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The Best Types of Instagram Posts for Engagement: Carousel, Image, or Video?

By Monique Thomas

Updated on April 8, 2022

5 minute read

Drumroll please...🥁

Published April 8, 2022

Stay on top of the biggest social media marketing trends!

The types of posts you can share on your Instagram feed have evolved over the years — from single images, to carousel posts, to videos.

But what type of Instagram post performs best when it comes to engagement?

We analyzed over 81M Instagram feed posts (excluding Reels) to find the answer, and the results are in. 

Hint: Users like to swipe. 

What Type of Instagram Feed Post Gets the Most Engagement?

Using data collected from January 1, 2021 to February 28, 2022, we analyzed over 44M Instagram feed posts (excluding Reels) and discovered:

  • Carousel posts have the highest average engagement rate of all feed post types

  • Images have a slightly higher average engagement rate than video feed posts (excluding Reels)

chart showing the average engagement rate for carousel posts, images, and videos in 2021 and 2022, excluding reels

But has this always been the case? 

We investigated further and analyzed an additional 37M Instagram feed posts — this time including posts from 2020: 

bar graph showing the average engagement rate for carousels, single images, and videos from 2020 to 2022, excluding reels

As you can see, there are two main insights: 

  • Average engagement rates have dropped for all feed post types over time 

  • Carousel posts have consistently had the highest average engagement rates of all feed post types

Let’s dig into why this is the case… 

Why Is Instagram Engagement Declining for Feed Posts? 

The data is clear: Instagram engagement is dropping for feed posts (photo, carousel, and video) year-over-year.

The reason? Instagram Reels

Instagram has made no secret that Reels are a major priority for the app, and as such, other post types have taken a back seat (for now). 

The good news? You’re not alone! We’re all in the same boat, so try not to take it too personally. 

With an updated algorithm, new Instagram feeds, competition from TikTok, and users setting boundaries with their social media usage, it makes sense that what “works” on Instagram is changing. 

Which means it’s time to pivot.

In 2022, it’s all about experimentation! This is the perfect time to try:

  • Reels! If you’re not creating Reels yet, now's the time start. Think about how you can translate your usual content into this format — it could be as simple as layering several images or Stories in time to a trending audio track. 

  • User-generated content. If you’re not ready to jump on camera, think about how you can leverage your community. Just remember to always get permission before you share. 

  • Getting personal and investing in storytelling. Traditional feed posts may not perform as well as they once did, but they’re not completely out of the picture either. Use your captions to build connections and encourage engagement — plenty of creators are still seeing success by sharing relatable photos, carousels, and video posts.

FYI: You can schedule Instagram posts in advance with Later and they’ll automatically publish at your chosen date and time. Sign up today — for free!

Why Are Instagram Carousel Posts the Best Type of Feed Posts for Engagement?

Based on Later’s study, carousel posts have consistently outperformed image and video posts over the years. 

Which isn’t too surprising considering how effective they are at driving engagement. 

First, time spent is an indicator for Instagram’s algorithm, and you spend more time scrolling through a carousel post than a single photo. 

Second, carousel posts often surface in users’ feeds more than once, doubling (or tripling) the opportunity for likes, comments, and shares. 

The format also lends itself to sharing more authentic and personable snapshots — hello, photo dump trend — which can be more engaging than a static image or aesthetic video.

So, if you want to increase your engagement on Instagram, getting creative with carousel posts is a good idea. 

Here’s how you can get started: 

3 Ways to Create Engaging Carousel Posts

Tip #1: Create a Round-up of User-generated Content (UGC)

Using UGC on Instagram is an effective way to increase brand loyalty, promote your products, and bolster engagement. 

By creating a round-up of recently tagged posts, you can spotlight your community and sell your products in a less salesy way. It’s a win-win. 

Take Golde who shared a round-up of customers wearing their exclusive sweatshirt:

Your community will appreciate being acknowledged and featured on your feed. And it’ll encourage them to keep sharing! 

Tip #2: Curate Photo Dumps 

This is your opportunity to show a less filtered or edited version of yourself or your brand. 

These photo dumps can be perfect for showing a recap of an event, your brand’s moodboard, or a behind-the-scenes (BTS) photo diary. 

Speaking of BTS…

Tip #3: Give a Glimpse Behind-the-scenes (BTS)

Your community is curious to see a glimpse of how your business is run! 

How do you launch new products and campaigns? How did you really renovate your new living space? What does a day in your life look like? 

Similar to a photo dump, these BTS carousel posts come across as a less filtered version of you or your brand — further humanizing you and creating a connection.

And the best news? With Later, you can plan, schedule, and automatically publish your carousel posts — so you never have to log in to manually post! Get started now: 

So, What Are the Best Types of Instagram Posts? 

It’s undeniable that traditional feed posts are taking a hit in terms of engagement due to Instagram’s focus on Reels. 

However, image, carousel, and video posts are not a lost cause. With the right strategy, you can still see huge results — especially from carousel posts. 

Focus on your community, experiment with your content, and the engagement will roll in. 

Ready to plan and schedule your social posts? Sign up to Later — the social marketing platform trusted by 4M+ brands, creators, and small businesses. 

Plan, schedule, and automatically publish your social media posts with Later.


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