How Colleges and Universities Can Use Instagram's Carousel Feature

I remember the days when Instagram only allowed posting one, square image at a time. They were simpler times. Now, there are several features offered by the Instagram platform for sharing content with others. One of those newer features (launched in early 2017) is the Instagram Carousel—a feature that allows the user to post several images and/or videos as a slideshow. Unlike Facebook, which shows thumbnails of all images in a preview when they are posted, Instagram shows only one image at a time in the slideshow, retaining the simplicity of focus that the company had when it first started.

In the Apiarity store, you’ll see a new book, 101 Instagram Ideas for Higher-Ed Social Media Managers, which comprises several ideas for all of Instagram features, such as ideas for video and live video, the Carousel feature, images, geotagging, Instagram Stories, your captions, IGTV, and more.

In this post, I want to share four ideas from the book—these ideas are about using the Carousel feature creatively.

1. Show different angles of the same space.

This idea is especially relevant if you’re Instagramming an event. You can show all perspectives in a series of photos. If there is a speaker and an audience, consider posting two photos—one from other speaker’s point of view and one from the audience’s point of view (maybe even two from the audience point of view—first row and last row). This also works well for university museums and galleries. Instead of walking around the gallery capturing the gallery in any standard way, stand in one spot and capture each angle from that spot. When one of your Instagram followers swipes through the Carousel, they will feel like they are spinning with you in the middle of the gallery.

2. Show it in reverse.

Take a process—maybe a chemical reaction in the lab—and show the outcome first, then the process in reverse, image by image (or video by video). This is especially effective because the outcome is what is most able to capture a user’s attention and get them to start swiping in the Carousel. So, posting the outcome as the first photo in the Carousel instead of the final photo, and then moving backwards, can use storytelling skills in a unique way.

3. Explain a process.

Is getting to the archaeology section of the library a complicated route? Did your department or program release a new mobile app and you want to show how to use it? Is there any process you think you could explain visually? Use a Carousel post. You can even number or name the processes with some text over the image.

4. Make them guess.

When I worked at MIT, some of the most popular Instagram posts were those that made followers guess. A university Instagram account is naturally going to get a lot of followers that love learning, challenges, and trying something new. So, give them what they want! Find a place on the campus of your university, college, trade school, or other educational program and take photos of a few details there. Maybe the crown molding, a detail of the ironwork on the banister, or the unique floor tiles. Post these details in a Carousel post and challenge your followers to guess where the location is.

There are many ways to use the Carousel feature on Instagram. I share eight more ideas in my “Experiment with the Carousel Feature” chapter in 101 Instagram Ideas for Higher-Ed Social Media Managers (chapter 3).

You can learn more about the e-book here.