Instagram Carousels Are the Most Engaging Post Type [STUDY]

As Instagram’s evolved, so too are the types of posts you can share on your feed — from single images, to carousel posts, to videos.

But what type of Instagram post performs best when it comes to engagement?

We analyzed over 81M Instagram feed posts (excluding Reels) to find the answer, and the results are in.

Hint: Users like to swipe.

What Type of Instagram Feed Post Gets the Most Engagement?

Using data collected from January 1, 2021 to February 28, 2022, we analyzed over 44M Instagram feed posts (excluding Reels) and discovered:

  • Carousel posts have the highest average engagement rate of all feed post types
  • Images have a slightly higher average engagement rate than video feed posts (excluding Reels)

But has this always been the case?

We investigated further and analyzed an additional 37M Instagram feed posts — this time including posts from 2020:

As you can see, there are two main insights:

  • Average engagement rates have dropped for all feed post types over time
  • Carousel posts have consistently had the highest average engagement rates of all feed post types

Let’s dig into why this is the case…

Why Is Instagram Engagement Declining for Feed Posts? 

The data is clear: Instagram engagement is dropping for feed posts (photo, carousel, and video) year-over-year.

The reason? Instagram Reels.

Instagram has made no secret that Reels are a major priority for the app, and as such, other post types have taken a back seat (for now).

The good news? You’re not alone! We’re all in the same boat, so try not to take it too personally.

With an updated algorithmnew Instagram feeds, competition from TikTok, and users setting boundaries with their social media usage, it makes sense that what “works” on Instagram is changing.

Which means it’s time to pivot.

In 2022, it’s all about experimentation! This is the perfect time to try:

  • Reels! If you’re not creating Reels yet, now’s the time start. Think about how you can translate your usual content into this format — it could be as simple as layering several images or Stories in time to a trending audio track.
  • User-generated content. If you’re not ready to jump on camera, think about how you can leverage your community. Just remember to always get permission before you share.
  • Getting personal and investing in storytelling. Traditional feed posts may not perform as well as they once did, but they’re not completely out of the picture either. Use your captions to build connections and encourage engagement — plenty of creators are still seeing success by sharing relatable photos, carousels, and video posts.

Why Are Instagram Carousel Posts the Best Type of Feed Posts for Engagement?

Based on Later’s study, carousel posts have consistently outperformed image and video posts over the years.

Which isn’t too surprising considering how effective they are at driving engagement.

First, time spent is an indicator for Instagram’s algorithm, and you spend more time scrolling through a carousel post than a single photo.

Second, carousel posts often surface in users’ feeds more than once, doubling (or tripling) the opportunity for likes, comments, and shares.

The format also lends itself to sharing more authentic and personable snapshots — hello, photo dump trend — which can be more engaging than a static image or aesthetic video.

So, if you want to increase your engagement on Instagram, getting creative with carousel posts is a good idea.

Here’s how you can get started:

3 Ways to Create Engaging Carousel Posts

Tip #1: Create a Round-up of User-generated Content (UGC)

Using UGC on Instagram is an effective way to increase brand loyalty, promote your products, and bolster engagement.

By creating a round-up of recently tagged posts, you can spotlight your community and sell your products in a less salesy way. It’s a win-win.

Take Golde who shared a round-up of customers wearing their exclusive sweatshirt:

Your community will appreciate being acknowledged and featured on your feed. And it’ll encourage them to keep sharing!

Tip #2: Curate Photo Dumps 

This is your opportunity to show a less filtered or edited version of yourself or your brand.

These photo dumps can be perfect for showing a recap of an event, your brand’s moodboard, or a behind-the-scenes (BTS) photo diary.

Speaking of BTS…

Tip #3: Give a Glimpse Behind-the-scenes (BTS)

Your community is curious to see a glimpse of how your business is run!

How do you launch new products and campaigns? How did you really renovate your new living space? What does a day in your life look like?

Similar to a photo dump, these BTS carousel posts come across as a less filtered version of you or your brand — further humanizing you and creating a connection.