Reels are the hottest most competitive format on Instagram. They are highly addictive and can yield plenty of views or follows. If you’ve been focusing on short-form videos, I applaud you.
But don’t put all of your eggs in one basket! By diversifying your content, you can establish a stronger presence on Instagram and even boost engagement.
Carousel posts can do just that. If you've been sleeping on carousel posts, keep reading and I'll clue you in about this highly engaging format and leave you creative ideas best practices for making them a part of your social media strategy.
What is an Instagram Carousel post?
A Carousel is a slideshow within an Instagram post, comprised of photos, videos, or both photos and videos that users can manually control by either swiping on the Instagram mobile app or clicking the arrow on the desktop version of Instagram.
According to Social Insider, Carousels have higher engagement rates than all other types of posts—anywhere from 1.65% to 5.13% higher.
Carousels make a viewer pause and engage. A single image post only encourages a user to scroll down (and maybe a click to expand and read the caption), whereas a carousel requires a click to expand and swipes to continue viewing the slides.
People love swiping. Just like on dating apps. And cat adoption apps.
If you’ve managed to grab their attention with the first slide, they need to “open” the post and take action to get to the next slide, which means they are effectively interacting with your content.
ProTip: When you are not sure which images and videos you want to group together, just upload them all to the UNUM app where you can experiment with the order of slides and create multiple versions of Carousels for comparison. It's better for your workflow than posting directly to IG.
Creative ideas for Carousel content
Instagram grid posts are usually a moment in time, and Reels are snippets of life in motion. Carousels present a unique opportunity to layer information or visuals to tell a story, come to a conclusion, or lead into a CTA.
The most practical use of a Carousel is to share a group of photos and videos that belong together, so you don’t flood your feed with multiple posts about the same thing. However, you can use Carousels strategically and with purpose.
Here are the top reasons for creating IG Carousels and examples of brands that got it right. After checking out these 9 ways to use Carousels, keep scrolling to find out how you can create seamless Instagram Carousel posts to keep your feed fresh and diversify your content.
Carousel posts are the perfect format for educational content since it needs to be delivered in a step-by-step manner—lessons, how-tos, unboxing, product care, and hacks.
Data and infographics
Statistics are often delivered in sets, using graphs, charts, Venn diagrams, and more. Viewers can take their time to see each stat and swipe forward to see the next one when ready. They can even swipe backward to review and compare stats.
A few brands or figures that might benefit from this are financial institutions, news outlets, politicians, medical professionals, academics, and NPOs. Any brand that is giving back through volunteer work or donating proceeds can leverage carousel posts to show the world how many people they have helped annually.
In a series of photos or videos, teach followers how to use, apply, set up, or operate your product. Or teach specific techniques like Nail Boo does in this “split nail tutorial.
When I really like a product, I get excited about the story behind the brand. Who started it? What did they set out to achieve? What did they see missing in the market? These are all questions you can answer in a carousel post.
Of course, your mission statement and story will be in the About Us section of your website, but you always want to have it on your social media channels for more exposure.
Behind the scenes
Show the various phases of production for your product. Or if you are an artist, give glimpses of your creative process. Pan’s Mushroom Jerky was clever enough to use a carousel post to canvass their Instagram following for new employees. Notice how they started with a graphic image and continued with short videos of the factory.
A carousel is perfect for showing off a new model, design, style, or color. Multiple images allow you show your product from all angles with captions to provide information about how it is made or what inspired it. My favorite brand of headphones, UrbanEars, recently launched headphones made of recycled plastic bottles and they used a Carousel to show off the new product.
A celebration, convention, trade show, launch party, holiday gathering, happy hour, or job fair a just a few examples of events worthy of posting on IG in a carousel. One post contains the greatest moments in a series of photos and short videos. @plantblerd uses a Carousel post to highlight a book signing she attended at the New York Botanical Garden.
A series of images or videos containing an influencer using your product is the perfect way to advertise. Seeing your product in action and being utilized by real people makes your brand seem more relatable and personal. @yourcatbackpack cleverly paired its influencer content with an invite to an event.
This is an easy way to get viewers to engage. Use the first image in the carousel to announce a trivia question or quiz, and then use the next slide to display it. Then come up with a clever way to have them submit the answer along with user-generated content.
Rice to Riches, a rice pudding joint in New York City, asks followers to post a picture of themselves at a booth within the shop and tag them with the answer to the question.
Carousel post best practices
Diversify your content by producing a combination of Reels, Stories, and Carousel posts. Some people enjoy “still content” on social media as opposed to constantly revolving video clips. It presents an opportunity to digest information, take in an image and move on to the next slide at the viewer’s pace.
Carousels tend to have higher engagement rates, so take advantage of this fact with content that invites viewers to participate such as a quiz, question, or selfie. Look at what competitors or similar brands are doing to get fresh ideas.
Stick to brand fonts and colors for a cohesive visual experience. Consistency builds trust in your brand. Make sure each carousel post has a clear intention or takeaway, so your content is valuable to users and has a higher chance of being shared or saved.
Did you know that you can plan Carousel posts from within the UNUM app? It makes organizing photos and videos much easier and eliminates the noise of social media. You can also schedule your carousel posts for days, weeks, or months out so you have a bird's eye view of your content strategy.
UNUM is your best tool for planning, creating, and executing beautiful social media feeds and stories. Signup today for a free account.
Photo by SHVETS production