How to Use Instagram Carousels in Your Marketing

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Instagram carousels see an engagement rate of 1.92% (even more when all 10 slides are used) compared to an engagement rate of 1.74% for images and 1.45% for videos. However, that same study discovered that carousels only take up 19% of all content posted to the site.

Your brand should be working to create the most engaging content type for each platform, and on Instagram, it’s carousels.

Throughout this article, we’re going to dive into what exactly an Instagram carousel is, how to create one, and cover 10 different ways you can use carousels in your marketing.

How to Use Instagram Carousels in Your Marketing:

What is an Instagram Carousel?

An Instagram carousel is a post with multiple photos. Users can add as many as 10 images to a single Instagram post, creating a slider that viewers would swipe side to side in order to view all of the images.

Here’s an example of an Instagram carousel:


On mobile, you would simply swipe left to access the next photo or swipe right to go back. On desktop, there are next and back arrows that allow users to move from photo to photo.

When viewing someone’s feed, an Instagram carousel is denoted by a stacked layer icon in the top right corner.

In the example below, we see icons denoting a shoppable post, a Reel, and a carousel, respectively.

icons denoting shoppable post

Why Use Instagram Carousels?

We’ve already talked about how Instagram carousels can help generate even more engagement than other types of Instagram posts. But more than that, a few key benefits include:

  • You can share even more information in a single post
  • You can promote an entire product line at once
  • You can get creative with your carousel images
  • You can combine photos and videos into a single carousel

You’ll see even more reasons Instagram carousels can be a great content type when we show you all of the different ways you can use this feature below.

How to Create an Instagram Carousel

Creating an Instagram carousel post is simple. Follow along with these steps to get started.

  1. Tap the + icon at the top of your Instagram feed.
  2. Tap the carousel icon (two stacked layers) at the top of your camera roll.
  3. Select up to 10 images you want to add to the carousel. Try to tap them in the order you want them to appear. Then tap Next.
  4. Add filters to each if you choose. You can also rearrange the images by holding an image down and dragging it to its new place in the lineup in case you selected them out of order. Then tap Next.
  5. Write a caption, tag people and/or products, or any other information you want to add to your post.
  6. Tap Share to publish your new carousel post.

15 Ways to Use Instagram Carousels to Engage Your Audience

instagram carousels

1. Share Educational Tidbits


Teachable used their Instagram carousel to create graphics with educational tips for their target audience. Since Teachable is a platform for hosting and selling online courses, their users are of course looking for ways to increase sales this holiday season.

Consider what tips your business might be able to share with your audience. Tips on how to use your product, educational information about your industry, and important data or statistics are all great ideas for this carousel example.

2. Participate in a Trending Meme


Memes go in and out of style quickly, so it’s important to stay on top of trends if you want the chance to participate. The method used the “they’re a 10” meme in a carousel format so they could create multiple graphics using the same meme, while still consolidated into a single post.

The example we showed at the beginning of this article from Shopify is another version of this carousel idea, using the “Little Miss” meme that was popular once upon a time. Pay attention to trending memes on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok so you can hop on them and keep your content relevant.

3. Showcase User-Generated Content


If you’ve hosted a contest or have collected similar user-generated content photos or graphics, compile it all into a carousel. This worked perfectly for Canva as they shared photos from their design contest.

You could also use this to show off different ways to use a product or different people wearing a particular clothing item. The product helps to tie the photos together and it makes for a much more compelling piece of content.

4. Tell a Story


Create graphics with text on them that tell a story. Users can then scroll from photo to photo to read on and get the full picture. ConvertKit used this idea to not only tell a story but to relate to their target audience in an attempt to sell them on their big sale.

You can use this idea to tell a story about how your business came to be, your mission, big milestones, or anything else meaningful and relevant to your company and/or industry.

5. Show Off Different Versions of a Product


Use a photo carousel to show off the different versions, formats, or sizes of the same product. Day Designer used this to showcase a digital wallpaper on a smartphone, tablet, and computer, so that users of any device would be able to see how it would look before downloading.

This is also a great idea for clothing lines that sell in multiple sizes (i.e., mommy and me outfits, kids clothes from baby to young child) and other similar product lines so your customers can gauge whether it’s the right fit for them.

6. Create Branded Graphics


Branded graphics are any type of graphic that match your brand fonts and colors, or at the very least a campaign’s fonts and colors. They can be used in so many ways and for so many content ideas, but we love how Starbucks chose to create their holiday pairing graphics.

By incorporating astrology, a popular topic on Instagram, and well-designed illustrations of certain food and drink options, Starbucks created an engaging Instagram carousel promoting their products.

7. Promote Sales


Got any big sales or discounts coming up? Promote them using an Instagram carousel. DressUp used this idea to showcase several different clothing items with their original price and then their sale price in an effort to drive conversions on their website.

Try out this format or a similar idea on your own Instagram. You can even make them shoppable by tagging up to 20 products (max of 5 per image) on a single carousel post.

8. Create Continuous Images


This is one of our favorite carousel post ideas, along with one of the most creative. Because swiping from image to image in a carousel is completely seamless (i.e., there’s no line or break between the images), you can easily create continuous images or graphics that flow into each other.

This local wedding photographer does just that when sharing client photos on her Instagram account, creating a fun and unique way of showing off her photography. This can also be done with branded graphics or even horizontal/panoramic images broken up into squares.

9. Showcase a Product’s Use Cases


Have a product that comes in multiple colors or can be used in multiple ways? Create a carousel featuring each of these different use cases. The Sill’s Instagram carousel is just one example of this, as they showcase multiple plant types inside this single plant pot.

There are endless ways you can do this as well. Showcase a shirt styled in several different ways. Share photos of a piece of furniture in a number of different rooms. Promote a type of makeup that can be used for multiple different areas on your face.

10. Promote Your Products


Of course, an obvious idea for using Instagram carousels is to promote your products. Estelle Colored Glass does this by creating graphics of all their product colors in each different line and posting them via carousel.

You can use this idea to showcase a brand new product line, share a product in various colors, and more.

11. Showcase Giveaway Prizes


If you’re hosting a giveaway as a part of a brand collaboration, there are likely a few different sets of prizes. Using an Instagram carousel is a great way to give each brand participating in the giveaway its own spotlight image.

That’s exactly what Mau and Made by Nacho did in their collaborative giveaway when showcasing the products that were being given away. It also helps draw in even more attention, excitement, and engagement to your giveaways.

12. Share a Q&A


Use the first slide of your carousel to ask a question, then use as many slides as you need to provide an answer. This is a fun way to engage your audience and entice them into swiping to see the rest of the content.

Seed does this in the example above by asking a big question on the first slide, then using the remaining slides to answer other questions with regards to their first question. 

13. Share Product Information


Do certain groups of products go together well? Use a carousel to showcase these products in bundles and share more information about certain products.

Cocokind did a great job of this when using a carousel to showcase the types of skincare products that work for sensitive skin, acne-prone skin, dry skin, etc. They’ve created graphics that show off the product and the price—along with a big discount for their ongoing sale.

14. Promote a Cause


Is there a charity or important cause that your business is passionate about? Use a carousel to share more information about it, especially when relevant holidays come up.

Take a look at how Pelacase used their platform (and an Instagram carousel) to promote World Water Week 2022, sharing important information about water with their followers.

15. Create How-to Guides

Use carousels to create tutorials or how-to guides for your customers. This way, they’re able to make the most out of your product, service, or software.

Take a page out of Bloomscape’s book. They created an in-depth plant care guide for one of their products using a carousel. They do this every so often with different plants, making sure to provide all necessary information to help their customers keep their plant babies alive.

Start Creating Instagram Carousels Today

Increase Instagram reach and engagement today by adding carousel posts alongside your single image posts. To learn even more about how to make the most out of your Instagram marketing strategy, discover how the Instagram algorithm works so you can post the most popular content types.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do carousels perform better on Instagram?

Studies show that Instagram carousels do receive higher engagement than regular Instagram posts do. Incorporating carousels into your Instagram strategy can be a great idea.

What is the limit for Instagram carousels?

You can have no more than 10 images in a single Instagram carousel.

What’s the difference between a Reel and a carousel?

A Reel is a vertical video of 90 seconds or less. A carousel is a slideshow of images.

Why should you post Instagram carousels?

Posting Instagram carousels helps break up the types of Instagram content you share, keeping your feed engaging and fun. There are also a number of creative uses for carousel posts, which helps engage your audience even further.

How many photos in a carousel is best?

Search Engine Journal discovered that engagement rates are best when posts use all 10 image slots for an Instagram carousel.

About the Author
Chloe West is a digital marketer and freelance writer, focusing on topics surrounding social media, content, and digital marketing. She's based in Charleston, SC, and when she's not working, you'll find her reading a romance novel or watering her plants.