Everything you Need to Know About the Best Performing Slideshows on Instagram

instagram slideshow May 17, 2017

Here's the real deal with Instagram Slideshows.


A post shared by Tom Brady (@tombrady) on

Tom Brady's derby day is May's top performing slideshow on all of Instagram, at 14.11% (his average is still a staggering 11.26%). But he's not a brand, so he doesn't count. 😚

When everyone's favorite social platform introduced carousel posts back in February, it was tough to determine how they were going to be used by brands and received by audiences. To say that this Instagram slideshow update caused a bit of a stir would be a tad of an understatement.

Not that it was a tough one to figure out, it just brought on a little confusion. Was Instagram implementing yet another functionality that seemed to derive from other platforms — in this case, mothership Facebook?

A lot of initial skepticism and rumored performance woes plagued the album-style post. There was speculation around whether or not bundling visuals into a single post would affect engagement, and then if Insta HQ was actually prioritizing them to encourage their use... Well, the dust has settled on the initial bombardment of hypotheses and we've gathered some intel on what's actually happening.

We dug into the data to excavate the top brands on Instagram who delivered the 10 best performing carousels in May. Let's look at the stats first, then break down what it all means.


Average engagement rate: 4.22%

Slideshow engagement rate: 6.77%

Image count included: 10

Average likes per post: 1,404

Likes on this slideshow: 2,289 and counting...

Surf culture is alive and well. Pride Bodyboards already has an insanely high engagement rate to begin with and this broken down wave-catching sequence is driving their followers to double-tap extensively.


Average engagement rate: 3.36%

Slideshow engagement rate: 6.46%

Image count included: 7

Average likes per post: 952

Likes on this slideshow: 1,856 and counting...

Cycling can certainly be an art, as presented so beautifully by this bike brand.


Average engagement rate: 0.88%

Slideshow engagement rate: 6.40%

Image count included: 5

Average likes per post: 6,409

Likes on this slideshow: 48,311 and counting...

The celebrity world is a treasure trove for marketing with Instagram, as proven here by Entertainment Weekly.


Average engagement rate: 2.22%

Slideshow engagement rate: 6.09%

Image count included: 4

Average likes per post: 6,986

Likes on this slideshow: 20,971 and counting...

Another entertainment industry slideshow Instagram can call a winner. The Colbert team sure knows how to translate funny from the silver screen to the iPhone screen.

It's 👏 really 👏 happening. 👏The gang's all here! @iamsambee @edhelms @rob_corddry #JonStewart #JohnOliver

A post shared by Late Show with Stephen Colbert (@colbertlateshow) on


Average engagement rate: 1.63%

Slideshow engagement rate: 5.70%

Image count included: 4

Average likes per post: 2,521

Likes on this slideshow: 5,271 and counting...

Using Instagram tools like the photo bundle to announce a real winnable bundle? We see what you did there, Pendleton, and it's pure genius.

6. @chicagofire

Average engagement rate: 5.17%

Slideshow engagement rate: 5.69%

Image count included: 4

Average likes per post: 2,304

Likes on this slideshow: 3,075 and counting...

Whoever said America wasn't into soccer was dead wrong. This Chicago club is killing it with their social content.

Prepping for #CHIvSEA with the @ESPN crew. 👀 #cf97

A post shared by Chicago Fire Soccer Club (@chicagofire) on

7. @intensecycles

Average engagement rate: 3.46%

Slideshow engagement rate: 5.60%

Image count included: 2

Average likes per post: 2,367

Likes on this slideshow: 4,014 and counting...

Another top performing Instagram slideshow, another cycling brand. Universal hobbyist appeal, for sure.


Average engagement rate: 2.46%

Slideshow engagement rate: 5.27%

Image count included: 7

Average likes per post: 13,805

Likes on this slideshow: 31,014 and counting...

The hockey season is over and while the Maple Leafs didn't make it into the finals, they went out with a bang on Insta.

Last words in the locker room. #TMLtalk

A post shared by Toronto Maple Leafs (@mapleleafs) on


Average engagement rate: 2.80%

Slideshow engagement rate: 5.13%

Image count included: 10

Average likes per post: 30,036

Likes on this slideshow: 57,040 and counting...

Team roundups be like 💯.

Swipe and take a look at Day 15 of the Offseason Workout Program.

A post shared by Oakland Raiders (@raiders) on


Average engagement rate: 5.88%

Slideshow engagement rate: 5.09%

Image count included: 5

Average likes per post: 25,232

Likes on this slideshow: 23,997 and counting...

Everyone's favorite wigged dancer is inspiring legions of young girls with her entrepreneurial chops.

Great, so what does this all mean?

  1. High performing industries.
    First of all, it's crystal clear that the sporting niche is benefiting the most from these photo albums. It's doubly interesting because we also observed this during our first slideshow compilation upon the tool's release. The Sports world's intrinsic fanaticism lends itself perfectly to clustered images, whether it's to showcase a team segment, detailed product demos, or an actual action sequence. Sometimes you just need more than one single static image.

The entertainment sector also appears to be finding success with slideshows. Perhaps in the same vein as sports, it appears that fandom really drives engagement in this case. People want to see more of what they're obsessed with, whether that's their favorite team, their treasured hobby, or the celebrities they admire.

A fashion or beauty brand will not necessarily reap the same die-hard zeal on their merch (unless maybe you're @kyliecosmetics, in the same way Maddie Ziegler's collection appeals to her fans).

The Lowdown:

This particularly presents publishers with a great opportunity to tap into this fan frenzy sentiment with their content. Going really deep with visuals on a topic that garners mucho praise from the public is a fail-proof carousel performance propeller.

  1. Number of images to include.
    When compiling the stats from our top 10 performers, there's no real consistent thread that would suggest an optimal amount of images that yields top results. They all run the gamut from 2 to 10.

The Lowdown:

Stick to what is relevant to your narrative and what you're trying to convey. Including 2 similar shots isn't going to contribute much value to your post. If what you're attempting to relay warrants 10 visuals, then that's what you should include. Once users are sliding through, they're not thinking "man I wish there would have been one shot less in this 🙄." Unless it contains 5 photos of the same thing from a slightly different angle...

  1. The 411 on engagement.
    We found both underperforming and over-performing carousels by all the brands in this top 10 list. Another really interesting observation from this research is that the above post from the @maddiestyle account performed below average for them, yet it still made it in the top 10 among all Instagram brands (we did not include individual users in this research). This proves that Maddie Ziegler's audience is insanely engaged given her exceedingly high average, and dispels the common belief that Instagram is prioritizing slideshows in user feeds.

The Lowdown:

Strong results are not a guarantee with Instagram albums. You have to put some elbow grease into including them intelligently in your strategy. While it always helps to dabble with every functionality on the platform to ensure being rewarded by the Insta sprites, your use of a tool won't warrant special in-feed treatment just because.

Gigi's 2-photo slideshow was right on average with her engagement ratio.

The bottom line is: find that balance that's right for your brand image and your audience. What works for one account might fail for another. Don't be afraid to experiment to better determine what performs best for your business, and try to get creative with these album-style posts. They're ripe for trials and for ingenuity.

Want to learn more about Instagram functionality and best practices? Get in touch today (right after you sign up for our weekly newsletter 👇).