If you are at all on social media these days, you are probably familiar with gifs. They strike the magic place between pictures and videos, getting the best of both and none of the downsides. Well, there is one downside: they are kind of complicated to implement if a platform doesn’t have a built-in gif creator.
If you happen to not know what a gif is, it is more or less an animated picture. There is a distinction between this and just a short video file that repeats itself, but they function just about the same. The big difference is how you put them together and what they come out looking like.
GIFs on Instagram
The Instagram app does not have a gif creator built into the software, which is a bit weird since Insta is normally on top of the game when it comes to visual content creation. That being said, you see them all over the place. Some of the most popular memes utilize gifs, and there have been a few trends that rely on gifs to work properly, such as boomerangs.
If Insta can’t support gif creation, then how do some many people upload gifs to their Instagram feeds and Instagram stories? Looking back on one of the most iconic trends — boomerangs — offers the answer. Boomerang launched as a third-party app for the iOS and Android app store as a way for people to create these kinds of gifs. So, for the most part, if you want to get a gif somewhere on your Instagram account, you have to find an outside piece of software to make or handle them.
Luckily, one of the most common platforms to create, post, and share gifs — Giphy — was acquired by Facebook. If you didn’t already know, Facebook has owned Instagram for a while. So, in a roundabout way, Instagram is sort of partnered with Giphy. Why does that matter to you? It amounts to Giphy and Instagram being super compatible.
If you are planning on being a presence on any social media platforms associated with Facebook, getting proficient with Giphy is a smart plan. Odds are, you won’t be able to find a gif processing software that will be as straightforward and robust as Giphy is going to be. Even other social network apps that are individual services such as Twitter and Snapchat pair pretty cleanly with Giphy.
It should go without saying that you’ll need to have the Instagram app and the Giphy app downloaded onto your iPhone, Android phone, or whatever mobile device you plan on doing this process from. Having the Facebook app also makes the process a bit easier, but it isn’t a necessity. You will want to have a Facebook account, at the least.
The reason you want a Facebook account is that you can log into Giphy directly with a Facebook account and make the whole process a lot easier. If you don’t have a Facebook account or don’t want one, you can create a Giphy specific account. Though that’s another account with logins to keep track of, and you have to deal with some extra verification steps. Once again, using an existing Facebook account is a much smarter move.
On a much more positive note, the Giphy app is free on all smart device app stores as well as the Google Play Store.
One of Giphy’s most impressive features is the fact that it has a self-contained archive of ready-to-use gifs and a robust search engine to help you find exactly what you need. You can search for a specific gif based on keywords, or you can just go looking for whatever kinds of gifs are trending at the time.
If you are going through this process for the first time, we recommend finding a generic but fun gif while you are learning. That gives you some room to mess up and make sure you got the process down before diving immediately into a super-specific gif post only for it to come out bad because you missed a step.
After you find the gif you want to add to your story or feed, you can bring it up and select the “Share” option. From there, you can either copy the gif onto your dashboard and paste it into places like Instagram, Snapchat, or even text messages, or you can copy the gif file directly. Both methods allow for easy uploading most anywhere you would want to, but the latter lets you do a few more things like embed gifs into a website or link them in a text file.
But you aren’t here for all that, you are here to get a gif onto Instagram.
If you haven’t already, log into Instagram and also check your mobile device settings to make sure Giphy has permission to access your camera roll. When you bring up the Share menu in Giphy, you should see the Instagram logo as one of your options. Tap the logo to “share it.” with Insta. This process does not instantly send the gif to your Instagram account. Rather, Giphy converts gifs into 15-second video files that are compatible with Insta and saves them to your phone.
Once you have done that, what you do next depends on where you want that gif to go on Instagram. For the most part, if you are familiar with Instagram, you should be able to figure out what to do from here. Just post the video file of the animated gif like you would a video on your phone. If you aren’t sure how to do this, then check out this guide — the same basic principles apply for a video as a picture from your camera roll.
This works for stories, homepage posts, or DMs. However, there are a bit more complex tricks you can do to make the gif look cleaner when you post it, and some more fun things you can do with the basic file.
If you want to leave well enough alone, you have everything you need to post gifs onto your Instagram account. However, maybe you are an aspiring Instagram influencer and want to go that extra mile that helps you stand out and stand out to potential audiences. If so, be sure to read the following bonus tricks to take your gif game that much farther.
Gifs in Your Stories
If you go through all the previous steps correctly, you’ll be able to place a gif into your Instagram story as a single frame. That is certainly fine, but there are some other cool things you can do with them.
You can use Instagram’s Create tool for stories to make the gif “full screen.” It doesn’t stretch the gif out across the whole screen, just repeats it across three tiles. Not exactly the most elegant thing, but it is sometimes better than awkward borders. Plus, creative people can think of fun ways to make the replicas work to their advantage when making story updates.
Instagram Create also lets you do a decent impersonation of a meme creation software. Between brushes, the ability to add text, and “reactions” in the form of another Story frame, you have plenty of tools to get creative and try your hand at crafting some memes.
One of the coolest things that pairing Giphy with Instagram allows you to do is create and add animated stickers to your Stories. Stickers are one of the most fun parts of Insta stories, and they have been shown to boost engagement when used correctly. By using the Sticker tray on Insta, you can upload that video file from your phone in the form of a sticker and add it to your story. This is where you can get into some crazy customization options for your Stories.
If even these aren’t enough new options for you to play with when creating your Stories, check out some of these ways to spice up your Instagram Story game. Between these and the new gif options, you’ll have no shortage of ways to create engaging and fun content. Bonus points if you figure out some cool ways to combine some of these new options into something truly crazy.
Looping Gifs in Your Instagram Feed
Since gifs tend to only be a few seconds long anyway, and Giphy always saves a gif in the form of a 15-second video, when you post a gif from Giphy on your Instagram feed, it will usually loop at least a few times. However, once that 15 seconds is up, the video comes to an end and just stops, which can look kinda sloppy and jar users that were expecting an ongoing loop.
There isn’t currently a way for users to post an infinitely looping gif image onto their Instagram feeds that doesn’t involve some annoying technical know-how that most people don’t have the time or desire to learn. However, in most cases, you don’t need a gif to be infinite on Instagram, you just need it to be long enough.
Instagram user attention is fleeting as is, and unless you give them a reason to want to stick around — say posting a gif and having a long caption attached to it — then they will usually move on after a few seconds. So, sometimes you won’t even need to post more than a 15-second gif. However, with just a little bit of extra effort, you can create gif posts that will last way longer than any reasonable Instagram user would stick around for. Here’s how you do it:
- You start mostly the same as you would when posting a singular gif. Head to Giphy, find whatever gif you plan on using for your post, open the Share menu, and select “Share to Instagram” multiple times.
- Selecting “Share to Instagram” multiple times will create multiple 15-second videos of the same gif on your phone’s camera roll. The longer you want the gif to loop for, the more instances of the gif video you’ll need. For the most part, five instances of the gif are enough to get the job done without being too much of a pain to deal with.
- Open Instagram and go to “Post to Feed.” This will bring up a little menu that you are probably familiar with. Use it to select one of the instances of the gif. Then, tap “Next,” and then “Trim.”
- A square with a plus sign should pop up on your screen, and you are going to want to click it. When you do, you’ll be able to add the other video files of the same gif onto the first one. Repeat this process for however many instances of the gif you have saved onto your phone.
- Once you have all the gif together, it should be as simple as tapping to post your new gif creation.
If all has gone well, you should be able to find your post and watch as it loops for a good long while. Like mentioned previously, since gifs naturally repeat themselves, you’re taking advantage of that over a longer period to create the illusion you are repeating the gif over and over. In reality, it’s just a long video clip that is imitating the gif.
To oversimplify what you have just gone through, you are taking a bunch of clips of the gifs and splicing them together to make a super gif, which you are then posting to Instagram. Sometimes, especially for gifs that have longer animation, you’ll find that this technique does not always perfectly repeat. This shouldn’t happen too often as most popular gifs are a second or less of animation, so you really shouldn’t worry about it being a problem. If that is something that you want to assure never happens, there, unfortunately, isn’t a great shortcut. You’ll have to either choose your gifs accordingly or find a way to trim the videos on your phone or inside Instagram’s post creation options.
Though not necessary to the process, it’s a good idea to delete all the gif videos after you are done making the post, unless you plan to use them for something in the future. It’s easy to forget to do that after you have already made your post, and you don’t want to be neglectful of cleaning these out. If you do this process often and don’t clean out your camera roll, you can quickly eat up your phone’s storage, and it will be a lot more annoying to go searching through your phone to find all the gifs to delete aftward instead of just finding them on the most recent additions to your camera roll.
For Desktop Users
This whole guide has of course operated under the assumption you will be using your phone for the whole process. Realistically, you’ll want to stick to your mobile devices because Instagram is heavily optimized for use on those platforms. But let’s say you’ll be using your desktop computer for the gif posting instead. Maybe you prefer the desktop interface or it’s more convenient at the time to use a computer.
Luckily, this is more about taking different steps than it is about taking extra steps. Rather than using apps, you’ll just be going to the Giphy and Instagram websites. So, the first thing you’ll want to do is head to Giphy. Go searching for the gif you’ll want to post, and once you have it, select the Share feature. You should see the Instagram icon, and when you click it, a little window will pop up asking for an email address.
Don’t worry, it’s just asking for a place to send the file to. Of note, you can skip this process by setting up a Giphy account and linking a default email address, but it isn’t necessary to get the job done. Go check the inbox of whatever email account you entered for a message from Giphy. Inside will be an MP4 file.
From here, you can access the email file with a mobile device and proceed as normal. However, if even that isn’t an option, you can still get the gif onto your account. Download the MP4 onto your computer directly, then go to Instagram’s desktop client and start to make a post.
You can drag-and-drop the MP4 file most of the time, assuming you have a reasonably modern computer. If not, try copy and pasting the file source into the posting interface. It might not look perfect on your end, but it should come out looking like a normal gif post.
Hypothetically, you can do all the same tricks with the gif posting as mentioned above using the desktop method. In the case of the looping gif, it might allow you to get the loop looking cleaner. Besides that advantage, it is mostly just a more clunky way to do the same result as doing it on a mobile device. If at all possible, you should be using Instagram from your smartphone or tablet.