Do Instagram Carousels Nonetheless Outperform Reels?


In 2022, Instagram made huge adjustments to the platform and pushed video content material to the forefront. Instantly, Reels had been all over the place (and incomes large engagement and attain boosts), so customers started to adapt their social media methods accordingly. That’s, till earlier this 12 months.

That’s when Instagram head Adam Mosseri introduced that the platform would reprioritize images. Quickly after, Instagram customers began noticing that their Reels weren’t performing like they used to.

That’s a lot of adjustments, so for those who’re struggling to maintain up with the Instagram algorithm today, you’re not alone. As your pleasant native social media scientists, we needed to search out out: is it true? Are images actually again?

To check this, we determined to pit carousels in opposition to Reels to search out out if carousels are nonetheless the top-performing format on Instagram or if Reels displaced them for good.

Hypothesis: Instagram carousels still earn more reach and engagement than Reels.

We chose carousels as the photo format to test against Reels since they are traditionally considered the most engaging post type on Instagram. Carousels are more interactive than single photos, so people tend to spend more time engaging with them.

In fact, as recently as October 2022, carousels had the highest average engagement rate of all kinds of Instagram posts (0.62%). On the time, video posts (aka Reels) had been proper on their heels with a median engagement price of 0.61%.

Hootsuite’s personal social group finds that their carousel posts get 3.1x more engagement, on common, than their common posts. However did the Nice Reels Push of 2022 lastly dethrone the champions, or have carousels managed to hold onto their place on the high of the heap?

For this experiment, we’re measuring two kinds of metrics: attain and engagement.

Attain tells you the quantity of people that have seen your publish. Engagement consists of likes, feedback, saves and shares. They aid you see what resonates together with your viewers.


My experiment spanned three weeks, from mid-February to early March 2023.

Right here’s what I did:

  • Each week, I might create two units of posts for my classic house decor enterprise account, Dwelling on the Past
  • Every set would come with one carousel and one Reel with comparable content material and captions (six carousels and 6 Reels in complete)
  • My first set of the week can be instructional, whereas my second set can be sales-focused
  • I might publish every set on the similar time (Wednesday or Friday at 9am ET) and pull the outcomes from every publish after 48 hours
  • On the finish of every week, I might award 2 factors: 1 level to the format with the very best complete attain for that week, and 1 level to the format with the very best complete engagement for that week

Armed with my principle and a plan, I jumped into my experiment.


Week 1

My instructional publish this week was a recap of {a magazine} article about my store:


My second publish highlighted some out there objects. I’ve used this content material kind for some time, although I had but to show it right into a Reel.


After every publish had been reside for 48 hours, I captured the outcomes.

Week 1 outcomes

Carousel 122002166N/A
Reel 114120406484
Carousel 215011137N/A
Reel 210000238289

In week 1, my carousels acquired extra likes and saves than the Reels. Nevertheless, my Reels had a broader attain than my carousels.

To be truthful, I hadn’t posted a Reel in a number of weeks earlier than beginning this experiment. My followers had been in all probability excited to see some video content material and gave my Reels further love and a spotlight.

Week 1 outcomes: Reels 1, Carousels 1

Week 2

In Week 2’s instructional publish, I shared some favourite thrifting ideas:


My “out there objects” recap publish adopted the very same format as in Week 1. I used a trending audio clip for the Reel.


Week 2 outcomes

Carousel 3879951,014N/A
Reel 3581212642905
Carousel 415100147N/A
Reel 413100246397

In Week 2, carousels acquired WAY extra likes and likewise noticed extra attain than my Reels.


Week 2 outcomes: Reels 0, Carousels 2

Week 3

My Week 3 instructional publish was a fast take a look at an inside decor pattern. I tagged my favourite maximalist account, Jungalow (1.6M followers), within the Reel and the carousel to see if user-generated content (UGC) yielded any further traction.


My “out there objects” recap publish adopted the very same format as in Weeks 1-2:


Week 3 outcomes

Carousel 556666657N/A
Reel 523621324466
Carousel 625000167N/A
Reel 68000198324

As soon as once more, carousels acquired considerably extra likes and reached extra folks than my Reels.

My UGC didn’t yield any direct outcomes (the model favored my publish however didn’t share it), however hey, no hurt completed.

Week 3 outcomes: Reels 0, Carousels 2

Bonus experiment: boosting a publish

As my experiment got here to an finish, I needed to check out how content material format impacts advert efficiency on Instagram.

For this bonus experiment, I boosted post #5 as a result of the content material of those posts is sort of broad, and my Reel makes use of non-copyrighted music. (Instagram doesn’t permit customers to spice up a publish with copyrighted music.)

My purpose for this advert was to extend profile exercise. I allotted the identical greenback quantity to the carousel and the Reel and let each adverts run for 48 hours earlier than pulling the outcomes.

Publish #5 outcomes – Earlier than & after advert

LikesFeedbackSavesAttainPerformsProfile Exercise
Carousel 5 earlier than advert5666657N/AN/A
Carousel 5 after advert72781,711N/A27
Reel 5 earlier than advert2362324466N/A
Reel 5 after advert45641,3981,70942

The post-ad outcomes are break up between the carousel and the Reel. The carousel advert had higher attain, however the Reels advert yielded extra profile exercise, which was my purpose.

Finally, each adverts obtained extra eyes on my content material.

Last assessment

Within the weekly exams, carousels earned 5 factors, whereas Reels squeaked in with just one level. However listed below are the ultimate numbers on the finish of my experiment:

Carousels 1-62201616112,316
Reels 1-612620522,052

Be aware: I didn’t embrace advert outcomes right here to verify the comparability is as truthful as potential.

Total, it looks like carousels are nonetheless the top-performing publish kind on Instagram.

If we take a look at the likes all through my experiment, the carousels outperform the Reels each single time. Whereas Reels earned extra feedback than carousels, carousels did higher on each different engagement metric.

And if we take a look at attain, carousels carry out barely higher than Reels.

I additionally had a take a look at how the previous three weeks had affected my follower rely and engagement price:

follower growth

following engagement including content interactions

After three weeks, I gained 53 new followers, and my publish interactions are up by 32.6%. Not unhealthy!

What’s higher: Instagram carousels or Reels?

So, are Instagram carousels nonetheless outperforming Reels? In our admittedly restricted research, sure: Instagram carousels proceed to earn extra engagement and attain than Reels do.

Nonetheless, whether or not carousels are higher than Reels relies on your content material kind and viewers.

Content material kind

I run a small enterprise promoting classic objects, so images are key. A carousel permits me to publish a number of images so potential patrons can examine objects earlier than buying. That is how I promote, so carousels will at all times be extra useful to me than Reels.

Judging by the outcomes of my experiment, carousels carry out higher for my account general.

Totally different content material sorts lend themselves extra readily to video, so take into consideration the sort of content material you’re creating and the way your viewers will devour it. If movies make extra sense to your account, then do this. However don’t publish movies only for the sake of it! My knowledge reveals that this doesn’t essentially repay.


Maintain your viewers in thoughts when creating content material. In case you have a enterprise account, comply with these steps to see how your viewers breaks down:

age range of followers

gender of followers

In my case, over 90% of my followers are girls, and most are millennials. As I proceed to develop my enterprise, I have to prioritize this demographic when creating future content material.

To do that, I’ll proceed experimenting with my content mix and verify the metrics often to see what resonates with my viewers. When unsure, iterate!


Make content material you want

Reels are a good way to provide followers a glimpse into your each day life and present your character, so create content material that makes you content!

Foolish Reels that I filmed and edited collectively in only a few minutes did higher than Reels that took plenty of time and vitality. I like making off-the-cuff content material, and it appears to resonate with my viewers.

Don’t spend tons of time on a Reel

Viewers take a look at your content material for a minute or two, so don’t spend hours placing it collectively! Make it attention-grabbing and enjoyable, however don’t get too explicit with precise synching or flawless transitions (except that’s your entire factor) — a posted Reel is healthier than an ideal Reel.

Consider your personal content material as user-generated content material (UGC)

In case your Reel or carousel is related to a bigger account or model, tag them in your caption — social managers are at all times in search of UGC, they usually may repost your content material, which opens up a complete new viewers!

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