How to Use Instagram Carousel Posts: 10 Tips

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Kayla Carmicheal
Kayla Carmicheal



When opening Instagram, how often do you "swipe left to see more?" Maybe it’s to see that a blog post from your favorite media site was uploaded. Or to watch the entire trailer for the latest season of "Stranger Things" (guilty).


Whether you double-tapped on a "Throwback Thursday" post or commented on how helpful that newsletter on managing spreadsheets was, these engagements are an excellent use of Instagram’s Carousel feature, an expansive tool that fits into countless marketing campaigns.


Instagram Carousel Ads

Instagram’s Carousels allow an account to use multiple media (images or video) in one post. This is indicated by a post having the icon of two squares in the upper-right corner.

instagram-carousel-iconImage source: TechCrunch

Businesses are using the Carousel feature on Instagram to serve their current customers and generate new leads. As the number one social network for organic engagement, it’s a cost-effective, succinct, and engaging way to communicate your marketing message.

Carousels don’t necessarily have to be ads. In order to create a Carousel Ad, there are two requirements: switching to an Instagram Business account and having a connected Facebook Business page. That way, you can create Instagram Carousels from your Facebook page.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to creating a Carousel Ad:

  1. Open Facebook’s Power Editor.
  2. Select the campaign you want to be in the ad, click "Create Ad Set."
  3. Fill out the information requested, including targeting and placements options.
  4. In the placements stage, make sure only Instagram is selected.
  5. Proceed with Facebook’s instructions and click "Create."
  6. Your Carousel ad will then be published on Instagram, in either a Story or on your main feed.

Instagram offers two types of Carousel Ads for Stories that cater to your objective, assets, and target audiences: Native Stories and Expandable Stories.

For Native Stories, all of the cards are automatically displayed, meaning viewers won’t have to "swipe to see more," the ad will autoplay. Because these cards are automatic, there’s a max number of three for each ad.

A Native Story is an effective Carousel Ad for a full-length commercial or demonstration. Think of them as commercial breaks as viewers tap through their stories.

Expandable Stories are more traditional. Viewers can tap to keep watching and can tap through a max of 10 cards. Expandable Stories are great for mixed media ads and audiences who usually buy on mobile.

Both Story formats support mixed media and allow one CTA per ad. If any card, or all the cards, are seen by the same viewer, only one impression is counted. Finally, these ads can either have different web destinations per card or one destination for the entire ad.

New to the Carousel feature? We’ve put together 10 ways you can start using Carousels to promote your business.

10 Ways to Use Instagram Carousels

1. Product launch

Instagram is a perfect way to tease your followers with your next product launch. Use the Carousel to include pictures, specs, and even a first look, like Audio-Technica did below with their new headphones.

Since Instagram is known for business engagement, (about 80% of Instagram users follow a business), this is a great chance to answer questions and build hype. For instance, if a customer asked, "Are these headphones available for purchase?" Audio-Technica could mention them in a reply comment so others with the same question can see the answer.

Image source: Audio-Technica

2. Full-length videos/images

Have a full-length commercial or photo that’s too big for Instagram? Give it the Carousel treatment. TechCrunch highlights a packing robot from Amazon in the two-video Carousel featured below. Sometimes full videos can do what a commercial or quick clip can’t.

Image source: TechCrunch

3. Before and after

One of the first questions asked when releasing a new product – or marketing an existing one – is "How does it work?" The Container Store uses Carousels to answer that question. Visually showing the benefits of your product gives your target audience the chance to see how your product fits into their lives.

Image source: The Container Store

4. Recap

If your business hosts events, and you’d like to boost attendance and thank attendees, consider using Carousels to recap those events. Followers can swipe through and reminisce on that rooftop dinner or RSVP for the next one. Take this example, from INBOUND:

Image source: INBOUND

5. Blog content

A secret weapon to promoting blog content? Teasing it on Instagram. IBM does this well by using the Carousel to tease their blog posts without giving the message away – a throwback theme for a throwback post.

Image source: IBM

6. Brand personality

Instagram is the perfect place to build your brand and company culture. Show the people behind the screen and highlight those who make your business what it is. Check out how Boston-based coffee company Pavement does this by spotlighting their employees and their favorite coffee blend.

Image source: Pavement Coffeehouse

7. Customer testimonials

Ecommerce giant Shopify uses Carousels to promote its customer reviews in a weekly podcast. This is a great way to generate more leads and maintain existing customer relationships.

Image source: Shopify

8. Group themed images

Who doesn’t love dogs? Social media management platform Hootsuite sure does. They posted a Carousel of everyone’s best friend in incredible costumes. Not only does this showcase company culture, but it shows how using Carousel themes brings vibrancy to a business’s page.

Image source: Hootsuite

9. Storytelling

Carousels can do more than announce a product. They can also tell the story of a potential customer. Pepsi recently posted a comic-book style Carousel about a sixth sense: Pepsi style. They released it right around the time "Spiderman: Far From Home" was released, and it shows how Carousels can build suspense.

Image source: Pepsi

10. Process demonstration

Orangetheory Fitness has Carousels on their Instagram page to demonstrate how fitness helps the body in more ways than on the scale. Demonstrating a process is a great way of engaging potential customers who might be on the fence about buying a product. If your business offers long-term results, Carousels can be used to show the progression of the benefits your customers will enjoy.

Image source: Orangetheory Fitness

Instagram users are currently limited to adding 10 photos/videos per Carousel post. Use those 10 to your benefit, but don’t commit information overload. Images keep the content light and ultimately drive traffic to your website. Instagram is an aid, not the main event.

Don’t limit yourself to only photos or videos. Mix it up. Including a snippet of an interview as well as a promotional image is a smart way to show customers and leads what you’re all about.

Adding a consistent theme to your account makes it stand out and adds brand personality. Use carousels to post what you normally wouldn’t on your website. For more tips on how to wield Instagram marketing, check out our ultimate guide.



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