One of the biggest Instagram updates of the year was it becoming official that it’s no longer just a photo-sharing app.
Now, you can do so much more on Instagram with video, shopping experiences, and more.
That doesn’t mean Instagram isn’t for images anymore. But it does mean that when you do share them, you need to make it count.
All of these changes mean that you need to seriously consider making carousels a big part of your posting strategy.
Studies have shown that carousels are the most engaging type of post on the platform.
What Are Instagram Carousel Posts?
If you’re not familiar, those are the “album-style” posts in your feed that can include up to 10 images or photos at a time.
The first time someone sees the post in their feed, it will show the first photo as the post cover. But unlike regular image posts in the feed, it has the opportunity to show up again if the user doesn’t engage, this time showing the next image.
Whether you’re marketing an ecommerce brand with “photo dump” style carousels featuring UGC of your products or an educational brand creating helpful, save-worthy infographics to teach your audience, carousels are a great way to frame content in a digestible, engaging way.
Here are a few best practices to keep in mind for making engaging Instagram carousels.
1. Remember Basic Copy And Content Principles
First of all, remember that an Instagram carousel is just another piece of strategic copy.
If it helps, you can even brainstorm and ideate the post as an article first, then format it to fit a carousel once you have a draft thought out.
One of the most effective techniques: know your audience and talk directly to them as individuals.
Even though you’re on a public platform where hundreds or thousands will read your post, you want each reader to feel like you’re in a personal conversation with them.
An easy way to do this is to use language like “you” instead of “you guys” or “you all.”
You’ll also want to make sure you’re leading with the most compelling information or image for the reader, and think about “what’s in it for them” throughout the carousel.
2. Use The First Image As A “Scroll topper”
The first image in the carousel is essentially its hook or “above the fold” real estate.
You’ll want to treat that first image as you would a header image or headline.
Its one goal is to get people to stop and pay attention.
The rest of the carousel, like the other images and the caption, can take care of the post’s other goals and get across the main message.
Consider saving the first image real estate for the most compelling photograph in a photo carousel.
If you’re creating an infographic, consider keeping the first slide to a short and bold statement that pulls people into the rest of the information.
You have 10 whole images to get your full message across. Let the first image do its job and keep it simple.
3. Encourage People To Swipe Through
Once you’ve got people’s attention with the first slide, you want to keep them scrolling.
As with any marketing activity, the best way to get someone to do what you’re hoping is to prompt or ask them.
Just a simple line in your caption with a call-to-action to swipe should do it. For example, influencers often put something like “➡️ Swipe through to see more!”
Not only does that simple sentence make clear that the post is a carousel, for anyone who didn’t notice before. It also adds a bit of curiosity for anyone who wasn’t compelled to swipe before reading it.
Another thing brands and influencers frequently do is add a visual signal in the images, like an arrow pointing to the right in all but the final image. You can also have one continuous line or shape that “stretches” across all of the images.
4. Make Sure Every Slide Can Stand Alone
Another thing you want to keep in mind when you’re designing your carousel slides and order of information?
You want every slide to stand on its own.
Have you ever come across another brand’s carousel when you were scrolling from your personal profile and shared every single slide to your stories because they all resonated so much?
That’s the ultimate goal here.
You never know exactly which image will be the first one someone comes across since people can share specific ones in their stories and messages.
Plus, once a user has seen the first image, the post may reappear in their feed displaying one of the others. All images are a potential entry point.
That means someone should be able to guess the overall topic or theme of the carousel from every image within it.
5. Keep Everything Cohesive
While you’re trying to shape every image into something that can stand alone, make sure you don’t accidentally design 10 individual graphics instead of one cohesive slideshow.
You want the images to feel like part of a series.
Some ways you can do that are:
- Using the same fonts and colors throughout graphics (brand guidelines should make this easy).
- Using the same editing filters, styles, or presets on photographs.
- Featuring similar or related products.
- Putting a series title or watermark in the header or footer area of each slide.
- Using the same design template for each graphic.
This is all part of having a cohesive brand in general, which can help you build brand recognition on Instagram as well.
Once you have a hold on creating cohesive carousels, you can try to make sure all your posts blend together just as well.
6. Avoid Information Overwhelm
It’s also important to remember that adding up to 10 minutes doesn’t mean you want to cram 10 times as much information as you would into any other post.
A better mindset to approach Instagram carousels with is this: You have way more space to convey the same amount of information.
Let the content breathe.
For photo carousels, try not to make each one a maximalist, busy, zoomed-out photo. Let viewers zoom in on the details of the scene.
For infographics, don’t try to cram multiple sentences on one slide. Make sure the text has enough padding around it that it’s easy to read without holding the phone right up to your face.
You want to avoid overwhelming passive scrollers with so much information that they don’t take action.
7. Remember Accessibility
Finally, keep in mind that including more images in your Instagram posts means more to make accessible for vision-impaired users.
Forgetting about disabled users cuts out a huge portion of your potential audience that would otherwise want to engage with your content.
You can add alt text to images in the post editor as you’re creating your carousel. It’s also useful to add image descriptions in the caption or first comment for those using a device that doesn’t show them the alt text.
Keep Them Swiping
With these tips, you’ll be publishing Instagram carousel posts that get people liking, sharing, and commenting way more than a static image.
Between image swipes and the conversation they’ll start, this is one of the most effective ways to up your Instagram engagement.
And now you’re ready to get started!
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