A case study of how to use carousels for strong growth in 9 steps
So, what’s the big deal about Instagram carousels, you may ask?
Instagram carousels were launched as a new Instagram feature in late 2017.
The idea behind it is to showcase more content and engage your audience for longer periods of time.
Because the actual mechanics of the “finger swiping” change from scrolling to swiping, data proves that Instagram users become more immersed in your content by consciously choosing to STOP and consume it.
One of the early problems of Instagram carousels was the design of the feature. In fact, still to this day, it is not always obvious that a post is “swipeable”.
The only indication in the feed is the line of dots below the post, and the two squares overlay on the top right corner of the post.
However, Instagram does give you a helping hand.
Through an algorithm updated in mid-2019, the discoverability of the carousel has now changed.
Once someone sees the first slide of your carousel in the feed, Instagram will resurface the post later with the second slide displaying.
Did your viewers scroll past your carousel the first time? Don’t worry!
Instagram will get you a second chance to try and hook them with slide number two.
The moral is:
Every slide in your Instagram Carousel post is as important as the first one. Variations of content are also recommended.
So how can you use Instagram carousels “at a business level”?
Instagram carousel posts offer users and marketers a different way to show users the bigger picture.
Instagram has been an image-based platform for the majority of its lifespan, and users have become used to interacting with image content.
For the sake of this article, we will be using Dain Walker (the Don of Instagram Carousels) as a case study to better explain the technicalities of powerful carousel design.
Dain has been able to growth-hack his personal IG account from 1K to 10K (REAL) followers in 48 days by leveraging the power of the Instagram carousel.
Let’s see how he has done it…
1. The Design of the Carousel Post
For business purposes, a carousel post should be a series of images/photos posted as one — a story that unfolds and comes together as a whole.
You can use 2–10 images/videos or a mix of them. The more the better.
The powerful aspect of using more slides is the “room” to be able to include much more information and engage the end-user for a longer period.
You can create a valuable presentation, convey a story, explain things, show examples, etc.
Some people say that carousel posts get lower engagement (fewer likes) and that’s the reason they don’t use them.
They couldn’t be more wrong.
It is 2020, and time to stop with the vanity metrics.
Second, every time someone swipes up, one, two, three, four, five times… it’s a sign for Instagram that people want to go through all images/photos/videos in the carousel post.
Each swipe visually counts as a ‘like’.
That means even though the overall number of likes may be slightly lower than usual, the platform is recognising that your content is valuable and will scale it up in explorer and hashtag searches.
2. Start With a Title or Statement
There’s no need to explain this step further.
Grab their attention.
Be aggressive in the delivery.
This is your hook.
3. Ask a Question
When you trigger curiosity in your end consumer they will more likely be interested in following through to find out more.
You’ve hooked them through the first post of the carousel — now it is time to make them curious about what it is you’ve got to offer.
4. Showcase Proof
Show them you know what you’re talking about.
Use examples to address the initial statement and question.
This is the time to build on and leverage your reputation and experiences.
5. Dive Deep
Storytime — this is where you get deep and informative. Give them all the value they have been waiting to receive.
Make people spend as much time on your posts as possible.
Your copy should be simple, yet impeccable.
Since the early age of Instagram, the times have changed.
People have changed.
The trends have changed.
The long, compelling caption can get your posts much higher engagement.
But what if you use copy on your actual creative?
Think of these middle carousels as the core of your blog post.
Because Instagram understands and tracks how long people spend on each post, it is automatically adding social proof to your content in terms of “time spent”.
It’s a part of Instagram’s algorithm that your business needs to leverage.
Do your best to brainstorm as compelling a caption as possible.
Another reason to dive deep is that people tend to save posts with lots of writing.
They may not have time to read it immediately, so they might save it for later reading.
6. Give Them Tactics and Examples
Yes, you heard it right.
Give them value upfront.
Engage them and make them part of your community.
I promise they will come for more.
In this example, Dain went into the mechanics of hashtags and researching niches.
Side note: I have seen a couple of case studies from creators that got 300–400% more views on Stories, not just feeds, by incorporating hashtags in their stories.
7. Finish With a Summary
Wrap up your carousel in a number of dot-points easy for your target audience to understand.
8. Prompt a Call to Action: Comment, Save or Share
This is a super important step and the key to hyper-growth.
In 2020, it is no secret that the bigger engagement you get on your posts, the more people see your content, especially within a few minutes after posting.
A spike of 10–15 comments in the first five minutes after publishing your images/photos/videos can make a difference between getting your post on the explore page and not getting there.
Especially long comments where your audience shares their thoughts, their opinions with you.
Long format carousel is a way to engage your target audience and ‘force’ them to spend time creating a meaningful response or question — it helps a lot!
Also, the “SAVE” option creates a huge upside to the engagement of your Instagram post.
What does that mean?
When it comes to the Instagram algorithm, the most important factor was how many likes and comments your posts received.
That is not necessarily the case anymore…
Instagram wants to show its users the most relevant content.
The more likes and comments you get, the more people will see your posts.
That’s how the algorithm works.
The Share feature plays a huge part in the Instagram algorithm.
When people are sharing your posts, it’s a clear sign for Instagram that people not only want to see your posts in their feed but they’re willing to vouch for you by sharing it with their friends creating automatic social-proof around your content.
This is huge!
9. Share It and Respond on Your Story and Reply to All Comments
It goes back to the previous point.
Early likes, comments, saves, and shares help you to get more impressions and reach more people with your posts.
It is a no brainer.
In a 2019 report Hubspot report, over 70% of people reported checking their stories first when logging onto Instagram.
Are you starting to see the pattern here?
You can share your feed post to the story immediately after posting.
When someone clicks on the image inside the story — it’ll be redirected to the original feed post.
And if they like it (through your initial HOOK), there’s a good chance they’ll like the post, comment on it, or save it for later.
This tactic is known to double your engagement and create another avenue for people to engage with your content.