How to Create Your Own GIFs for Instagram Stories
If you’ve spent much time on Instagram, you’ve probably seen the cool customized and branded Instagram Story GIFs used to promote special events, giveaways, competitions, and more.
Like with most good animations, they are not only a little bit of fun. They can also help to capture attention and draw more pairs of eyes to posts, helping you expand reach and engagement.
For posts that hope to spark reader engagement or action, GIFs can make a call to action stand out. This makes it more likely that the user will take the action – whether that’s join up, click here, shop now, find out more, or whatever.
Some brands use stock GIFs from a library but, increasingly, then most successful ecommerce brands are creating their own.
But how do you create these eye-catching GIFs for your own Instagram Stories?
It’s not so difficult when you have the right tools – and all you need is a couple of apps and a smartphone.
The following four simple steps will get you up and running…
Become a “verified brand” on Giphy
Giphy is responsible for overseeing Instagram’s GIF library so it’s best to get comfortable with this app if you want to use GIFS on your Instagram Stories.
The first step is to create a Giphy brand channel and apply to get it verified. Unfortunately, getting approved is not automatic. Some brands get knocked back but these are most likely to be:
- Very small businesses
- Artists who attempt to upload commercial work for brands
You’ll just need to go through a few basic steps, apply for a review and you should be fine.
First, to apply for a brand channel with Giphy, type the Giphy URL into your browser:
Click on Log In and select Join Giphy to be taken to this page:
Enter your details as requested (email, username, password). You will also need to submit information about your business when prompted.
It’s best to apply for an “artist channel” to make your GIFs searchable on Instagram and Giphy so other users can use them as well.
After you hit “Apply Now”, you’ll see a page confirming that Giphy has received your application and will be in touch. You will also get an email confirmation of the same.
You’ll need to wait for the approval process to do its stuff. In the meantime, start completing your profile. Set your account to public so that your brand is searchable and they can see your name, website, “about” details, and links to social profiles.
You can also start getting familiar with the analytics dashboard that will be your “control centre” once your brand is approved.
The stats on the dashboard can show you the impact that your GIFs are having on post engagement, so that you can tweak your Instagram Stories strategy accordingly.
Create your custom GIFs
It’s quite easy to create your own custom GIFs for Instagram Stories. All you need is a smartphone, an app, and some very basic graphic design skills.
This app is the best available because of its ease of use and it provides free graphics. Importantly, it also allows you to create your GIFs in the right format for use in Instagram Stories (with a transparent background – see the next step).
As you might be familiar with in graphic design, Over allows you to work in layers and choose custom colors.
After you open the app, start creating your graphic by following these steps:
- Click the “+” for creating and choose a transparent background
- Go into graphics and search for an image you want to use
- Change its color if you want
- Make the graphic as big as possible (Giphy will reduce the quality)
- Work backward – save the end product first
- Export it as “png”
- Take the layers you’ve created in the Over app to gifmaker.me to make the GIF
- Upload the images and click “Create GIF Animation”
- Download the GIF
You can copy and paste from your camera roll into Instagram but using Giphy is preferable…
Upload your stickers to Giphy
Once you’ve been verified with Giphy, you can upload GIFs that can be used publicly.
Bear in mind that regular GIFS will not cut it on Instagram Stories. You will need to upload your artwork as animated GIF stickers i.e., GIFs laid on a transparent background or layer.
A GIF becomes a GIF sticker by simply turning off the background layer of your canvas in your image editing program. Then export it like that.
Giphy offers this advice on creating eye-catching stickers:
“A good sticker is simple, eye-catching, and fun. Because [they’re] shared at a fairly small size, it’s important to keep them visually sharp and well defined.”
Here’s what Giphy advises about the technical side of creating GIF stickers intended for upload to Instagram:
- Upload stickers as GIF files (not APNG files)
- Stickers must be exported with at least 20 percent transparent pixels (no white or opaque color backgrounds)
- 500-600px in size with an even-numbered height and width
- No maximum file size: their server will automatically resize the sticker on upload
- RGB color mode is mandatory
- Set to loop “forever” upon exporting
Follow these guidelines and you’ll be good to go but you probably won’t be a world-beater at first. It may take a little time and practice to get your GIFs looking how you want.
As you develop your sticker strategy on Instagram Stories, consider how you want your followers to be able to use them. Do you have a band of loyal followers who regularly tag you in user-generated content?
If so, you will want to allow the use of your stickers in their posts – the more engaging their posts are the better it is for your brand.
So, bear in mind what will encourage others to use your GIFs when you start designing them. A little humor? Fancy designs? What will work best for your followers?
Powerful emotions like love, anger, and happiness typically work well in driving shares and engagement. Oh, and animals are always popular…
Make sure that you tag your GIFS with 5-10 keywords (and include your brand name in each tag) so that they show up in GIF searches on Instagram Stories.
Test your stickers on Instagram Stories
If someone searches for your brand on Giphy, your uploaded GIFs should show up if you have set your profile to public and tagged them correctly using your brand name.
It might take a few days for the uploads to appear in search – it won’t be instant but they should appear soon.
Make sure that your stickers actually work when included in posts. Test them out on an Instagram Stories posts by taking a video, tapping the sticker button and selecting the GIF you want to test.
Also, make sure that your stickers are searchable and findable. Type in one or more of the tags you have used on your stickers and see what appears.
Providing everything goes according to plan, you’re good to go with creating and sharing as many GIFs as you like.
You might also like to announce to your followers (via an Instagram Story) that you have been busy creating GIFs that they are welcome to use in their own stories. This should encourage some followers to go check out your work.
Free engagement on Instagram with stories GIFs
Social media has levelled the marketing playing field in so many ways, allowing smaller brands to punch above their weight and compete with larger brands in their field.
Creating and uploading your own animated stickers for Instagram Stories is one small way that you can use the tools at your disposal to enhance your social media marketing. It’s completely free and there’s nothing to lose.
Why not start adding a little more engagement to your Instagram Stories next time you have a live event, promotion or other occasion to make a splash with.
Who knows? You might go viral…