Let me guess. You just tried to post a carousel on Instagram and it did not work. I’ve been there. It is frustrating when you keep trying but your carousel won’t post.
After searching online, asking my Instagram community, and trial and error, I figured out why my carousels were not working. Through research and trial and error, I’ve also found some other tips to help your carousel get more engagement on Instagram.
Why Your Carousel Won’t Post on Instagram
Hopefully you have already checked to make sure it isn’t one of the normal problems like internet connectivity or one too many hashtags. If those things are right, it probably comes down to the accounts you are tagging.
While you can normally tag 20 accounts in your posts, you can only tag 15 accounts in an Instagram carousel. If you tag more than 15 accounts, your carousel will not post.
I typically like to tag all of the feature accounts I can to try to get some free exposure for my account (you can see my tips for getting featured here). After two days of trying to post my first carousel, I was annoyed, angry, and more than a little frustrated. Searching Google was not much help either at the time. Instead, someone sent me a DM on Instagram and told me that you can’t tag as many feature accounts. Sure enough, once I had 15 tags instead of 20, my photo and video posted right away.
When you post a single photo or video, Instagram will tell you that you have reached your limit on tags. When you post a carousel, it will still let you tag all 20 accounts. You will have to make sure to keep count or to add all 20 and then go back and remove 5 of them.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Posting Carousels
Do carousels have better or worse engagement than regular posts? I remember searching for this when I first started to post carousels. I wasn’t sure if posting a carousel meant less people would interact with my post or if Instagram may not show it as often.
Sometimes Carousels Have Lower Engagement
This is true sometimes. If you post 10 photos in a carousel and do not keep the short attention span of someone scrolling through Instagram, your carousel may have lower engagement. Similarly, if someone doesn’t want to take the time to swipe through a carousel, it may also have lower engagement.
In general, sponsored content or content advertising a brand typically receives lower engagement. Carousels are often ad posts because you can post a photo that looks more like your normal photo and then additional photos or videos showcasing the product. This may also feed into the idea that carousels have lower engagement than regular posts on Instagram.
Below you can find 5 tips to help your carousel have good engagement, but know that it isn’t all bad new with carousels. There are some disadvantages with not being able to tag as many accounts, but you probably aren’t getting much engagement just from tagging the accounts. However, carousels actually have a little known advantage too.
The Advantage of Posting Carousels
Despite some carousels having lower engagement, there is one benefit of a carousel that a regular post doesn’t have. Carousel posts are often shown twice in your feed. Instagram gives them an extra chance for engagement that normal posts don’t get.
Here is how it works: Yesterday you posted a carousel with two images in it. As a follower who sometimes engages with your content, Instagram puts your post in my feed when I log in. Maybe I’m scrolling quickly or do not connect with that first image. Maybe I logged in just to look at stories or send/answer a DM, but your post was at the top of my feed. Either way, Instagram shows me your post and I do not engage.
Normally, that is the end of the story unless I go to your page later and see the post there. With carousels, you get a second chance. The next day, I log into Instagram again. I’m scrolling and see your post. Now Instagram is showing me the second image in your carousel. I realize I must have missed your post yesterday and go ahead and engage with it today.
Because there is more than one image, Instagram takes a chance and shows the second image typically the next day. If someone does not engage with it the first time, they may see it a second time. I have noticed this a few times in a scenario much like the one I played out earlier. There is no evidence that it is shown additional times if you include more than two photos. However, this is an extra chance for your post to be seen by your followers just because there is a second image to show them as a “new” post.
If you are posting carousels, you should consider not posting a new post the next day. Let Instagram have a chance to show your carousel again. If you post a new post, Instagram will prioritize that post, making it less likely that someone sees your carousel a second time. This is just something to consider when posting carousels.
Other Carousel Tips for Instagram
Just because carousels sometimes have lower engagement, that does not mean you should not post them. In fact, some collaborations may request that you post a carousel. Other times you may have a hard time figuring out which picture to post and want to post more than one. Your engagement may be the same or higher on a carousel if you use these tips, especially if Instagram gives it a second chance with your followers.
1. TAG THE BIGGEST ACCOUNTS FIRST
Since this post started off talking about how you can only tag 15 accounts on a carousel post for it to work, let’s start there. When choosing your 30 hashtags, you may choose mainly feature accounts like I do. If that is the case, you now can only choose to tag 15 of those accounts.
When you are choosing the 15 accounts to tag, start with the biggest accounts and biggest hashtags. For example, if one account has 500,000 followers and close to a million uses of the hashtag, they are not likely to see your photos just from you using the hashtag. That is an account you probably want to tag if you use their hashtag. If another account has 50,000 followers and 100,000 uses of the hashtag, they are more likely to see your post on the hashtag than the bigger account.
I typically start with the biggest pages or the pages that I most would like to be featured on. Then I move down the list from there. Not all of the hashtags I use tie directly to a feature page, so sometimes I can get through most of them before I hit my limit.
2. ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO SWIPE
I know this may seem obvious, but sometimes people need to be reminded to swipe and view the rest of your pictures. You can always give them a preview of what comes next by telling them what they will see when they swipe over on your initial photo or video. Sometimes just a simple reminder is enough to get them to check out the other images and videos.
3. TRY TO GET PEOPLE TO STAY ON YOUR PHOTO LONGER
Rumor has it (since Instagram doesn’t like to tell us much) that Instagram pays attention to how long people look at your post. This may factor into the algorithm. It takes longer to look at multiple pictures and videos than it does just one picture or video. You could always ask people which image they like better or tell a story through the images/videos to help people stick around. You can also show behind the scenes videos or bloopers of that first image. People like to feel included, so sometimes sharing more can help them feel like they are a part of it.
4. SHARE MORE BUT MAKE IT WORTH IT
Going back to Tip #3, if you are going to make people stay longer, it has to be worth their time. If you are going to post more than 2 – 3 photos for people to swipe through, make it worth their time to do that. If you are using 10 images, people may get bored and move on. For me, I tend not to watch if there are a bunch of videos in a carousel unless they really grab my attention.
Similar to captions, you don’t want people to get bored and leave early. Writing a long caption needs to captivate attention and so does posting a carousel.
5. SHARE WHAT YOU WANT
Ultimately, it is your page. Post what you want. If you love posting carousels, post them. If you don’t like them, don’t post them. You need to love what you post or you won’t want to keep posting. Whether carousels get more or less engagement for you, don’t force yourself into doing something you don’t enjoy.
Are you a fan of carousel posts on Instagram or do you prefer singular posts?
For more of my Instagram tips series, click here for tips to grow authentically (including some tips everyone assumes you already know), write engaging captions, get features/shout-outs, and avoid Instagram growth hacks that will hurt you in the long run.
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Thursday 27th of August 2020
Hi! I saw this post and thought maybe there is someone out there that could help me. I'm trying to upload images for a story carousel ad, but Ads Manager keeps telling me that they are the wrong size. Both images are 1080 x 1920 and uploading them as a regular story ad is no problem. Facebook Business has shut down their support and I am completely clueless to why it's not working.
Monday 26th of April 2021
I'm so sorry - I'm not great with Facebook or Instagram ads and don't use them. Maybe reach out to @explorewithkate on Instagram - she is an ads expert.
Flo-State Phoenix (@ricflomusic)
Friday 1st of May 2020
is being bugging me for a long time why I cant post carousels and you stated you can only tag 15 max people is a major key! Thank you! I was getting so frustrated and didn't understand, big help x
Wednesday 27th of May 2020
I'm so glad I could help! I had the same issue when I was trying to post one with 20 tags.