Close button for feature banner

See Where Your Brand Stands Against Your Industry

Download Dash Hudson's Cross-Channel Industry Benchmarks

7 Creative Ways To Use Instagram Carousels

Jennifer Meech
January 18, 2024
Last Updated On
green instagram carousel post blog header

Instagram and TikTok’s carousel feature is a canvas for creativity, allowing brands and individuals alike to unfold their stories across multiple slides. Whether showcasing a step-by-step guide, revealing behind-the-scenes glimpses, or creating a panoramic masterpiece, carousels offer a unique way to capture and hold your audience's attention. In this post, we dive into seven innovative methods to transform your Instagram carousel posts from simple photo collections into captivating narratives that resonate with your followers. We’ll also touch on:

  • What is an Instagram carousel post?
  • How to create an Instagram carousel post.
  • Why you should be using IG carousels.
  • Instagram carousel sizes and specs.
  • What do carousels or slideshows look like on other platforms?
  • How to schedule your carousel posts.
  • Creative ideas for carousel posts with brand examples.
  • Carousel post trends.

What Is an Instagram Carousel Post?

An Instagram carousel, also known as a carousel Instagram or IG carousel, is a versatile post format allowing up to 10 images or videos in a single, swipeable post. This feature enriches storytelling on the platform and enables users to share a series of related content seamlessly to engage their audience deeply.

Carousel posts encourage users to interact with your content longer, boosting engagement rates and enhancing visibility in the Instagram algorithm. This format is perfect for detailed narratives like tutorials, event recaps or product showcases that offer a narrative depth beyond standard static posts. In essence, an Instagram carousel is a dynamic tool for creative and compelling storytelling that’s vital to amplify your Instagram presence.

Creating an Instagram Carousel Post

Learning how to make a slideshow on Instagram, also known as a carousel post, is a straightforward process. Here's a step-by-step guide, including optional tactics to help craft your own carousel post and help your content stand out on the platform.

Step 1: Open the Instagram App

Begin by launching your Instagram app. This step is obvious, but it is your starting point for creating any type of content, including an IG carousel.

Step 2: Tap the '+' Icon to Create a New Post

On your Instagram home screen, tap the '+' icon. This icon is your gateway to creating new content, including an Instagram carousel post.

Step 3: Select Multiple Photos or Videos

After tapping the '+' icon, choose the 'Post' option. Here, you'll see an icon for selecting multiple photos or videos. Tap this to start creating your carousel post on Instagram.

Step 4: Choose Your Content

Select up to 10 images or videos from your gallery for your carousel Instagram post. Remember, the order in which you select them is the order they will appear in your carousel.

Step 5: Edit Each Slide (Optional)

Instagram allows you to edit each photo or video individually. Apply filters, adjust settings, or crop your images to ensure each slide looks just right.

Step 6: Craft a Compelling Caption

Write a caption that complements your Instagram carousel. A good caption can add context and encourage followers to swipe through all the slides.

Step 7: Add Hashtags and Location Tags (Optional)

Enhance the discoverability of your carousel post by adding relevant Instagram hashtags, people hashtags and a location tag.

Step 8: Share Your Carousel

Once you're satisfied with the arrangement and edits, hit the 'Share' button. Your Instagram carousel post is now live for your audience to enjoy.

Step 9: Monitor Engagement

One last important step is to keep an eye on how your audience interacts with your carousel post. This feedback can be invaluable for future content planning.

The strategy behind creating Instagram carousel posts is about weaving a story that captivates and engages your audience. By following these steps on how to create a carousel post on Instagram, you can effectively use carousel posts to enhance your social media presence and connect with your followers in a more impactful way.

Why You Should Use Instagram Carousel Posts

When weighing the merits of an Instagram carousel vs a Single Image, the advantages of using carousel posts become abundantly clear, especially for brands looking to maximize their impact on Instagram and other platforms. Carousel posts offer a range of benefits that single images simply can't match, making them an essential tool in any social media strategy.

Enhanced Storytelling and Contextual Depth

Carousel posts allow you to weave a more comprehensive narrative. Unlike a single image that offers a snapshot, a carousel can tell a story, showcase a process, or provide detailed views of a product. This depth of context enriches the viewer's experience and understanding.

Higher Engagement Rates

Statistics consistently show that Instagram carousel posts garner higher engagement rates compared to single images. The interactive nature of carousels encourages users to spend more time on your post as they swipe through the content. This increased engagement is crucial for boosting visibility under Instagram's algorithm.

Versatility in Content Presentation

Carousels are incredibly versatile. You can mix and match different types of content, including images, videos and text slides, in a single post. This flexibility allows for creative presentations that can adapt to the message or story you want to convey.

Reduced Content Saturation on Feeds

Instead of posting multiple single images that can saturate your followers' feeds, a carousel consolidates several pieces of content into one post. Hence the recent popularity of ‘photo dumps’ in this format. This approach is less intrusive and more organized, making it more likely for followers to engage with your content.

Showcase Products or Services More Effectively

For brands, carousels offer an excellent way to showcase different features or aspects of a product or service. You can provide various angles, close-ups, reviews and even contextual usage scenarios in a single post, giving potential customers a well-rounded view.

Encourage User Interaction

The swiping action required to view carousel posts naturally encourages more interaction from users. This active engagement is a key factor in increasing the 'stickiness' of your content, keeping users engaged with your brand for longer periods.

Ideal for Tutorials and How-tos

Carousels are perfect for step-by-step tutorials or how-to guides. They allow you to break down information into digestible pieces, making it easier for your audience to follow and understand complex processes.

When considering Instagram carousel vs single Images, the former offers a dynamic, engaging and efficient way to connect with your audience. With their ability to tell deeper stories, drive higher engagement and present content in a versatile and consolidated manner, carousel posts are an invaluable asset for brands aiming to strengthen their presence on Instagram and other social media platforms.

Instagram Carousel Sizes and Specs

When creating visually appealing and correctly formatted Instagram carousel posts, you’ll need to understand the technical aspects, such as image sizes and aspect ratios. Here's a detailed guide on the sizes and specifications for Instagram carousel posts. 

The cover photo for your carousel should be chosen carefully, as it will represent the post on your profile grid. Ensure it's compelling and representative of the entire carousel.

Image Sizes and Aspect Ratios

To ensure the best quality, upload images with a resolution of at least 1080 pixels wide. Instagram compresses images, so starting with high-resolution photos will help maintain their quality.

  • Square Photos/Videos: The ideal size is 1080 x 1080 pixels with an aspect ratio of 1:1.
  • Landscape Photos/Videos: Optimal dimensions are 1080 x 566 pixels, which translates to an aspect ratio of 1.91:1.
  • Portrait Photos/Videos: The recommended size is 1080 x 1350 pixels, giving you an aspect ratio of 4:5.

It's important to note that the size and aspect ratio of the first photo or video in your carousel will dictate the format for the entire series. If your first image is square, all subsequent images or videos will be adjusted to fit a square format.

Video Specifications

  • Length: Videos in carousel posts can be up to 60 seconds long.
  • File Size: The maximum file size for videos is 4GB.
  • Formats: The recommended video formats are MP4 and MOV.

Keep any critical text or elements within the central area of your image or video to avoid cropping issues, especially if you're using different aspect ratios within the same carousel.

Remember that only the first image/video of your carousel will appear in the followers' feeds. Subsequent slides can be viewed by swiping, so make sure your first slide is engaging enough to encourage further swipes.

7 Creative Ideas and Examples for Carousel Posts

Instagram carousel posts offer an engaging way to add variety to your content offerings. Here's a look at some creative ideas for using carousel posts, ranging from step-by-step tutorials to visual storytelling and beyond.

1. Step-by-Step Tutorials

Carousel posts are perfect for tutorials. For instance, a beauty influencer can use a carousel to demonstrate a makeup application process. Each slide can focus on a different step, starting with a clean face and ending with the finished look. This format is not only informative but also visually engaging, which allows followers to see each stage of the process in detail.

quinta brunson on red carpet wearing danessa myricks beauty ig carousel screenshot
Image credit: @danesa_myricks and @danessamyricksbeauty

2. Visual Storytelling

Visual storytelling through carousels allows for a narrative to unfold slide by slide. For example, luxury goods company Kering, which owns Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen to name a few – use a carousel to take followers on a journey to Gucci locations across the globe. Each slide showcases a different city and holiday window display. This method transforms a series of images into a cohesive story, enhancing the viewer's experience.

gucci boutique exterior with horse bit installation ig carousel post
Image credit: @kering_official

3. Showcase a Product or a Process

This is where brands can shine when incorporating carousels into their content mix, showcasing various products, collections or processes. A stellar example of this is The Body Shop's use of the carousel format to showcase the journey of their popular shea butter body cream. Through a series of thoughtfully curated slides, they take the viewer on a visual journey from the initial harvesting of the nuts to the processing methods and finally, to the finished product. This approach informs and connects with the audience on a deeper level, illustrating the brand's values and the craftsmanship behind its products.

body shop shea body butter ig carousel screenshot
Image credit: @thebodyshop

4. UGC Roundups or Photo Dumps

User-generated content (UGC) roundups in carousel format are a great way for brands to engage with their community. For example, during the holiday season, Target shared a UGC roundup carousel post of kids building Target gingerbread houses. This not only promotes the brand but also builds a community by valuing customer contributions. Make sure to follow in Target’s footsteps and ask for permission to share UGC posts beforehand. 

two young boys wear christmas pajamas and stand behind gingerbread houses
Image credit: @target

Another fantastic example of this style comes from e.l.f Cosmetics, where they do weekly round-ups celebrating makeup looks shared by their community. This is how you foster your community and build brand loyalty that lasts. 

woman wearing blush style for winter makeup routine ig carousel post
Image credit: @elfcosmetics

5. Repurposing Content

Repurposing content into a carousel format is an effective way to give it new life. A brand could take key points from long-form content like a webinar or blog post and turn them into a carousel. Each slide could highlight a different point or takeaway, making the content more digestible and shareable on social media. Or, for a simpler take, repurpose video Reel content into a carousel format like this example from Crate and Barrel. When your backyard is this gorgeous, how can you only share it once? This is also a good reminder to grab various content styles and formats when shooting for social to be repurposed on the same or different channels. 

crate and barrel outdoor furniture and floor cushions in front of lush green background ig screenshot
Image credit: @crateandbarrel

6. Spotlight People or Groups

Carousels are a great way to shine a spotlight on individuals or groups of people effectively. This strategy is helpful to get more Instagram followers or foster a sense of community among them. An example of this Instagram carousel style can be seen on the Adidas main account, and its Adidas Running handle. The collab post featured 3 winners from the World Athletics Awards, most notably female world athlete of the year, Tigist Assefa, who is sponsored by Adidas.

noah lyles wearing american flag and world athletics gold medal adidas ig carousel post screenshot
Image credit: @adidasrunning and @adidas

7. Before and After Reveals

Carousels also offer a seamless solution for beauty brands to showcase the transformative power of their products. By using this format, brands can elegantly present before and after results in a cohesive narrative. A prime example of this is Wella's innovative approach.

In the past, before and after images would be posted separately, disrupting the continuity of the story and potentially fragmenting audience engagement. However, with the carousel format, Wella successfully combines these images into a single, flowing narrative. This maintains the audience's attention and enhances the storytelling aspect, allowing viewers to effortlessly swipe and witness the dramatic transformation brought about by their product. It's a simple yet effective way to demonstrate product efficacy and keep the audience engaged with a compelling visual journey.

brunette hair style with bands hair before and after split image wella ig carousel screenshot
Image credit: @wella

Instagram carousel posts offer a versatile and engaging way to present content, whether it's for educational purposes, storytelling, showcasing products, or sharing customer experiences. By creatively utilizing this format, brands can enhance their storytelling and engage more deeply with their audience.

Can You Post Carousels on Other Platforms?

Carousel posts, often referred to as slideshows on some platforms, are a popular format across various social media channels. Each platform has its own specifications and formats for these types of posts —here's a breakdown.

TikTok Slideshow 

TikTok's slideshow feature, often referred to as TikTok carousel posts, allow users to create a video from a collection of photos. Users can add music and various effects to enhance the slideshow, making it a fun way to share images. Learning how to make a slideshow on TikTok is just as easy as making a carousel post on Instagram, but keep in mind the following specifications, as they can differ from Instagram.

Best practices for TikTok slideshow sizes and specs:

  • Video Resolution: 1080 x 1920 pixels is recommended for the best quality.
  • Aspect Ratio: 9:16, which is the standard for most smartphones.
  • Length: TikTok videos can be up to 60 seconds long, which applies to slideshows as well.

Facebook Slideshow

Facebook offers a slideshow feature that lets you create short video-like ads from a collection of photos or existing video clips. This Facebook feature is particularly useful for advertisers looking to create engaging content without the need for complex video production.

Best practices for TikTok slideshow sizes and specs:

  • Image Size: At least 1280 x 720 pixels.
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 (landscape) or 1:1 (square).
  • Length: Slideshows can be between 1 to 15 seconds long.

LinkedIn Carousel Post

LinkedIn allows users to upload PDFs that function as carousel posts. Each page of the PDF acts as a slide, making it a great LinkedIn marketing tool for sharing presentations, detailed information or step-by-step guides in a professional context.

Best practices for LinkedIn carousel post sizes and specs:

  • Document Size: PDF format, with each slide being a separate page.
  • Image Size: 1080 x 1080 pixels (square) works well for visibility.
  • File Size: Up to 100 MB.

Pinterest Carousel

Pinterest's carousel feature allows users to upload multiple images that users can swipe through. This is particularly useful for showcasing different aspects of a product, various styles or multiple steps in a DIY project.

Best practices for Pinterest carousel post sizes and specs:

  • Image Size: Minimum of 600 x 600 pixels, but 1000 x 1000 pixels is recommended for better quality.
  • Aspect Ratio: 1:1 (square) or 2:3 (vertical).
  • Number of Slides: Up to 5 images per carousel.

In summary, while the concept of carousel or slideshow posts is consistent across platforms, the specific sizes, specifications and formats vary. Understanding these differences is necessary to effectively use carousel posts on each social media platform, whether it's for personal storytelling or professional branding.

Scheduling Instagram Carousel Posts

Scheduling Instagram carousel posts is a must if you’re striving for consistent engagement. It ensures regular content updates, aligns posts with peak audience activity times and aids in strategic content distribution. Efficient scheduling also allows for better time management and quality control.

Dash Hudson is an excellent tool for this purpose. It offers a visual planner to preview your feed, AI-driven performance predictions, detailed analytics and an efficient workflow. These features help in making informed decisions about content and timing, ensuring your carousel posts have the maximum impact. By leveraging these social media marketing tools, your brand can maintain a compelling and cohesive Instagram presence to drive higher audience engagement and interaction.

How Do Influencers Use Carousel Posts?

The strategy behind influencers using carousel posts is multifaceted and tailored to maximize the content’s impact. influencers often use carousel posts differently than brands, reflecting their unique content marketing strategies and audience engagement goals. Here are some key differences in how influencers versus brands typically utilize carousel posts.

Personal Storytelling vs. Product Focus

Influencers tend to use carousel posts for personal storytelling, sharing experiences and connecting with their audience on a more intimate level. They might showcase their daily activities, behind-the-scenes glimpses or personal milestones. Brands, on the other hand, often focus on showcasing products, services and brand messages. Their carousels are more likely to highlight different product features, uses or customer testimonials.

Authenticity and Relatability

Influencers often aim to create content that is authentic and relatable. Their carousel posts might include unedited or behind-the-scenes images that give a more genuine look into their lives. Brands, while also striving for authenticity on social media, often have a more polished and professional approach in their carousel posts, focusing on high-quality visuals and brand consistency.

Direct Engagement with Followers

Influencers frequently use carousel posts to engage directly with their followers, such as asking for opinions, sharing polls or encouraging user-generated content. This direct engagement is a key part of building their community and personal brand. Brands, while they also engage with their audience, often use carousels more for informational or promotional purposes.

Flexible and Diverse Content

Influencers have the flexibility to experiment with a wide range of content in their carousel posts, from personal anecdotes to varied interests like travel, fashion or lifestyle tips. Brands typically have a more focused approach, with carousel content closely tied to their products, services, or industry.

Collaborations and Partnerships

Influencers often use carousel posts to highlight collaborations with other influencers or brands. These posts can include multiple angles of a product, different ways to style a piece of clothing, or various uses of a product. Brands, while they also collaborate, tend to use carousels more for showcasing their own products or services rather than collaborations.

Frequency and Volume of Content

Influencers might post carousels more frequently as a way to share various aspects of their daily life without cluttering their feed. Brands, on the other hand, might use carousel posts more strategically, focusing on quality over quantity to maintain a cohesive brand image.

While both influencers and brands use Instagram carousel posts to enhance engagement and showcase content, influencers tend to focus more on personal storytelling, authenticity and direct follower engagement. Brands, meanwhile, often use carousels to present polished, product-focused content that aligns with their overall marketing strategy and ROI-driven goals.

Instagram Carousel Trends

Instagram carousel trends are continually evolving, offering fresh and creative ways for users to engage with their audience. Two particularly popular Instagram trends at the moment are the 'Instagram vs Reality' concept and seamless image posts, each providing unique styles and content approaches.

Instagram vs Reality

This trend plays on the contrast between the often idealized portrayal of life on social media and the less polished, more authentic reality. It's a powerful way to connect with audiences on a more genuine, relatable level. 

  • Style: Typically, the first few slides show a perfected, curated image, often with professional-quality aesthetics. Subsequent slides then reveal the behind-the-scenes reality — the outtakes, bloopers or the less glamorous aspects of the situation.
  • Appeal: This trend resonates because it humanizes the poster, breaking down the barriers of perceived perfection on social media. It's relatable and often humorous, which can lead to higher engagement as followers appreciate the honesty and vulnerability.

Seamless Image Posts

Seamless image carousels offer a visually stunning experience where each slide is part of a larger, continuous image. This trend is particularly popular for landscapes, panoramic views, or narrative storytelling.

  • Style: The image is divided into multiple slides, but when swiped, it appears as one continuous, fluid image. This requires careful planning and editing to ensure the image aligns perfectly across each slide.
  • Appeal: The seamless nature of these posts is visually captivating. It encourages the viewer to swipe through all the slides to view the entire image. This not only boosts engagement but also showcases the poster's creativity and attention to detail.
woman wearing carhartt and building fire while camping ig carousel screenshot
Image credit: @carhartt

Both of these trends offer innovative ways to craft stories and share content by contrasting the ideal with the real or creating a visually continuous experience. The trends reflect a broader movement towards authenticity and creativity in social media, resonating with audiences seeking more than traditional, polished content.

In conclusion, the dynamic world of Instagram carousel posts opens up a realm of endless creative possibilities. From the practicality and engagement of step-by-step tutorials to the captivating allure of visual storytelling, carousels offer a versatile platform for expression and connection. 

Effortlessly Schedule Instagram Carousels With Dash Hudson

Platforms like Dash Hudson further enhance this experience, offering tools for strategic planning and analytics, ensuring that your content not only resonates with your audience but also aligns with your brand's aesthetic and goals. The ability to schedule and predict postperformance transforms how we approach content creation, making it more efficient and impactful.

As we navigate these trends and tools, one thing remains clear: Instagram carousel posts are more than just a feature; they are a canvas for creativity, a bridge to audience engagement and a testament to the ever-changing landscape of social media. Embracing these trends and leveraging available tools elevates your Instagram strategy, turning every carousel post into an opportunity to captivate, engage and inspire.

Related Articles

The Only Social Platform Marketers Need To Succeed and Scale