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When it comes to posting original or well-timed Instagram content, the sky’s the limit, and everybody has a crack at going semi-viral. But when it comes to posting GIFs, which (for better or for worse) are increasingly becoming a method of acceptable digital communication, Instagram doesn’t necessarily make this an easy process.

Knowing how to post GIFS to Instagram can be a useful skill to have when the time comes to post a Nicolas Cage reaction to your friend’s 978th photo of avocado toast. Or if you’re a marketing professional managing social media accounts, knowing how to upload spot-on reaction GIFs can be one more tool for engaging with your audience. 

Nicolas Cage Wow GIF by IMDb - Find & Share on GIPHY

But where to begin?

Whether your goal is to create a looping GIF to use as a video post in your Newsfeed or as custom stickers to add in your Instagram Story, we’ll go over how to make the most of posting GIFs without putting a dent in your Instagram game. 

The GIPHY App is Your New Instagram Best Friend

Though it started as a search engine to better navigate the vast world of GIFs, GIPHY has expanded to become an all-in-one service for posting, sharing, and embedding GIFs. Not surprisingly, our journey to Instagram GIF superpowers begins with GIPHY, so before you do anything else, go download the GIPHY app (iPhone/Android) so we can get started.

How to Create a GIF and Post it to Instagram

Using the GIPHY app, creating and uploading a GIF is fairly easy and straightforward.

To create a brand-new GIF using your smartphone camera, use the “+” to access the GIPHY GIFMaker and follow these instructions:

  1. Use the “O” camera shutter icon by holding it down to capture your GIF subject. You must hold the icon down; simply tapping it will only take a single-frame picture. Filters can be added, depending on how much flair you’re feeling.
  2. Once your video has been recorded via the GIFMaker, GIPHY will automatically convert this into a looping GIF file. Then you can further customize it with captions, effects, stickers, and other decorative items. You can also use a trim tool to remove imperfections from the recording.
  3. Once your GIF is created, you can add tags separated by commas (no # symbols needed here) and decide if you want it to be Public or Private to other GIPHY viewers. Then, tap Upload to GIPHY!

For creating GIFs using existing videos on your phone, use the “+” to access the GIPHY GIFMaker and follow these instructions:

  1. Tap the pictures icon to the right of the “O” camera shutter icon to locate a media file on your camera roll.
  2. Once selected, GIPHY will automatically convert this into a looping GIF file, where you can further customize it with captions, effects, stickers, and other decorative items. You can also use a trim tool to remove imperfections from the recording.
  3. Once your GIF is created, you can add tags separated by commas (no # symbols needed here) and decide if you want it to be Public or Private to other GIPHY viewers. Then, tap Upload to GIPHY!

Tips for Effective GIF Tagging:

Your tags should be descriptive of what’s happening in your GIF or written to capture an emotion. The more descriptive you are (e.g. “freak out”, “big smile”, or “red hot”), the better the chance that your GIF will show up in the GIPHY search engine. If you want to keep it private and are only using GIPHY to create a GIF to upload to Instagram, you can ignore tagging altogether. 

If You Want to Post Existing GIFS (like a Nic Cage clip) from GIPHY on Instagram

Go ahead and search for one within the GIPHY search bar.

Once you find the reaction GIF you want, tap the airplane icon below it to open the sharing options, then tap on the Instagram logo. This will launch the Instagram app from your phone and send the GIF as a video file, assuming you have the Instagram app installed on your device. 

Once inside of Instagram, you now have two choices for posting your GIF: as a Story or as a post on your Feed. In both cases, Instagram treats your GIF as a video file, meaning you can edit the appearance or trim the length just as you would a natively-uploaded video from your camera roll. 

Once you’ve settled on a filter and length for your media, posting is as simple as sharing like you normally would—either publicly to all of your followers or privately to a set group of friends in a private message. 

If You Want to Quickly Post an Existing GIF Directly to an Instagram Story:

When creating a new Instagram Story, slide over to the ‘Create’ option and select the “GIF” option. This will bring up a search box that will immediately place a GIF into your Instagram Story without customization options…like a Nicolas Cage reaction GIF. 

How to Create Custom Instagram Story Stickers Using GIFS

If you’re a brand or artist and want to make GIF “stickers” available for others to use in their Instagram Stories to amplify your brand, you can! 

First, you’ll need to set up a GIPHY account and establish yourself as either an individual artist or as a brand/company. This will go through a verification process for GIPHY to assist the public in knowing if an account of public interest is authentic. 

From here, GIPHY will ask you for a little bit more information to establish that you’re a legit entity before giving you a verified account status, including a bio, image, and social media network accounts. This information will then be further vetted by the GIPHY team. 

Once verified by GIPHY as a Brand or an Artist, you can begin using your account to upload GIFs, which you can tag for users to find via the search engine. However, in order to ensure that your GIFs will appear as Stickers in Instagram Stories, they must meet content guidelines, including rules regarding transparent backgrounds and non-offensive material. Once uploaded, these can be sourced via the sticker search engine in Instagram Stories using tags you placed on your content during the uploading process.

For more information on creating GIFs, be sure to check out our guide on creating High-Quality GIFs.