In the two years since their introduction, Instagram Stories have helped transform this popular social media platform from a static online photo album to an ever-growing library of creative and engaging content. Inspired by then-up-and-coming Snapchat, the addition of this feature was Instagram’s attempt to boost stagnant engagement levels and attract new users to the platform, which is exactly what it did.
Earlier this year, Instagram announced that more than 40% of its one billion users were using Stories daily to share life updates with friends and followers. Known for constant innovation, the platform has introduced a series of new features this year. As far as Stories go, you can now choose popular songs to play over your stories, insert shoppable tags to boost sales, and use question stickers to increase engagement. In addition to all this, you can also add animated GIFs to your stories.
What You Need to Know About Animated GIFs on Instagram
The addition of animated GIFs to Stories was announced in January 2018. Instagram partnered with Giphy, the largest searchable database of GIF images on the internet, to bring this idea to life. For the last five years, Giphy has successfully collaborated with Instagram’s parent company Facebook, helping them bring animated images to the platform in 2013. Since then, Facebook users could search Giphy’s database for animated GIFs and post them in their statuses and comments or send them via Messenger.
Instagram’s animated GIFs are a bit different than Facebook’s, though. Rather than being posted by themselves like they are on Facebook, animated GIFs would be overlaid over other images or videos that are part of the same story. As such, the only way to integrate animated images into Stories was to do it in the form of stickers. These GIF stickers, as they are referred to, would also have to have no background so that they can blend in with other visual elements of the story without obscuring them.
For this reason, prior to launching this feature, Giphy has worked on removing backgrounds and redundant transparent elements from hundreds of thousands of popular GIFs. They have then built a separate search engine that would allow users to search only for Instagram Story-friendly GIFs instead of having to sift through the entire database just to find a compatible animated photo. The completed feature was then beta-tested in November 2017 before being rolled out to all users two months later.
Adding GIF Stickers to Your Stories
If you want to add a GIF sticker to your Instagram story, you can do so very easily. The process is pretty much the same as with any other sticker. Before you start, make sure that you have the latest version of the Instagram app installed. Only app versions 29 and above offer support for GIFs, so if you’re using an older version, you will have to update it via the App Store (iOS) or the Google Play Store (Android).
After you have downloaded the latest version of Instagram, here is what you need to do:
- Step 1: Open the Instagram app and then tap on the icon in the top-left corner or swipe right from your feed to open the camera.
- Step 2: Record a video or capture a photo for your story like you normally do.
- Step 3: Once you’ve captured the photo/video, you will see a smiley face icon in the top-right section of the screen. Tap on it to bring up the sticker menu.
- Step 4: From the sticker menu, tap on the GIF option.
- Step 5: Select one of the trending GIF images displayed in the menu or use the search bar on top of the menu to look for other animated images in Giphy’s Instagram database.
- Step 6: Once you’ve found the GIF you want to add to your story, tap on it.
- Step 7: The chosen GIF sticker will now appear in your story. Drag it to determine its position and pinch it to adjust its size.
- Step 8: Add more animated GIFs and/or any other stickers that you want.
Once you’re happy with the way everything looks, you can go ahead and publish your story.
Creating Your Own GIFs for Instagram Stories
Giphy also allows you to upload your own animated images to their database and add them to your Instagram stories. This is particularly useful for brands with a unique visual style that want to appeal to younger audiences. To do this, you may have to enlist the help of a graphic designer who will create a collection of eye-catching animated GIFs and adapt them according to Giphy’s guidelines.
To upload your animated GIFs to Giphy, you should do the following:
- Step 1: Fill out the registration form and apply for a Giphy brand account.
- Step 2: While waiting for the confirmation, complete your brand’s profile. Fill out the about section, add your website, as well as links to your social media profiles. Once done, set your profile to public so that people can find you more easily.
- Step 3: After your brand has been approved, you can start uploading your images. Make sure to use descriptive tags for each of your GIFs so that they are easier to find. Also, don’t forget to tag each image with your brand name. That way, when people search for your brand from Instagram’s GIF menu, all your animated images will appear in search results.
Using Giphy and uploading your own content to the database is completely free, whether you’re a regular user, an artist, or a brand. Giphy also gives brands access to a dashboard with detailed analytics of their GIFs’ performance. You can use the dashboard to see how popular each of your GIF images is. What’s more, after you have used an original GIF in your stories, you can measure how big of an impact your story had on its popularity and use this information to test the effect of your Instagram strategy.
The Final Word
Adding animated GIFs is a great way to make your stories more interesting and engaging. With hundreds of thousands of animated images available in Instagram’s database, there are countless opportunities to incorporate GIF stickers in a creative way and produce unique, captivating stories.
To take your digital marketing strategy to a whole new level, you can even create your own GIF stickers and use them to showcase your brand to more than 400 million daily users of Instagram Stories.