Okay WELL I have had such an amazing response to the custom gif stickers I made to use on Instagram and Snapchat stories and even more questions about HOW, so I decided to explain myself in a blog post!
There are so many ways you can get creative with Instagram and Snapchat stories, and the animated gif sticker feature on both apps is really a fun way to add some pizazz to your content. I have been a big fan of adding gifs to my stories and when I found out that you could create your own, my wheels started to turn. For someone like me who teaches an online course on personal branding, why wouldn't I create my own branded gifs to add some flair to my own stories?! I've known how to make gifs since high school when making them for your Myspace profiles was popular (honestly so many of my creative life skills I have now like graphic design, photo editing, and coding have stemmed from Myspace, no lie) and I continue to make them for Manship Theatre, who I have been doing graphic design work for over the past few years.
Making gifs is nothing new, groundbreaking or hard- but they're sooo effective. Usually you can make something super simple but having it flash colors or orientation will be just enough of a movement to catch your eye and spice up your content. I typically design mine first in Adobe Illustrator and make the frame animation in Photoshop- I'm linking a tutorial on how to do so here and in a video below.
So once you make your gifs, you need to apply for an artist or brand profile on Giphy. I applied to be an artist because I didn't know how big of a brand you had to be to get approved. It took me a few days to get approved and I had to send proof to them that I was in fact the original creator of the files. Once approved, all of the gifs I uploaded became public and shareable across all platforms like Instagram stories, Snapchat, and even the Giphy integration in iOS texting on iPhone. You can still make an account on Giphy to upload gifs (been doing that for a while for different social media purposes) but unless you are a verified artist or brand by the platform, those gifs will not show up as stickers on the public apps.
Once your channel is approved, you can beef up your profile and see all of your gifs in one place with a link to your page. You can even see stats for your gifs, and I've been shocked with how many views mine have had already from only being up for a day!
UPDATE AS OF FALL 2018:
You can ONLY upload gifs to your verified Giphy channel that are FOR YOUR OWN BRAND. I was making them for other brands and uploading them to my channel and received a scary email from Giphy about it- they ended up shutting down my account for almost a week until I was able to delete all of those gifs and beg them to re-instate my account. If you’re interested in having someone make gifs for you or your brand that’s fine, but you still need to apply and get approved for your own Giphy page. You’ve been forewarned!
When you make your gifs, be sure to tag them with keywords! I tagged all of mine with descriptive keywords but most importantly my name- because people who know me know they can just type in my name and they will all come up.
A HUGE BONUS that made this a huge marketing tactic for me is when I announced that they were live, I got tagged in dozens of different IG stories because everyone was so excited, which increased my profile exposure to a TON of people! This resulted in me just re-sharing their stories to my story and it was like a vicious cycle of user generated content.
So now the question is... what type of gifs should you make!? Well, anything that can be used by others. I originally was excited to make gifs that furthered my branding awareness and cohesion in my own Instagram stories...however, chances are you won't get approved as a brand or artist if you aren't making content that everyone else can use too. Some of the top gifs I wanted to make were "Link in Bio", "New Post", "On the Blog", and of course, "Do What You Want" because those are the main things I am using in my stories myself but also because they are generic stickers I knew other people would use.
One of my "Link in Bio" gifs is actually on the trending home page of Instagram stories today, which means a ton of people have been using it! Which is SO COOL!
I'm a little bummed that my gifs look somewhat pixelated on the Instagram app, but when I used them on Snapchat they looked fine. I exported them as Gif 128 Dithered at 600px max wide, but I am going to have to play with those settings because I'm not completely satisfied with how they look. When I asked Giphy about their suggested export settings, this is what they sent back:
Unfortunately GIF format only allow pixels to be either fully transparent, or fully opaque, which can create some problems when exporting your stickers.
We're hoping to integrate APNG files in future to avoid this, but for now there are a few things you can do to try and mitigate this issue.
1. Defringing the layers (Layer - Matting - Defringe). This is a little tedious since it's frame by frame, but can help a lot.
2. Make sure there are no semi-transparent pixels lingering around the edges of your sticker.
3. If working in Photoshop - Save for Web Legacy and set the Matte setting to None. This way it won't default to white edges, and will leave a more natural edge. It helps reduce the 'halo' effect.
4. If your sticker has a black outline set the Matte to black.
5. For things that need to be semi-transparent (spray paint, or sparkles etc) turn ON diffusion transparency and adjust the % amount as you see fit.
6. Focus on the largest resolution with the fewest amount of frames (obviously this depends on your animation style)
Re: blurriness, this has to do with the rendition of the content Instagram is pulling into the app. They are aware that this doesn't always pull the highest quality image and are working on it on their end.
ALSO I should note- you need to make a gif STICKER if that's what you want Giphy to pull for the IG stories and Snapchat stories features. By sticker, I mean just a gif with a transparent background. Giphy will automatically identify it as having a transparent background and put it in the sticker category.
Soo... are you going to go out and make gifs now?! I'm really excited to play with this feature and am hoping to keep adding to my gif library often. For now to use any of mine, just search "Jordan Hefler" in the gif search bar!
If you liked this post, you might like 3 Apps to Spice Up Your Instagram Stories!