There are a number of ways to increase Instagram Story engagement, but what about engagement with feed content? According to a recent study by Socialinsider and Bannersnack, it’s carousel posts that are offering brands flexibility in their marketing on the popular social media platform and producing great results, with an average engagement rate higher than both images and videos.
Carousel Posts are Growing in Popularity
In the analysis of close to 22.4 million total Instagram posts spanning 3 and a half years, of which 2.96 million were carousel posts, the latter was found to be on the rise. Since the release of the carousel feature, brands’ adoption of this post type has increased significantly – in 2017, just 3-4% of Instagram content consisted of carousel posts, whereas in July 2020 that percentage has risen to 19.4%.
Not only that, but carousel posts’ share of total posts in May 2017 (14.4%) surpassed that of videos (13.8%), with images’ dominance receding a little from 70.8% in 2019 to 67.8% in 2020. Since January this year, carousel posts’ share has increased month by month, suggesting that it could become the primary form of organic content on Instagram in the future.
Higher Engagement with Carousel Posts
It’s no wonder that brands are using carousel posts more and more: engagement rates identified in the study posit the carousel post as the most engaging post type (1.92%), above image (1.74%) and video (1.45%).
What’s more, this engagement rate masks some variation by slide number. While 2-slide posts have an engagement rate of 1.9%, dropping to 1.7% among 4-slide posts, those figures rise with each subsequent increase, to a high exceeding 2% for posts with 10 slides.
Despite this, 10 slide carousels are not nearly as popular (6.8% share) as those with 2 slides (33.1%), 3 slides (19.7%) or 4 slides (14.6%), such that it’s possible there’s somewhat of an inverse relationship between popularity and engagement rate.
Mixing Images and Videos Gets Results
Though image-only carousels are by far the most popular type of carousel post (88.8% share), marketers might want to consider the value of integrating video into their carousels. These mixed carousels are next-most common (7.3%), followed by video-only (4%).
The opportunity for flexibility and mixed media in carousel posts is producing results, with mixed carousels achieving the highest engagement rates (2.33%), above video-only (1.86%) and image-only (1.80%). Similarly, previous research by Quintly found that the use of video also increases engagement with Instagram Stories.
That said, if it’s comments and conversations that brands want to generate when it comes to engagement, then video could be the best choice. Overall, carousels achieve an average of about 8 comments per post, which is higher than standard image posts (5.7) but lower than standard video posts (11.1).
And, when comparing types of carousel posts, video-only posts achieve the highest median number of comments per post (26) by some margin, followed by mixed carousels (16) and image-only carousels (7).
Calls to Action
As for engaging users with carousel posts, explicitly inviting interaction can be the best approach. The study found that including ‘swipe left’ or similar messaging into a post’s caption improved its engagement rate, taking it from an average 1.8% to 2%.
Some brands are making the most of this opportunity, with about 1 in 20 posts using ‘swipe’ messaging, but the vast majority (95%) do not use this kind of call to action.
Read more in the full study here.
About the Data: Findings are based on an analysis of close to 22.4 million total Instagram posts, of which about 2.96 million were carousels posted between January 2017 and July 2020. Data extracted by Socialinsiders from brands posts within that exist within the tool’s database.