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Social Media Storytelling: GIF It All You Got

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Storytelling is having a moment. From Fortune 500 companies creating the role of Storyteller-in-Chief to endless LinkedIn posts about how to reach more clients by “Telling your brand’s story,” the art of creating engaging narratives has become the buzzword du jour. Really, storytelling has been here all along. But with social media’s quick evolution, the landscape for storytelling has never been bigger. It’s exciting and intimidating at the same time. 

With the variety of platforms available, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. But never fear! We created a handy guide on how to navigate social media and storytelling.


On Instagram it’s all about the visual; and pressure to get community validation and support is ever-present due to dependence on likes and followers. With 400 million daily users and 22.2% of Millennials preferring it’s use over other platforms, Instagram is a prime application for influencers, businesses, and anyone looking to turn some heads.

Instagram got smart about a year ago and copied a feature that was exclusive to Snapchat at the time: stories. Stories are platforms where users can post pictures and videos for a broad audience—no liking or following necessary. On Instagram, the only interactive features available are for the user to see if someone has seen their story, or for viewers to interact with the user via a direct message.

Let’s start with the basics: How do you post something to your story? Open the Instagram application, and press the camera button.  

After you take a photo, you can either add it to your story, save it, or delete it. If you’re satisfied with the shot, but want to add something more, you can. To tag someone else in your photo, type the @ button and enter the username you’d like tagged. After you post, the user will be notified. 

Swiping left or right will add a filter to your photo, and swiping up or pressing the white emoji face in the top right corner will give you access additional things like hashtags, locations, polls, and stickers.

However, by adding something to a location, you make it public for everyone in that location and beyond to view. This feature should only be used for things that you want broadcast to the public at large.  

Our story how-to wouldn't be complete without discussing selfies. Like Snapchat, Instagram offers face filters. To use this feature, flip your camera, and hold down on the screen to be presented with filters. Select the one you want, pose, and snap; there’s your face filter selfie. 

However, say you took a photo earlier that day that you’d prefer to use; you can post that on your Instagram story too. When you enter the story camera, swiping up will give you access to photos you’ve taken that day. Once you see the photo you want, select it, and you’ll see the same screen as if you had taken it with the application. 

Although the options for photos are great in Instagram stories, there are also opportunities for video as well. By holding down the bottom center button, you can record video for up to 15 seconds. Boomerang, another video option, creates a gif like loop of an action to be played back. 


Snapchat is the original creator of the social media story, and has a much simpler interface. Snapchat has 150 million daily users, and is preferred by 15.8% of Millennials for communication. Although the audience is smaller than Instagram, if you have a have any sort of following on the application, it’s worth the time to learn and engage with your audience.

Snapchat can be thought of as Instagram’s younger, more fun and random cousin. The application is primarily used by younger Millennials, with users under 25 using the application 20 times a day for at least 30 minutes. If your target is the up and coming generation, this is the application to master.

Snapchat began with an interface for direct messaging, or sending snaps from user to user. The story feature is more recent, and has undergone a much more dramatic transformation, and that is where we will spend our time.

Similar to Instagram, when you tap the white knob at the bottom center of the screen, it takes a photo. After you take your photo, you click the blue arrow to either post it to your story, or send it to your friends, or both. 

Recording videos on Snapchat is a little more fun because you have more options; like the ability to slow motion, speed up, or reverse your footage. Simply swipe left or right after you record your footage to edit it. 

Similar to Instagram, you can also add locations, but it’s done through filters on the edges of the screen that you get to by swiping left or right. However, by tagging these locations, your posts will be viewable by everyone in the surrounding area, similar to Instagram’s location feature. 

Something unique about Snapchat is a partnership they have with a company called Bitmoji. Bitmoji enables users to create cartoon versions of themselves, and Snapchat enhanced this feature with personalized stickers, filters, and 3D animations of their cartoons. 

These features are fun for personalizing your stories, and if you are snapchatting one person in particular, your Bitmojis can even interact. This is a fun way to show personality and relationship in the things that you post. 

And last but certainly not least, is a feature Instagram has not gone all the way with but Snapchat has fully embraced: the ability to insert URLs into a post. Only verified users on Instagram are able to insert hyperlinks into their posts, but on Snapchat, it’s every man’s game.

To do so, after taking a photo or video, click on the paperclip directly over the timer. There, you will be directed to a bar where you can enter your link, check it for accuracy, and then attach it to your snap. This is an easy way to send out information and give the receiver the option to continue the interaction  or not.

By utilizing these features, you’re sure to create engaging stories that your audiences are happy to work with and watch.

To Wrap It Up

Stories are fun, and I’ve used each of these features to create engaging and entertaining posts for my friends, family, and strangers. I hope my guide helps you navigate these complicated applications with ease!

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