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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Just open the Hootsuite app on your phone and tap Compose.
Select the Instagram account you want to publish to and choose the photos or videos for your carousel from your phone’s library.
Write your caption in the Text box, then tap Next.
You can choose to Publish now, Autoschedule 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.