Storytelling is the trend of the moment in social media circles, and all the major platforms are working to provide more ways for users to add more context to their posts, and more creative, narrative-driven features.
Snapchat started the trend with Stories, which enables users to share multiple images and short clips from their day, a feature which Instagram has since copied (and Facebook is now rolling out in their main app also). Twitter went with Moments, which hasn't gained traction, but again, is narrative driven, providing a more complete picture on any given topic.
Adding to this, Instagram is today introducing another storytelling format, giving users the opportunity to share up to ten photos and videos in a single post, which viewers can swipe through.
The new feature was first spotted in testing earlier this month, and it mimics the carousel ad format Instagram provided for advertisers back in 2015 (they added video to carousel ads last year). The format provides another way for users to communicate more context on the platform and provide a more comprehensive overview of any given subject.
As noted by Instagram:
"With this update, you no longer have to choose the single best photo or video from an experience you want to remember. Share your favorite moments of your best friend's surprise birthday party - from setting up to when they walk through the door. Or create a step-by-step cake recipe that people can always find on your profile."
To create a multi-image post, you first need to tap the 'Select Multiple' option on the bottom of the photo or video you're uploading. From there, you can select the content you want to include - they'll be numbered in the order they'll be presented in the carousel (you can rearrange the order by holding down and dragging on screen).
Once you've selected your elements, you can edit and add filters to each image. You only get a single caption and location tag for the entire set, and any likes and comments you get will be grouped together also.
Worth noting too, only square-cropped photos are available in the new format at this stage.
Once your collection is posted, it'll be highlighted as a multi-image post by a photo stack icon in the top right of the cover image. As viewers scroll through, there'll also be a set of dots beneath the frame to indicate that there are others in the collection (the same as carousel ads).
It's an interesting addition to consider, adding to the storytelling options available. As Casey Newton from The Verge notes:
"...the carousels can feel like a more permanent version of Instagram stories - complete narratives that live on your profile for as long as you like."
For individuals, it'll provide another way to add more context without cluttering up your feed with multiple posts from the same event, while for brands, it adds another way to express an idea and add more depth.
Of course, brands, as noted, have had access to the option for some time, but the new version gives them a way to add multiple images in organic posts, as opposed to just ads, while Instagram's also upping the amount of photos and videos that can be added to a carousel (from five in its first iteration).
If you're not already using Instagram, then this probably isn't the killer feature that'll finally get you across, but for those that are, it adds another consideration to the process. Of course, you could be sacrificing impressions and reach (as you'll be uploading multiple images in one post), but the added context may also boost engagement - it'll be another element to test and experiment with.
Instagram now has over 600 million users, with 400 million active on the platform every day. In addition, 150 million people are using Instagram Stories every day, underlining the popularity of storytelling on the platform. Given this, it makes sense for brands to consider how platform use is changing, and how they can tap into the narrative trend by using the various options now at their disposal.
Instagram says multi-image posts are available as part of Instagram version 10.9, which is available for iOS and Android now, though several reports note that it may not be available for all just yet.