11 Unique Ways to Use Instagram’s Carousel Feature

By in Social media marketing, Instagram Strategy Dec 6, 2017

This post was originally published on April 11th 2017, and was last updated on December 6th 2017.

Editor’s note: Schedugram now supports Carousel/multi-image posts

Sign-up for a 7-day free trial today to schedule your very own carousel posts and Instagram stories.

What Are Instagram Carousels

Instagram’s Carousel feature allows you to share up to 10 photos and videos in a single post. Instagram introduced the carousel feature to advertisers in March 2015, but it only became available to all users in February this year.

The feature was a hit success once introduced and if your Instagram feed is anything like mine, it would have been full of posts celebrating the new feature.

But since its release, slideshow posts are not featuring as heavily in my feed. If you are short on inspiration, here are 11 ways publishers and brands can make the most of the update.

How to Use Instagram Carousel

1. As a storytelling tool

As you can upload to ten images or videos, the Carousel feature is a great way to tell a story on Instagram. Media publishers often use the feature to accompany articles, or as a story all on its own. Some examples:

The New York Times posted multiple images to promote reporter Ed Wong’s article on the Mekong River in Laos. They used a long caption to introduce the article and its subject and asked readers to swipe left to see more photographs. The publication also linked to the article in its bio.

While visiting an ancient Khmer temple in southern Laos, the @nytimes reporter Ed Wong and his family spent 3 nights along the Mekong River. They were in the midst of a whirlwind trip through #SoutheastAsia — a farewell to the region after Ed spent 8 years reporting in China. “For many foreigners and Chinese ground down by living in China’s polluted, crowded and clogged megacities, the beaches, rivers and hills of tropical Southeast Asia provided a much-needed escape hatch,” Ed writes for @nytimestravel. In this little-known corner of #Laos, palm trees line the riverbanks, freshwater dolphins swim between islets and fishermen cast nets over the side of skiffs. The pace of life there is “slower, much slower, than that of Beijing,” Ed continues. “But it would have been wrong to think of the region as timeless.” One of the highlights of the trip: Vat Phou, one of the most sacred temples of the vanished Khmer kingdoms. It was built more than 1,000 years ago and recently restored. The photographer @askmott went to #Laos to capture Ed’s journey. Swipe left, and then visit the link in our profile to see more.

A post shared by The New York Times (@nytimes) on

In the same fashion, The Huffington Post shared sexual violence statistics with multiple graphics in one Instagram post.

As a final example, Refinery29 rounded up numerous illustrations to celebrate Muslim Women’s Day with positive messages of solidarity with Muslim women.

2. To tell a joke

BuzzFeed curated multiple photos to post memes about sibling rivalry. They made sure their followers engage in the slideshow by asking their followers to ‘swipe left’ to see more images.

me and my sister for real. tag yours 😂

A post shared by BuzzFeed (@buzzfeed) on

Netflix also utilised the slideshow feature to share different emoji reactions to the show The OA.

The Swipe Movements #TheOA

A post shared by Netflix US (@netflix) on

3. For contests

A common way that brands are using the slideshow feature is to ask their followers to vote in the comments. MTV, for example, asked their fans to vote for the best villain ahead of the MTV Awards:

4. To showcase products

The retailer Asos reveal their latest products in multiple picture posts, such as this series on Ted Baker’s latest summer dresses.

Summer sun = @ted_baker summer dresses ☀

A post shared by ASOS (@asos) on

Meanwhile, Subway have been promoting their Subs of the Day using the feature.

Now that you can get a different footlong for just $6 each day, every day is Mmm day.

A post shared by Official Subway (@subway) on

5. For best of moments

MAC rounded up the best looks at the Mercedez-Benz Prague fashion show using multiple photographs of make-up looks.

6. For a big reveal

Disney encouraged followers to swipe through pictures for a ‘big reveal’. Such as this post, which reveals a piece of trivia from the film Big Hero 6.

Diagnosis: Easter Egg. 🔎🦊✨ Swipe to reveal this Wilde #Zootopia secret in #BigHero6!

A post shared by Disney (@disney) on

7. For customer reviews

Cake design company The Sweet Stuff post positive customer reviews in one Instagram post. An easy way to encourage more people to use your services:

8. For tutorials

Over at Refinery29 in the UK, they have been using the format to teach people how to make a hanging plant pot.

9. To show behind the scenes

Airbnb made use of Instagram’s Carousel feature during their #AirbnbTour2017 campaign to give their followers a glimpse of the life of India’s two designers.

Similarly, photographers have explained how they set up for shoots on GoPro’s Instagram account:

#GoPro Featured Photographer x @chrisbrinleejr! Dive into Chris’ stories below as he takes us behind the scenes on a #GoProSurf production with @anthony_walsh_ and @a_gray as they #surf the frigid waters of #Alaska. Click the link in our bio to watch the full piece ☝🏽 • • • First Shot: We traveled an hour by quad across the island to a remote area on the Pacific side where Alex & Anthony had scouted waves on a previous trip. The weather was rapidly changing while we were there; the previous night, the first layer of snow had fallen, creating a dreamlike landscape where Alex & Anthony hiked down to the beach to ride some barrels. • PHOTO SETTINGS: RAW Photo, ProTune On: Sharpness Low • Second Shot: It’s not the destination, it’s the journey: There are no real roads on the island; the terrain is pretty rugged as well. As such, the best way to get around is on a quad – but even those would get stuck in foot-deep mud, and often. Alex discovered that the best way to get through sticky sections was to just charge the muddy pits, hold on, and press through. • PHOTO SETTINGS: Burst: 30/2, ProTune On: Sharpness Low • Third Shot: Flying into the Aleutian Islands is a harrowing experience. The runway on this particular island is made of gravel, and there are also regular, high crosswinds. Those conditions resulted in the ill-fated landing of this DC-3 in 1965, which has been there ever since. • PHOTO SETTINGS: RAW Photo, ProTune On: Sharpness Low • Fourth Shot: Morning routine on the trip involved getting up before the sun, riding quads across the island, and checking for waves on the Pacific side. The waves were usually good, so Alex & Anthony would come prepared to paddle out just as first light was appearing; then surf perfect waves, all to themselves, all day. • PHOTO SETTINGS: RAW Photo, ProTune On: Sharpness Low

A post shared by gopro (@gopro) on

10. To show off user-generated content

The design tool Canva rounded up their favourite Canva designs of the week in one easy to digest photo post.

The makeup brand Rimmel London also showcased their customer’s images in a multi-picture round-up.

11. To illustrate transformations

The slideshow posts are a useful way to show before and afters, or to show the gradual transformation. This works well for travel, but lifestyle brands are also using it to illustrate style transformations. Here ELLE have used it to document Rihanna’s changing hairstyles:

Now you have the inspiration to get started on the slideshow posts, it’s time to get going.

The slideshow feature is available as part of Instagram version 10.9 for iOS in the Apple App Store and for Android on Google Play. Upload multiple pictures or videos by tapping the pictures you want to use when uploading a new series. It’s worth noting that the photos are square-only for now.

Happy slideshow-ing!

About the author

Sophie Murray-Morris is a London-based freelance social media editor and journalist. She was previously the Deputy Social Media Editor at Metro.co.uk and the UK Social Media Editor at MSN. You can find out more by following her on Twitter.