How 12 Big Brands Are Using Instagram’s New Carousel Feature

Have you noticed all the carousels on Instagram lately?

Not the kind with the horses and the cool organ music – the kind you can scroll through!

Instagram now has a feature that allows you to upload 10 photos and/or videos at a time in a slideshow format.

Here’s an example from Entertainment Weekly:

Users can scroll through the carousel by tapping or clicking on the sides of the image – the dots at the bottom of the image show how far into the slideshow you’ve gotten.

(In the profile, carousels are marked with a little icon in the top-right of the image. Here you can see that the first and third posts include multiple uploads, while the photo in the middle is a single image.)

Entertainment Weekly Slideshows.png

This feature hasn’t been around long, but big brands are already finding pretty creative ways of using it – and it’s definitely worth your attention, too.

How can you make the most of Instagram’s new 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 Marvel Entertainment welcomes a celebrity to their offices, they can post a slideshow of the highlights for fans to enjoy:


Another way to go behind the scenes is to offer before and after shots, like in this post from Disney:

Disney - Thumper Instagram.gif

Or to complement what you’ve already shared someplace else, like the Late Show with Stephen Colbert:

Colbert Late Show - Puppies Instagram.gif

(You’ll notice that a lot of these captions explicitly invite users to scroll or swipe through – a clever way to catch people who may not have realized that an image is actually just the first in a carousel.)

That last one is also a strong example for the next 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 – like in our last example.

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 – but unlike Facebook, Instagram’s tap-to-expand format makes longer captions easier 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:

Teen Vogue - Diverse Models Instagram.gif

Here’s another example – see how the Washington Post uses its caption to tease a story featured on their website:

Washington Post - Greenland Instagram.gif

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

Image quotes make a lasting impression – and since you can now add up to 10 images to a single Instagram update, you have plenty of room for all your best material!

We’re not just talking about quotes, either. Take a look at how Refinery29 uses charts and data to create an infographic-like experience:

✨👉Swipe through for more.👉✨ In the year after the #OscarsSoWhite controversy humiliated and upended the biggest awards show in Hollywood, The Academy seems to have learned a lesson. This year, three movies centering on three very different Black stories earned Best Picture nominations and six of the 20 acting nominations went to Black actors. Moreover, five of the six Best Documentary nominees were created by Black filmmakers. But as far as diversity goes, any back-patting is premature. Although Hollywood made sure more Black voices were heard this year, it still has a major diversity problem: the lack of Asians and Latinx. Indeed, there are zero Latinx actors, directors, or films nominated this year, and only one film that centers around an Asian person. This is not just a problem for this year's Oscars and the lack of diversity is as much an issue behind the camera as it is on it. When it comes to Oscar votes, of The Academy's more than 7,000 members, women make up only 27% of voters, and people of color make up only 11%. To learn more about who's calling the shots and what needs to change, tap the link in bio. #AcknowledgeIsPower cc: @meaowree and @ariannagab #OscarsSoBlack #R29Reads

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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:

Etsy - Seller Instagram.gif

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

Torrid - Instagram.gif

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

Are you using this feature yet?

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!

  • Great suggestions!

  • Simone

    I have already used it a few times but haven’t found it has lead to any more engagement. I made a carousel for sharing my blog post. I had the usual image from my blog as the cover and then included screen shots from the blog and a quote image taken from the blog in the carousel. I also used it to promot my new digital membership product, showing screenshots of the sales page and backend of the member site. My first time using the new featuer was with images that had a text overlay that represented the different areas I focus on with my coaching practice. It has been fun to think of creative ways to use the feature, and I will keep using it with some new ideas from this post to see how I can increase engagement and comments.

    • Tom VanBuren

      Those all sound like great ideas – way to hit the ground running with this feature!

  • Tom VanBuren

    If you’re talking about Instagram, that one’s out of our hands, because their API doesn’t support third-party posting from apps like Edgar. (Even tools that offer SOME integration, like Buffer, can’t actually post your updates to Instagram for you – you still have to do it yourself manually every time.) If Instagram changes that in the future, we can revisit it, but for now, they definitely prefer for you to share your updates live!

  • Awesome post – so excited to try this out!