Reels and Stories and Carousels, Oh My!

Reels and Stories and Carousels, Oh My!

Written By:

Katie Siegel

Social Media Strategist
October 1, 2023

Reels and Stories and Carousels, Oh My!

When it comes to social media, the only thing that stays the same is change. Nowhere is this more apparent than Instagram, a platform that looks unrecognizable from its humble beginnings way back in 2010…

What a time to be alive, amirite?

…if you remember when the feed looked like this, you probably have back pain now, like me! 😄

It’s come a LONG way since then, introducing video sharing in 2013, Stories in 2016, Carousels in 2017, and reaching 1 billion monthly active users in 2018, solidifying its place as one of the world’s most popular social platforms. Oh, and then they introduced a little thing called Reels in 2020. 

Tonight Show gif. Elmo from Sesame Street wobbles a bit before fainting.

If you’re a dentist or practice owner on Instagram, make no mistake – it’s a great place to be (seriously, it’s the #1 social platform for people to connect with brands) but we know it’s a lot to keep up with! Maybe you wanted to build a more personal, stronger relationship with existing patients, or maybe you wanted to target younger patients – as their largest demographic of users are between the ages of 25 - 34. 

Whatever the reason, we’re glad you’re there and we understand if you’re getting a bit confused about which type of content goes where and works best. It’s a question I’m asked a lot by clients and I don’t blame you guys. It’s a lot to stay on top of, but as the Social Media Strategist at Studio 8E8, I’m here to stay on top of it for you! 

So, I’ll start this off easy with a format you’re familiar with if you’ve ever used Instagram before…



Ahh, the bread and butter of Instagram. Not to mention what it was built on – good ol’ fashioned single image posts! While it’s not in Vogue to exclusively post single images on your feed anymore, that doesn’t mean there’s no place for them. 

Single image posts are great for simple infographics or sharable content like memes, quotes, quick tips, lists, personal/professional milestones, or patient reviews. Use visuals to help you communicate in your single image, but don’t overdo it (apps like Canva are super helpful for this). 

You can also use this type of content to encourage deeper conversations with your audience, which is great for building and establishing stronger connections with your community. The algorithm is also being much more kind to photos after prioritizing video last year. Not as kind as it is to carousels, but we’ll get to those next. 


Welcome to the more trendy and fun sibling to single image posts…the carousel post! These can contain up to 10 images in a single post that users can swipe through, which means they’re more interactive than just a single image. 

According to Hootsuite, carousels get a whopping 3.1x more engagement on average than single images, too! This can help increase your reach because the more time someone spends swiping through or interacting with your post, the more the algorithm will push it out to non-followers. Also, carousels can be shown to your followers more than once. 🙌 Initially, the first slide is shown, then (if they don’t engage) the second slide is shown when they refresh their feed.

They’re great for visual storytelling, educating, before and afters/smile makeovers, and photo dumps! Just try to have a minimum of 2-3 slides and don’t be shy to experiment with them (again, Canva works wonders for adding fun graphics and text).


The format that needs no introduction…REELS! They’re taking Instagram by storm and if you’re intimidated by them, I totally get it. Reels are a short-form video, similar to TikTok, that can be up to 90 seconds long. And right now, video is king on social media. Instagram recently rolled out much more in-depth editing tools for Reels, but don’t fret! They’re easier to record, edit, and create than ever.

Their average reach rate is 20%, and for smaller accounts (under 5,000 followers), that number jumps to nearly 40%. That’s bonkers, ya’ll! For context Carousels come in at an average of around 3.5%. Reels are also technically the most engaging type of content on Instagram. 

Okay, enough with the stats. 🤓Let’s get into the nitty-gritty. Should your Reels be entertaining? Yes. Does that mean you have to sing and dance and stay on top of every trend you see? No! By all means, if you want to gather up your team and do something trendy, go for it! If that’s not really your vibe, don’t force yourself to. 

Do what feels right for YOUR brand and don’t close yourself off from creating Reels even if you’re afraid you won’t be able to pull it off. Or if you think you won’t make it fun enough. That doesn’t really matter. What matters is being authentic, what matters is being you. 

You can still create A Day in the Life of Doctor YourName Reel, even if you don’t feel like the most charismatic person in the world. You don’t even have to show your face – you can just record clips of your day and create a voiceover later. Whatever you do, don’t overthink them and keep them short and sweet. As in, under 30 seconds. Also, Reels templates are an amazing time-saver. This in-app feature allows users to quickly copy clip timings of an existing Reel – all you have to do is select your own videos (or in some cases photos) and voilà! ✨

Don’t be scared to dip your toe into Reels. They’re very useful for growing accounts, and reaching new audiences/non-followers. I promise, once you take the leap and create one you’ll wonder why you didn’t start months ago. Remember to just be yourself and don’t worry about being perfect. Perfection is boring. 


Over half a billion people watch Stories daily. Often misunderstood and overlooked, they’re vertical full-screen photos and videos that can include music and/or interactive tools like stickers and polls that only live for 24 hours. After that, they disappear (but you can still view them and create story highlights from your archive).

Stories appear at the top of the app rather than in the news feed, meaning you’re sorta able to jump the line and catch your followers’ attention when you post one – wooo! But here’s the catch: Your stories will be pushed back if they’re not engaging, so the key here is to get your followers to engage with them. That’s why you shouldn’t just keep using stories only to share your feed posts or Reels. 

Adding polls, quizzes, or questions to your stories will do just that. It also gives you more room to be a little more raw and real, because it doesn’t live on your feed forever. Let a team member takeover Stories for a day or use it as a channel to show the REAL behind the scenes of your office. After a while you’ll get into a groove and see what your audience responds to. 

They’re a very powerful tool when it comes to building stronger relationships with your existing followers where they feel more connected to your brand. Also, it’s the ONLY place on Instagram where you can include a clickable link – so take advantage of that! 

Okay, so how do you feel now? Less confused, I hope? Ready to take on the wild and wonderful world of Instagram?

Dwight Office Tv GIF by The Office

Using a balanced mix of these formats will help you start posting more strategically and should lead to better results and more growth! Sticking to just one or posting randomly to them, on the other hand, can hinder it. 

If you’ve got more questions about Instagram for your practice or just want to chat about social media in general, I’d love to meet you!

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