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Why is Instagram’s Carousel Available To All Users?

Posted by Arujan Ravindran on Mar 23, 2017 12:08:37 PM


All Instagram users can now share multiple pictures and videos in one post (Carousel). In Carousel you may include up to 10 pictures and videos, and your followers can see the next item by swiping left.

This was originally only available to advertisers and sponsored posts.  So why has Instagram made this feature available to all users? Here are three of my theories.

Active Instagram Carousel2.png

Theory 1: the almighty dollar, and how carousel will help an ad’s engagement rate

Instagram may have thought that by increasing the amount of organic carousel posts, carousel posts by brands or advertisers will not seem foreign. Imagine if you had seen an ad in a carousel format last month, you knew right away that it was a sponsored post because it was alien to your timeline. If you see one today, you might swipe through it without initially realizing that it was a sponsored ad. Voila, you have now engaged with the ad.

Also, Instagram provides advertisers with a dynamic ordering feature which shows the highest performing piece of content first in a carousel ad post. Therefore if carousel ads do increase engagement and brand awareness, then it was beneficial for Instagram to make this feature available to all users. Currently, 2.61% of followers engage with an Instagram post, and we will soon find out if this rate will increase.

Theory 2:  Instagram’s algorithm could work better with carousel

Instagram users miss 70% of posts on their timeline. Although Instagram’s algorithm does a great job of bringing posts you might be interested in to the top of your timeline, with carousel the algorithm could work better.

For example:  went to your friend’s graduation ceremony? Instead of having separate posts for a video of them throwing their graduation cap, a picture of them holding their diploma, and of course a selfie of you two together; you can now post all three in a carousel. Now the algorithm doesn’t have to deliberate which one out of those three pictures will be prioritized on the timeline. Spoiler alert- it would have been the selfie. That wicked vid you took would have fell into the 70% abyss of posts missed by your followers. Since the algorithm has less posts to manage and prioritize, it will have a better accuracy in prioritizing the most suited posts to the top of your timeline.

Theory 3:  competition and user hunger for more content

With over 400 million daily users, people are hungry for good content. Instagram might believe that by providing users with carousel, they will be the primary source for most of a user’s content posting and consumption. This will provide them with an edge over their competitors: Snapchat, Twitter, and the ever struggling Tumblr. Both the latter of which have extensions from Instagram; a post on Instagram could be pushed to Twittter, and the same post can be directly uploaded to Tumblr.  Having a small photo album of pictures could be a better lure than a collection of photos that are going to disappear in 24 hours. As Instagram already has Stories, which directly competes with Snapchat; Carousel is an add-on to provide users with the best of both worlds. Carousel could help Instagram catapult over the competition.

What now?

As users now have the ability to combine up to 10 pictures and videos in one post, I’m looking forward to how users and advertisers will take advantage of carousel. In conclusion, Instagram may have made carousel publically available as it could help increase engagement and profit, help the algorithm work more effectively, and to push Instagram light-years ahead of the competition.  Although Instagram’s true intentions remain a mystery, the theories I presented are logical and reasonable.

Let me know your thoughts and comment with your own theories below.


Arujan Ravindran

Manager, Media Partnerships & Investments


Topics: Social Media, instagram