How 17 Big Brands Are Using Instagram’s Carousel Feature

Written by Laura Roeder

On June 26, 2018
In early 2017, Instagram introduced the ability to include up to 10 images and videos in a single post – and since then, the feature has become HUGE for sharing content.

(And for when you can’t choose just one selfie. It’s all in the angles!)

Here’s an example from Entertainment Weekly:

(Take special note of that caption, which mentions a link to see more in the profile’s bio – always important when you’re trying to drive traffic to your website from Instagram!)

Now that this feature has been around for a while, we’re taking a look at how some major brands have been using it to juice up the content they share – and how you can do the same.

How can you make the most of this major feature?

Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can use it!

Go behind the scenes

Giving your fans and followers a peek behind the scenes isn’t just a good idea when you’re writing a blog post – it’s also a perfect use for this Instagram feature.

For example, when New York City’s Strand Book Store invites authors to sign their latest, they can post photos showing them at work:

You can also give your fans and followers an advance preview of what you’re working on, like in this behind-the-scenes peek from Disney:

Before-and-after pics are another way to use this feature to reward your followers, like in this post from DC Comics:

Of course, there’s more to life (and Instagram) than photos – which brings us to the next big way brands are taking advantage of this feature!

Bring your post to life with video

Instagram allows you to mix and match images with video, so a single update can include both!

You could also opt to go for nothing but video, like in this post from the official Instagram of the Academy Awards:

Oscars - Red Carpet Instagram.gif

BuzzFeed Tasty, which specializes in recipes, uses video in their carousels to demonstrate instructions:

BuzzFeed Tasty - Recipe Instagram.gif

Posts like this one don’t just show you what to do, either – they tell you in specifics by including the entire recipe they’re demonstrating in the carousel’s caption.

Which actually leads to the next big trend you can try:

Use your caption to tell the story

Like Facebook, Instagram gives you a lot of space in your captions – and its tap-to-expand format makes longer captions super easy to access without leaving your feed.

Take advantage of the space you have and use your caption to contextualize a series of images/videos with a common theme, like Teen Vogue does here:

Instagram story from Teen Vogue

Here’s another example, from The Washington Post:

Washington Post Instagram Story

You can even create a custom graphic to put some extra context in the actual media of your Instagram post!

For example, take a look at how this post from Racked incorporates a quote:

And remember, it doesn’t just matter what you have to say…

Spark a conversation in your comments

Like a lot of these slideshow strategies, this one isn’t something that you can only do now – heck, inviting people to share their thoughts by commenting is basically Social Media 101!

What this strategy and a lot of the others in this list have in common, though, is that Instagram’s carousel feature allows you to do it in new ways.

For example, take a look at how MTV gets users talking by including different photos in a single update, and asking for their opinions:

MTV - Emma Stone Instagram.gif

Of course, captions aren’t the only place where you can use your words – and they aren’t the only place where you can get people thinking, either!

Get creative with in-image text

We saw earlier in this post how you can create a custom quote image to include in your Instagram post – but that’s not all you can do with graphics!

For example, take a look at how Refinery29 uses data to create an infographic-like experience:

By visualizing data and giving extra context in your caption, you can tell an engaging, interactive story in a single Instagram post.

And as valuable as that type of content is, at the end of the day, you are a business – which means there’s another way in which this feature comes in pretty handy!

Show off the goods

You deserve to be proud of what you offer – and sometimes it’s hard to properly show it off in a single image!

Maybe it’s a product that looks great from different angles, or can be used in different ways. Like this one, from Etsy’s Instagram:

Maybe you’re launching several new things at once, like in this example from fashion retailer Torrid:

Whether you want to highlight a single item or a whole bunch of them, Instagram’s carousel feature gives you a lot of freedom!

Teach something

Being able to share multiple images or videos in a single post makes them a lot more interactive, which is perfect when you want to share hot tips and fun facts!

Merriam-Webster uses posts like these for sharing their word of the day – the first image gives a definition, while the second shares examples of that word in a sentence:

‘Effigy’ is the #wordoftheday . #language #dictionary #merriamwebster #wotd

A post shared by Merriam-Webster (@merriamwebster) on

Comic book publisher Marvel does something similar by sharing pieces of trivia in a question-and-answer format:

The ACLU even uses this feature to make sure people are educated about their civil rights!

How can you use multiple images in a single post to educate your fans and followers? How can they benefit from your unique experience and expertise?

Are you using this feature yet? (And one last tip for the road)

What do you think of Instagram’s addition?

Is it something you see yourself experimenting with?

A useful tool, or an unnecessary distraction?

Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Oh, and like we promised, one last tip:

In a user’s Instagram feed, the first image in a carousel isn’t always the first image that displays. Instagram wants users to swipe left and right, so sometimes the first image a user sees will actually be the last one in the carousel, or one of the ones in the middle!

Depending on what you’re sharing, then, it can be a good idea to instruct people in the caption to scroll to the beginning – that way, if viewing them in order makes a difference, you can make sure they see the whole thing!

We’ll leave you with this example from Dwayne Johnson, where he does just that:

Inspirational, right?

How 17 Big Brands Are Using Instagram’s Carousel Feature

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