• Future Social
  • Posts
  • You probably shouldn't post just one photo on Instagram

You probably shouldn't post just one photo on Instagram

Carousels, Reels, or nothing.

Go to the movies. Like, the actual theaters. I need Hollywood to keep making movies, and the box office numbers are very soft right now. Get off your couches and support film. My last two watches: The Fall Guy (lovedlovedloved) and Tuesday (heavy & lovably weird).

But you’re here for social media, so let’s talk about:

  • Why you shouldn’t make single Image Instagram posts

  • An interview with the head of Instagram

  • A TikTok Love Story

—Jack Appleby

You probably shouldn’t just post one photo on Instagram. Reels, Carousels, or nothing.

It’s a short-form vertical world, baby. You know, I know it, and every social pro who’s spent the last few years scrambling to get better at video content knows it. With Instagram Reels, TikTok, and YouTube Shorts all reaching both owned and new audiences thanks to For You Page algorithms, it feels hard to justify static forms of content in 2024.

I’ve got good news for ya, though. Photos? Illustrations? Media that doesn’t move? It all absolutely still has a place, especially with TikTok Carousels performing quite well.

But that’s the important caveat. Carousels. Multi-image posts. Posts that have us swiping for more.

And with that, I honestly think you should probably retire the single photo post on Instagram. Which feels sacrilegious considering the gram’s origins, but they’re just not as effective as they once were, with followers or the algorithms.

Reels, Carousels, or nothing. Let’s talk about it.

Carousels give you two chances in the feed

Have you ever noticed during your lunchtime scrolling that sometimes Instagram shows you the second picture in a carousel instead of the first? That’s because they already showed you Image One, and you scrolled right past it, so they popped it back in your feed with Image Two.

Carousels are the only content type that gets a second chance on Instagram. That’s an invaluable safety mechanism for your content considering how mindlessly we flick our thumbs through the feeds.

Carousels generate more engagement

From our pals at Hootsuite: “Hootsuite’s own social team finds that their carousel posts get 3.1x more engagement on average than their regular posts. Globally, carousels have the highest average rate of all types of Instagram posts (0.62%).”

Or how about this chart from Social Insider? Looks like Carousels have outengaged Static Images for yearsss.

I generally try to avoid studies like these (they assume everyone’s making best-in-class content across all mediums which rarely is the case), but I think the takeaway here is pretty simple—carousels offer more content for viewers to consider, giving them more reasons to engage!

A Carousel swipe counts as engagement

We’re all constantly guessing how to feed the algorithms, but we can agree on one thing: the more users interact with the content, the more the content gets feed to both our owned and new audiences.

Algorithmically speaking, a user swiping on a carousel counts as an “engagement” even if they take no other action. That means not only do Carousels generate more engagement than static posts, but that just browsing the content counts as engagement!

You can share more info + creativity in Carousels

I think that’s all fairly obvious, but it should be said. You can both sell harder and get deeper with your stories when you’ve got more content real estate.

An example on the creative side—a favorite shoegaze band of mine turned their Instagram Carousel into the story of their most famous record. (Pic below, you can read my analysis here).

Wanna make your bosses really happy? You can actually ad promotional + purchase information to the end of your Instagram Carousels.

Check out this carousel from DinosAndComics, one of the cutest lil’ Instagram comic accounts. In this one Instagram Carousel, they:

  • Share a frame-by-frame story in the first 4 posts

  • Offer a shareable full-story-version in post 5

  • Show you how to buy the characters in post 6

All while adding value to users without making them feel sold to.

But what about [incredibly niche exception]

Listen, there’s an excuse to every rule… but I really do challenge that almost every single image post you’re working on for your brand would be even better as a short carousel. Maybe even just one extra image!

Give it a shot. Get that content up. I bet the results will follow.

(AI + Socials + Content + Scheduling) = STORI

Need to solve your social media presence? STORI is the answer. Create your brand, generate content and publish everywhere within minutes. Add the value and subtract marketing costs to your brand.

Social Cues

There are so many social big thinkers out there, writing all kinds of amazing strategies, analysis, and breakdowns. All ships rise with the tide, so here are a few reads from other places I think you could learn from.

My favorite creator interviewers interviewed the guy in charge of the algorithm we care about most. All 90 minutes are honestly worth your time.

I kinda thought this was always the case, but apparently it’s official now. The rules in place make sense for the most part; the naked bots in my Twitter replies sadly do not make sense.

As a 6’5” tall looking for love, I can’t help but love watching TallTokers Tyler Bergantino (6’9”, 1.2 million followers) and Gabby Gonzales (6’1”, 600k followers) get to know each other right before our eyes. They’re two interviewers who make content about being tall, then went viral when they collabed, and now they’re going on dates and documenting the courtship. I might have to take back all the slander I’ve thrown at reality TV.