We’ve all seen carousel ads in our social feeds. But do they really work?
Known for their swipeable format, carousel ads are most often seen on Instagram and Facebook in Feeds and Stories. And because they can showcase multiple images or products in one place, they’re naturally more interactive than a single-image ad which can easily be scrolled past.
But there are certain ways to use carousel ads to encourage even more interaction, increase engagement, and showcase your brand’s offerings.
Here’s how and when to use carousel ads on Facebook and Instagram to get the most out of this interactive ad format.
What are carousel ads?
Carousel ads are a type of ad format that allows you to share multiple images or videos in one swipeable ad. They are called “carousels” because these ads have a rotating effect, similar to a carousel device like a conveyor belt or a merry-go-round.
You can create carousel ads on nearly every social platform, from Facebook to Twitter and even LinkedIn. But for this article, we’re going to focus on Meta’s ad platforms, including Facebook and Instagram.
In Ads Manager, you can create carousel ads for most ad placements, including:
- Facebook Feed
- Facebook Marketplace
- Instagram Feed
- Instagram Stories
- Audience Network
Carousel ads can include up to 10 images or videos. Each image or video slide, also referred to as a card, can have its own headline, description, link, and call to action button — giving your carousel ad multiple opportunities to convert people.
Why should you use carousel ads?
Not only are carousel ads more visually engaging and interactive, but they’re proven to perform better than single-image ads.
When Facebook first introduced the carousel format, carousel link ads had a 30-50% lower cost per conversion and 20-30% lower cost per click than single-image link ads.
On Instagram, carousel ads are just as effective. A case study on the clothing company Lacoste found that using the carousel ad format on Instagram Stories generated a 61% lift in click-through rate (CTR) and a 32% lower cost per click (CPC) compared to other ad types.
Pro tip: You’ll need a Facebook Business Page to create ads on both Facebook and Instagram. Here’s a quick tutorial on how to create your Facebook Business Page if you don’t have one set up yet:
5 great ways to use carousel ads
1. Share multiple products in one ad
One of the best ways to use carousel ads is to highlight multiple products or services. The carousel format gives you more space and creativity to show off your features than a single-image ad.
Use this space to share a new collection, best-sellers, or a category of products like Burrow does in this Facebook carousel ad. The furniture company highlights several sofas from its shop and includes the “Shop now” CTA on each slide.
Source: Burrow on Facebook
This ad from Burrow also works well because all the images are product shots with a plain white background. A lifestyle shot or a distracting colorful background thrown into the mix would disrupt the flow of the carousel.
If you’re going to showcase multiple products, choose images that visually work well together. Carousels are designed to look cohesive as users swipe through, so the images should have a similar feeling or style. Select images from the same collection or brand photoshoot to make your carousel ad seamless and engaging.
This Instagram carousel ad from Few Moda is another great example of choosing cohesive images. As you swipe, you can see different outfits from the brand’s new seasonal collection, each image featuring a set of color-coordinated outfits.
Source: Few Moda on Instagram
2. Tell a story
Storytelling is at the heart of social media, and carousel ads are another opportunity to tell a story.
The storytelling method can be used in a number of creative ways, from sharing a sequence of events, a step-by-step tutorial, or even a series of tips or fun facts that build interest as a user swipes through.
MasterClass uses a carousel ad on Facebook to promote one of its classes taught by supermodel Naomi Campbell. The class teaches modeling fundamentals, and the ad offers a teaser of the class by sharing three tips for posing in photos.
Source: MasterClass on Facebook
This is a creative way to get people to swipe through your entire carousel ad and generate interest in the class. (And who wouldn’t want to learn how to take better selfies from a global supermodel like Naomi Campbell?)
Plus, the carousel design is easy to digest and scroll through, as each image includes a quick tip and a seamless way to sign up if you’re interested in the full class.
When you choose to tell a story using the carousel format, just remember to follow the basic storytelling principles and include a clear beginning, middle, and end so it’s easy for your audience to follow along.
3. Offer an exclusive promotion
Another way to use social carousel ads to reach your audience is by offering an exclusive promotion. Promo codes are especially beneficial for product brands as you can showcase a series of products in one ad.
Not to mention, Facebook is the number one source of discount code discovery in the US. Over 40% of consumers say they use Facebook to look for promo codes, coupons, and discounts, followed by Instagram. What does this mean for marketers? A carousel ad paired with a promo code is a winning combination.
Take this Bombas ad, for example. The sock brand includes a promo code for 20% off in the headline, which immediately draws in a shopper. The carousel then allows them to scroll through multiple products before they decide to purchase, keeping that discount in mind as they visually shop.
Source: Bombas on Facebook
4. Encourage interaction
Carousel ads are all about interaction. While this ad format naturally encourages a user to swipe through multiple images and videos, there are opportunities to optimize your carousel ad further for maximum interaction.
Focus on the details for each card. Use the headline, description, and CTA buttons to encourage people to keep swiping and improve your engagement.
For example, this Thinkful carousel ad on Instagram uses a bright graphic with large numbers and an impressive data point in their carousel. These elements make it hard for their target audience *not* to keep scrolling to learn more.
Source: Thinkful on Instagram
Another example of encouraging more interaction is this Facebook ad from Joybird. The furniture brand took advantage of each carousel card by including different messages and CTAs on each one, including a “Shop Now” button, a “Get Directions” button, and a “See More” action with a website link.
These varied CTAs and messages in one carousel ad encourage people to continue swiping through and interacting with different elements, depending on what they want to do next.
Source: Joybird on Facebook
5. Introduce a service or feature
Carousel ads are also a great way to introduce an audience to your service or product. Since you can include up to 10 slides in your carousel, there’s ample space to highlight any key facts, features, or processes.
This format is especially beneficial if you need time to educate, nudge, or persuade your audience before they become a customer. If you’re selling a high-priced item or a service requiring a long-term commitment, carousel ads give you space to make your case.
Take a look at this carousel ad from Viva Day Spa that outlines their botox service. The series of images is a great example of how to use carousels to introduce and provide more information.
The sequence of Viva Day Spa’s carousel ad eases potential customers in by addressing any questions or hesitations they may have about the service. After introducing the service, the ad mentions its experienced team and shares social proof through customer reviews. The ad also mentions that they offer free consultations and includes a discount for first-time clients.
Source: Viva Day Spa on Facebook
2 ways to create carousel ads
You can create carousel ads directly in Meta Ads Manager or by using an all-in-one social media tool like Hootsuite.
Before you create your ad, take note of Meta’s carousel ad specs. You can find the full design specs here, but below is an overview of what you need to know to get started:
- Minimum number of carousel cards: 2
- Maximum number of carousel cards: 10
- Aspect ratio: 1:1
- Resolution: 1080 x 1080 pixels
- Image file format: .jpg and .png
- Minimum number of carousel cards: 2
- Maximum number of carousel cards: 3 (Stories), 10 (Feed)
- Aspect ratio: 1:1 (Feed), 9:16 (Stories)
- Video length: Up to 60 seconds (Feed), up to 15 seconds (Stories)
- Resolution: 1080 x 1080 pixels (Feed), 1080 x 1920 pixels (Stories)
- Image file format: .jpg and .png
Here’s how to create a carousel ad using Hootsuite or Meta Ads Manager.
Create a carousel ad using Hootsuite
1. In your Hootsuite Ads account, select New campaign.
2. Next, enter a campaign name, select your ad account, and then select your campaign objective.
3. On the Ads Design page, select Carousel in the Ad Format section. Once you select the carousel format, add your creative elements for each product in the carousel.
4. Specify the text you want to appear above the carousel ad. You can enter more than one ad text for split testing.
5. In the Items section, select Yes or No for Creative Optimization.
Select Yes to let Facebook optimize for the best elements and automatically select and order the cards in your carousel ad. You can add up to 10 cards to your ad with this selection.
Select No to choose the card order yourself. You can add up to five cards to your ad with this selection.
6. Select a card to upload an image or video, and enter its headline, URL, description and Call To Action (CTA). To upload a video, you first need to scroll to the Placement & Previews section and deselect the Instagram and Messenger Home placement options.
7. Select Add Item to add more cards. Your carousel ad needs at least two cards.
8. When you’re done uploading the creative for each card, review the entire carousel in the Placement & Previews section.
9. Select Proceed and complete your campaign set up as usual.
Create a carousel ad using Meta Ads Manager
1. First, open Facebook Ads Manager and click Create in the top left corner.
2. Next, choose an objective for your carousel ad campaign. What do you want your carousel ad to achieve? Your options are Awareness, Traffic, Leads, App promotion, or Sales. Meta notes that Engagement is not an objective that supports the carousel format.
3. Next, you can add your campaign details, such as campaign name, special category (if applicable), and whether or not you want to A/B test or use Advantage campaign budget.
4. In the next step, you can set up more campaign details, such as conversion location, budget, schedule, and audience.
5. Once you’ve entered your campaign details, you’ll get to Ad setup. Select the Carousel format. You also have the option to select whether you want to manually upload your ad content or if you want Facebook to automatically pull media from your catalog.
6. Now, for the fun part: Add the images or videos you want to share in your carousel. Under Ad creative, upload up to 10 images or videos. You can customize the headline, description, and URL for each card.
On the right side of the page, you can see a preview of what your carousel will look like in various placements like Facebook Feed, Instagram Feed, Stories, and Reels.
Once you complete the ad creative setup and placements, hit Publish in the bottom right corner and your carousel ad is good to go.
Frequently asked questions about carousel ads
What is a carousel ad?
A carousel ad is a single ad with multiple images and/or videos. Carousel ads are used on social to share multiple products or features in one ad.
How many ads does a carousel have?
On Meta platforms, carousel ads can have between 2 and 10 images and/or videos in a single ad. Each image or video has its own headline, description, link, and CTA button.
What makes a good carousel ad?
Good carousel ads are seamless and use cohesive images or videos to tell a story, share a process, or highlight a set of products, features, or services.
How do you create a carousel ad?
You can create a Facebook or Instagram carousel ad directly in Ads Manager under your Meta Business account. You can also use an all-in-one social media tool like Hootsuite.
Why is it called a carousel?
These ads are called “carousels” because this format has a rotating effect similar to that of a carousel device like a conveyor belt or a merry-go-round.
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