagram presence alongside your other social channels and save time using Hootsuite. From a single dashboard you can schedule and publish carousels, edit images, and measure performance. Try it free today.

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By Katie Sehl

Katie is a writer and photographer based in Toronto. She used to be indecisive, but now she's not sure.

By Shannon Tien

Shannon Tien is the Chief Editor of the Hootsuite Blog and co-creator of the social media awards show, Fridge-Worthy. She has been writing about social media and other topics for over 11 years. You can read more of her award-winning articles at The National Post, The Globe and Mail, The Walrus, The Believer, and more, and find her giving social media advice on video on the Hootsuite Labs YouTube channel. See more of her credentials on LinkedIn or her website.

Shannon lives in Vancouver, BC. She likes to spend her free time watching rom coms and going to the beach with her dog, Birdie.

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