How to Create Engaging Instagram Carousel Posts [FREE TEMPLATES]

Instagram carousel posts are one of the most engaging formats brands can use on the platform. Hootsuite’s own social media team finds that, on average, their carousel posts get 1.4x more reach and 3.1x more engagement than regular posts on Instagram.

The temptation to swipe left, it seems, is hard to resist—especially when there’s a persuasive cover slide. Give your followers the chance to stop doomscrolling and start swoonscrolling with thumb-stopping carousel posts.

What is an Instagram carousel post?

An Instagram carousel is a feed post with up to 10 photos or videos that can be viewed by swiping left.

Just like any other Instagram post, you can include a caption, alt-image text, a geotag, and account and product tags on each image in your carousel. People can like, comment, and share your carousel post.

When a carousel is published, a small square icon appears in the upper right corner of the post. As someone flips to the second image, the icon is replaced with a counter that indicates the number of frames. Small dots also appear at the bottom of a post to mark progress through the carousel.

The benefits of Instagram carousel posts

Including more images or videos in a single post increases your chances of generating a high engagement rate — but that’s not the only reason you should make carousels part of your Instagram marketing strategy.

Posting engaging carousels can help you get on the Instagram algorithm’s good side. Because of the interactive nature of carousels, users spend more time looking at them, on average, than they do at traditional Instagram feed posts. This lets the algorithm know that your target audience finds your content interesting and valuable, and can lead to more people seeing your posts in their feeds.

Carousels are also great for easily sharing:

  • different angles and close-ups of a product
  • how-tos and step-by-step guides
  • before and after transformations

For more specific use cases and examples, scroll down to the bottom of this post!

Instagram carousel sizes and specs

Much like a regular post, Instagram carousel can be published in square, landscape, and portrait formats.

But keep in mind that all posts must be uniform. Whatever shape you choose for the first slide will apply to the rest of the frames, too.

Instagram carousel sizes:

  • Landscape: 1080 x 566 pixels
  • Portrait: 1080 x 1350 pixels
  • Square: 1080 x 1080 pixels
  • Aspect ratio: landscape (1.91:1), square (1:1), vertical (4:5)
  • Recommended image size: Width of 1080 pixels, height between 566 and 1350 pixels (depending on whether the image is landscape or portrait)

Instagram video carousel specs:

  • Length: 3 to 60 seconds
  • Recommended formats include .MP4 and .MOV
  • Aspect ratios: landscape (1.91:1), square (1:1), vertical (4:5)
  • Maximum video size: 4GB

Don’t be afraid to post a mix of videos and images.

Find up-to-date social media image size requirements here.

How to create an Instagram carousel post

When it comes to creating an Instagram carousel post, it’s best to start with a concept. Determine why the carousel is the best fit for your Instagram content, instead of a standard post, collage post, video, or Instagram story.

With this question answered, you’ll likely have a good sense of the type of content you plan to use. Sketch out a storyboard to get an idea of how many frames you’ll need. Decide if your carousel will jump from one image to the next, or have a continuous, panoramic effect.


View this post on Instagram


The Food Issue of @enroutemag looks a little different in 2020. Our annual cross-country trip to discover Canada’s Best New Restaurants couldn’t happen this year, but that didn’t stop us from celebrating the country’s inspiring and innovative culinary industry. We also journey to Morocco’s saffron country and set out on a food odyssey in County Clare, Ireland. Plus, actor @menamassoud dishes on his new book, Evolving Vegan, and food designer @amandahuynh shows us how she packs for far-flung design trips. Check out the link in our bio to dig in. // Le spécial Gourmand de @enroutemag est un peu différent en 2020. Notre recherche pancanadienne des Meilleurs nouveaux restos canadiens n’a pas eu lieu, mais cela ne nous a pas empêchés de célébrer l’industrie culinaire du pays, plus inspirante et plus innovante que jamais. Nous nous transportons également en terre de safran, au Maroc, et partons en périple gastronomique dans le comté de Clare, en Irlande. En plus, l’acteur @menamassoud nous parle de son nouveau livre Evolving Vegan, et la designer culinaire @amandahuynh nous montre ce qu’elle apporte dans ses voyages pour le boulot. Consultez le lien dans notre bio pour vous mettre l’eau à la bouche. ? : @francoisollivier

A post shared by Air Canada enRoute (@enroutemag) on

Here’s how to make a carousel post on Instagram:

1. Add all relevant photos to your photo library.

2. Open the Instagram app and click the + icon from the navigation bar.

3. Tap the layered square icon right below the post preview.

4. Select up to 10 photos and/or videos from your photo library. The order in which you select the media files is the order in which they will be arranged in your carousel.

5. Tap Next in the top right corner of the screen.

6. Apply filters to all of your images/videos or edit each of them individually by tapping the icon with two overlaying circles. When you’re done with your edits, tap Next.

Editing individual images or videos before posting an Instagram carousel

7. Add your caption, geo-tag, account tags and hashtags.

8. Tap Share.

Tip: Double-check to make sure all your frames are in the correct order before you publish. You can’t reorder the slides after you share. (You can, however, delete individual slides after your carousel is posted.)

How to schedule Instagram carousel posts

You can schedule Instagram posts (including carousels) using the web version of the Instagram app, Creator Studio, or Facebook Business Suite. (Find detailed instructions for scheduling Instagram carousels using Meta’s native tools here.)

If your brand has a presence on more social media platforms, it’s a good idea to use a social media management tool like Hootsuite to schedule all of your content in advance from one dashboard.

With Hootsuite, you can create and easily publish carousel posts (with up to 10 images or videos) directly to Instagram. Here’s how.

1. Go to Planner and tap New post to launch Compose.

instagram carousels in Hootsuite Planner

2. Select the Instagram account you want to publish to.

Creating an Instagram carousel in Hootsuite Composer

3. Include your caption in the Text box.

4. Go to Media and tap Select files to upload. Select all the images you want to include in your carousel. All selected images should appear under Media.

Publishing Instagram carousels directly to Instagram from Hootsuite

5. Use the yellow Post now button to publish your carousel to Instagram immediately or click Schedule for later to pick a date and time to publish your post. Then, tap Schedule. The post will show up in your Planner at the time you have scheduled it for.

That’s it! Your post will go live on the date and time you selected.

Free Instagram carousel templates

Want to take your carousels beyond “ten pictures from the same vacation”? Start by customizing one of our five free, professionally designed Instagram carousel templates in Canva.

16 ways to use Instagram carousel posts for marketing

Here’s how brands are using Instagram carousels to promote products or services on the platform.

1. Tell a story

The children’s publishing arm of Random House knows a thing or two about spinning a story. Here’s how they do it with an Instagram carousel post.

2. Reveal something

What’s inside the travel suitcase of jewellery designer Louise Damas’ brand manager? You’ll have to swipe through to find out.

3. Recommend similar products or services

If you like the first band featured in Coachella’s Instagram carousel, chances are high you’ll want to see the musicians featured.

4. Show off the details

Explore the textures and fabrics of Kotn with this Instagram carousel. The Canadian brand uses the format to show off and editorialize its apparel.

5. Illustrate scale

Data journalist and illustrator Mona Chalabi uses the Instagram carousel to brilliant effect. In this example, the swipe effect conveys both scale and disproportion than any single image could.

6. Showcase your process

Illustrator Kamwei Fong shows you the final product in print and frame, as well as her process—bringing viewers closer to her art one slide and a time.

7. Share important information

Nothing but the facts, in simple and understandable slides in this and several other Instagram carousels shared by Welfact. To maximize shareability, treat each post as a self-contained unit. That increases the odds (by up to 10!) that someone will share your post in an Instagram story.

8. Share a recipe (or any how-to)

Who needs a recipe book when you can follow Cleanfoodcrush’s Instagram carousel as instructions for her loaded bean soup.


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{New} Loaded Bean Soup Because you’re gonna need something EASY + DELICIOUS to feed all your people throughout the colder months! Let’s make it hearty, nourishing, inexpensive, & SIMPLE! 6-8 servings Ingredients: 6 slices nitrate free bacon, chopped 1 large onion, chopped 3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped 4 ribs of celery, chopped 4 cloves garlic, crushed 3 (15oz) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained 1 (15oz) jar diced tomatoes or fire roasted diced tomatoes 4 cups vegetable broth, or chicken bone broth 2 tsps paprika sweet or smoked a small bunch of fresh rosemary and thyme spears (2 – rosemary, 6 – thyme) 2 bay leaves sea salt and pepper to taste, about q/4 teaspoon each serve with plain Greek yogurt garnish with freshly chopped parsley Instructions: Start by chopping your veggies, peel and wash the carrots. Chop onion, carrots, and celery into small dice. Make a small herb bunch by tying the herb spears into one single bunch so they’re easy to remove. Heat a large stock pot over medium heat. Once hot, add your chopped bacon in a single layer. Cook for 3 minutes flipping halfway through until both sides are golden and crisp. Once the bacon is done, remove from the pan and set aside on a paper lined plate. Reserve bacon drippings in the pot. Add in garlic and sauté until fragrant. Stir in chopped onion, carrots and celery, cook until veggies are beginning to caramelize. Next add in the beans, chicken broth, tomatoes, paprika, and your bay leaves & herb bunch. Season with sea salt and pepper. Cover and allow simmer on low for about 20 minutes or until soup is thickened a bit. Once your soup is done, discard the bay leaves & herb bunch, then ladle your soup into bowls. Add crispy bacon and a dollop of yogurt on top. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley and serve warm. Enjoy! ❤Rachel

A post shared by Cleanfoodcrush by Rachel Maser (@cleanfoodcrush) on

9. Crack a joke

Chipotle’s timeline of burrito eating uses the Instagram carousel to comical and relatable effect.

10. Share a tutorial

Adobe saves #TeddyBearDay with this Instagram carousel tutorial.

11. Share secret hacks

Wendy’s secret menu carousels dare you not to click through and discover “secret” food hacks.

12. Make a powerful statement

Timed with Ben Simmons’ NBA Rookie of the Year award win, this post from Nike shows how to use the Instagram carousel to make and punctuate a statement. As one commenter notes: “I love it uses the slide to change perception.”

13. Generate engagement

Take a quick look at the McDonald’s India feed and it’s clear that the Instagram carousel has been a winning format for the account. This most, among others, is a good reminder that a “swipe left” call to action never hurts. It helps, in fact. Socialinsider’s study finds the CTA increases engagement.

14. Share testimonials

You can break interviews into “sound bites” with Instagram carousels. This can be a good way to share testimonials, employees as ambassadors, artisans, partners, or other interviews you’d like to share.

15. Keep your feed aesthetically consistent

Patagonia creates a magazine gatefold effect with Instagram carousels. The example demonstrates how carousels can also be used to maintain a feed aesthetic. If you want your feed to only contain images, but also want to share text, here’s a good workaround.

16. Highlight important data

This Hootsuite Instagram carousel parses findings from the 2020 Q4 Digital Statshot Report into easily digestible stats and takeaways.

Manage your Instagram presence alongside your other social channels and save time using Hootsuite. From a single dashboard you can schedule and publish carousels, edit images, and measure performance. Try it free today.

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