9 Best Instagram Tools for Visual Storytelling

If you're looking for the best Instagram Tools for Visual Storytelling then you're in the right place. In this post, I share 9 of the Instagram Tools I am using right now to create amazing visuals that get noticed. Get ready to create engaging images, videos, stop motion and more!

9 Best Instagram Tools for Visual Storytelling
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Image by Cressido Studio, Shutterstock

BY DONNA MORITZ | 1 April, 2019 | Contains Affiliate Links

Posts on this blog may contain affiliate links, which means we receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase through a link. 

Recently, I shared some of my top Instagram Tools for Visual Storytelling at Social Media Marketing World in San Diego (#SMMW19 if you've been following along at home) in a packed room of 800+ people. I always try to share new or updated tools that few people have tried yet. I got such great feedback about the Instagram tools I shared in my session this year, that I'm featuring them in this post.

I know you will love using these tools for creating great visuals for your business. Each of these tools is fabulous for non-designers, most are free to get started, and all of them are easy to use!

Ready? Let's jump in!

9 Instagram Tools for Visual Storytelling to add to your Toolkit

1. In- Instagram Tools

There's one thing I'd like to say before jumping into all the 3rd party Instagram tools I am going to show you – don't neglect Instagram's own “In-Instagram Tools”. There's nothing more powerful than the combination of your smartphone + Instagram. It's a visual content creation machine!

Why? Because Instagram is jam-packed with tools! There are literally dozens of ways to create, design, illustrate, record and embellish your content so that it catches attention – on the Instagram feed and in Instagram Stories.

In fact I'd go so far as to call it a Tardis! Just like Dr Who's Tardis, there's much more inside Instagram's toolbox than you would expect… once you step inside. Here's just a few of the Instagram Tools you'll find:

Tools within Instagram
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Don't forget all the awesome In-Instagram Tools for creating visuals!

As you can see, you can use Drawing tools, Boomerang, Hyperlapse, Stickers (from Polls and Question Stickers to Emoji Stickers, Countdown Timers, and Geolocation Stickers), GIFs, video snippets and more. You can literally create amazing visual stories using Instagram tools alone.

But of course, I am going to share more external tools with you in this post that you can use with Instagram to create amazing visuals. Here they are:

2. Headliner

Headliner is an awesome tool that allows you to convert any audio file to video. Here's a snapshot of just some of the video types you can create with Headliner:

Headliner App Home Page
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  1. Video Transcript – This allows you to upload a video to automatically transcribe its audio, adding in customizable captions.
  2. Audiogram Wizard – You can create audiograms up to 10 minutes long from one clip of audio.
  3. Full Episode of Video – Make one full video from a longer episode of audio (max 2 hrs) – then share it on YouTube!
  4. Find my Content – this allows you to pre-fill a video with images & videos that are pulled from your news, entertainment, or sports audio.

As you can see, there are loads of options which is why this is one of my favourite Instagram Tools! Headliner works by automatically transcribing your media, identifying the keywords that are important, finding the corresponding images and auto-cropping, among other things.

Here's a video showing you how it works:

It's easy to create Audiograms with Headliner!

Creating an audiogram is easy. Here's an example of one that I created by adding an MP3 file, uploading a background image and then using the color picker to match the color of the audiogram to my image:

How to add a background image and match colors on Audiograms in Headliner
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If you're someone who doesn't love being on camera or maybe isn't a fan of video editing or not technically minded – Headliner gives you a great option to create video without having to do a lot of work. It's super easy to repurpose your audio content into video with Headliner, and well worth adding to your kit of Instagram Tools.

And the best news is that you can create up to 10 videos (without a watermark!) on the free plan every month. So it's easy to get started with Headliner!

3. Easil

I’ve been using Easil for almost 3 years now and I’ve written about why I love Easil here.

Easil Home Page - DIY Design Tool
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Easil is my go-to tool for creating visuals!

Some of the features I love are:

The editing tools – you can easily find the tool you need by clicking on a text box or image and the Action Bar will pop up with the tools you need. It’s intuitive and fun!

The templates – you get thousands of pro-quality templates in just about every social media and print size you need. To be quite honest this is what first alerted me to Easil. I was sick of the template options out there and these really caught my eye on social media!

I really like Easil's Instagram Stories Templates which is why I've added it to this list of Instagram tools. Here's an example:

Instagram Story Templates in Easil - 9 Best Instagram Tools for Visual Storytelling
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Easil's templates rock.

And in particular the way you can design with multiple-page Instagram Story Templates, like this one:

Multipage Instagram Story Templates in Easil -  9 Best Instagram Tools for Visual Storytelling
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Create multi-page Instagram Stories in Easil in a snap!

The text effect tools – great for taking your designs to the next level. You can add images in text (text masking) drop shadow, glow effects and more.

The GIF maker – I use this tool all the time to create GIFs by animating images and icons, not just text.

All the other things – you can merge designs, use folders for awesome organisation, grab colors using their Color Palette Generator and even use layers (oh yes, it's like Photoshop and Canva had a baby) but here's why I really love Easil now:

Easil has Awesome New Features for DIY Design in Teams

Here's what they have just released, and it's game-changing for teams (big or small!):

Brand Kit – You can now upload your Brand Fonts, Colors and Logos as well as Brand Images. Most other tools only allow you to add the first three (fonts, colors and logos) but Brand Images is super helpful if you have brand imagery that is approved for your wider team. From photos to illustrations to icons… it's one of my favourite features of Easil. Here's an example of my Socially Sorted Brand Kit like in Easil:

Brand Kit in Easil - 9 Best Instagram Tools for Visual Storytelling
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Socially Sorted Brand Kit in Easil

And here's an example of a Brand Kit for a Cafe in Easil:

Easil's Brand Kit
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Add your brand colors, fonts, logos and even images for your brand.

Adding your brand fonts is easy – just click a text box and you'll see your font options pop up in the action bar. Choose your body or copy fonts (and more) from the drop-down menu:

Choosing Brand Fonts in Easil
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Choose from Easil's huge library of fonts or upload your own Brand Kit Fonts.

It's just as easy to add brand colors straight from your color palette. Choose from template colors, brand colors or image colors:

Choosing Brand Colors in Easil - 9 Best Instagram Tools for Visual Storytelling
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Choose from Template Colors, Brand Kit Colors or Image Colors.

Did you notice in the example above, that Easil will pull in colors from your images? This uses a fun tool called the Color Palette Generator. This is one of my favorite features, coupled with the Brand Kit colors.

And you can add your brand logos in a snap too, like this:

Adding Brand Logo in Easil - 9 Best Instagram Tools for Visual Storytelling
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Adding brand logos is now easy in Easil:

and your brand images like this:

Adding Brand Images in Easil
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Or add your brand images straight from the dashboard into designs.

Brand Locking and Restrictions – if you're not excited yet, you're about to be! You can now “load and lock” your designs in Easil. This means that your designer or brand manager can create a design in Easil, and then lock down which elements of your design can be edited and by which team members. You can lock everything from layers to elements to fonts, text, images and more. It's granular and easy to use – all you need to do is toggle features on and off.

Here's how Brand Restrictions looks in Easil, as you toggle on or off permissions for team users:

Brand Locking and Brand Restrictions in Easil - 9 Best Instagram Tools for Visual Storytelling
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Lock down your designs for team editing with the flick of a toggle!

It's great for designers who can protect their designs and save them as templates. It's also awesome for non-designers who can't mess up templates and don't have to “think” about which elements to change. It's all built into the team templates!

Brand Templates– You can easily convert your designs to templates for your whole team with layers and locking to control how they are going to be used by everyone in that team.

Converting designs to templates in Easil - 9 Best Instagram Tools for Visual Storytelling
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Easily convert your design to a template in Easil for your team to access.

You can create multiple templates and have them all available for your team to access in your template library:

Custom Team Templates in Easil - 9 Best Instagram Tools for Visual Storytelling
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Team Functionality – of course with all of this comes the ability to add team members with different levels of permission and access. The brand kit, brand restrictions and team features coupled with Easil's existing features means that Easil has really taken DIY design to the next level and I'm loving it.

Think of it like a complete digital asset management system – perfect for small to massive companies wanting to organise DIY design so that the whole team can access, edit and share designs … without messing up brand integrity, trademarks, logos. It's all in the one place!

4. Giphy

Giphy is your BFF for non-designers and one of the most frequently used Instagram Tools – even if you don't realise it!

Every day millions of people share entertaining looping videos via Giphy through integrations with sites like Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram. On Instagram Stories we can share stickers and that’s where the fun really starts!

There are 3 ways you can share GIFs using Giphy. You can:

Create your own GIFs – you can create GIFs for use in emails, web pages and social media (for comments, replies, messaging and social media posts). Start a Regular Giphy Channel here to upload your GIFs and enable anyone to share your GIFs using a link (or embed GIFs into websites. Here is an example of a GIF I made using Easil's GIF Maker. I just use a link from my Giphy account and I can share it here via a link generated on my Giphy account:

Anyone can add their GIFs to a Giphy Account. It's free to start your account and makes it much easier to store, access and share your GIfs.

Share GIFs from others – you can easily share GIFs from other creators, straight from Giphy. You have millions of choices via Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook. Hands down, one of my favourite functions is to share sticker GIFs in Instagram Stories:

Sharing GIFs to Instagram Stories - 9 Best Instagram Tools for Visual Storytelling
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Share GIF STickers in Instagram Stories.

Simply search and choose from a huge number of GIFs on just about every topic. GIFs add personality to your Instagram Stories:

Sharing GIFs to Instagram Stories from Giphy
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Get creative with GIFs on Instagram Stories!

Create a Giphy Branded Channel – this is the ultimate level of Giphy use if are able to swing it. If you can get your Giphy Channel approved as a brand, artist or company “branded channel” it affords you more reach and opportunity. Smart brands have branded Giphy channels with stickers for their audience to use to express themselves. When NASA and GE have a Branded GIF Channel you have to take notice. Check out some of these:

  1. Dry Bar – they have fun stickers for those that want to share fun stories after a blow dry!
  2. Target – Target fans are super fans. They want to talk about how much they love Target. Target helps with this by giving them fun stickers to use in their stories. Everything from “trip-o-meters” to share how many trips to target this week to fun “love” stickers to express their target love. Check out their account!
  3. Jameson Irish Whiskey – these guys are clever and take their GIFs to the next level, pairing them with hashtags that their community love to use like #lovethyneighbor and #lovethybar.

Think not just about ROI and how many GIF views you get (although you will get a LOT with a branded channel) – my own Socially Sorted branded channel has over 15 million views and counting. Think instead about how you can give your audience tools to express themselves. That's how you help them to love your brand. You're giving them a sense of belonging and community – and the tools to express it!

Want to apply for a Giphy Branded Channel? I talk about it more (and another hot Instagram Stories tip) in this post.

5. Wave.Video

I've talked about Wave.Video a lot on my blog as it's my main video tool and I am a brand ambassador for their company because I love it so much! But their recent updates are the thing I am most excited about. And it's the perfect addition to this list of Instagram Tools as Wave lets you edit many different videos for Instagram, including Instagram Stories and IGTV.

Wave Video Editor - 9 Best Instagram Tools for Visual Storytelling
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This tool has had a huge overhaul and the editor is even better, not the least of which are features like:

  • hundreds of thousands of awesome video stock footage, photo stock images and audio clips (including free content, included paid content as well as the option to purchase premium content)
  • an intuitive editor that will “pop-up” with what you need depending on whether you are editing text or video.
  • a huge selection of text editing tools like color, brand colors, fonts, transitions, animations and more.
  • awesome video editing tools as well as the ability to easily resize to more than 30 video formats. Here's an example of a video being designed for the Instagram feed:
Creating a video in Wave video editor - 9 Best Instagram Tools for Visual Storytelling
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Edit your video size in one click to go from Instagram Feed to Instagram Stories

As you can see, with one click you can go from a square Instagram feed image to an Instagram Stories size – with minimal editing required. This is why Wave is one of my favourite Instagram Tools!

Converting from square to portrait videos in a click with Wave - 9 Best Instagram Tools for Visual Storytelling
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Video resizing works well, with minimal editing required.
  • You can add filters, stickers, transitions, and more. Add Wave's stickers or search via Giphy to choose from millions of stickers! For example, I can add a margarita sticker to my Taco video:
Adding a sticker in Wave Video Editor - 9 Best Instagram Tools for Visual Storytelling
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Add stickers to your videos before loading them to Instagram!
  • Moveable text – you're not restricted to how you add text to videos. You can lock into place, group it and move it around OR freestyle your text and place it in any position at any angle. This is a feature I have not been able to get in other DIY video tools and it makes me very excited!
Moveable text in Wave video editor - 9 Best Instagram Tools for Visual Storytelling
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Wave Video also has hundreds of easily editable templates that allow you to create video easily and quickly without any design skills. Choose from categories like business, travel/holidays, real-estate, sports, wellness and more:

Wave Video editor templates
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Choose from hundreds of video templates!

Another thing I am loving about Wave is their awesome content calendar that allows you to find ideas for videos for each day of the year, including video templates, hashtags, and content ideas:

Wave Content Calendar for video
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Wave's content calendar makes video content easy!

I'll be doing a full recap on video of Wave's new features but for now, you can check out a lot of the features on my recent YouTube review here.

You can get started with a FREE account here. Wave is one of the only tools I know to offer free video creation without a watermark. But their starter plans are super affordable too, starting at $9 per month. Even agency plans are now very affordable after their recent pricing changes. It's a perfect addition to your Instagram Tools toolkit!

6. LifeLapse

LifeLapse is a very cool mobile app for creating stop motion videos. If you've been on Instagram lately you'll know that stop motion videos are super popular. So I wanted to include this fun app in our list of Instagram Tools.

I've played with a lot of stop motion apps before and many of them are difficult to use and result in less than perfect videos… but I love that this app has some handy tools for helping you timelapse like a PRO.

Here's a video showing how it works. We need a visual of the awesomeness:

And if you want a more detailed overview of how the app works, check out this full tutorial for creating a fun Pineapple cocktail GIF. I watched the whole thing… it's quite addictive! Be sure to check out the app on your phone on iOS or Android

I'm still playing with this app but I am loving LifeLapse so far and I know you will too!

7. Slider

I was an early user of the tool WordSwag and I remember presenting it to 400 or so people at Social Media Marketing World back in 2014 to gasps from the audience. We could do WHAT with text on our phones?

It was an exciting new feature to be able to create awesome text posts with a few clicks and was the start of many great text-based graphic apps. WordSwag just released a new app for animated images! So I had to add it to my list of Instagram Tools.

Here's a snapshot of Slider:

Slider from Wordswag - mobile phone app
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Create animations quickly and easily with Slider!

Slider is similar to WordSwag but allows you to take your text posts to another level with animations. They have a decent selection of animations to choose from and for the non-designer this is another addition to our Instagram Tools list that I think you will love.

Here are a few more features:

Slider from Wordswag - 9 Best Instagram Tools for Visual Storytelling
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8. Over

Over has to be listed here with these Instagram Tools. As far as I am concerned I think that Over is the best app for designing on a phone. Hands-down. No competition. Don't get me wrong, a lot of desktop tools that I know and love and use have mobile phone apps but none of them come close to Over.

Over for Mobile Phone - 9 Best Instagram Tools for Visual Storytelling
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Why? Because Over was designed for designing on mobile. And they stay in their own lane. They perfect and master and improve the experience of designing on mobile – and they back it up with awesome designers and templates.

Over offers free and paid plans. Their Free Plan is awesome for getting started. My advice? Start with Free and if you are someone who loves to create on mobile you'll possibly fall head over heels with Over and upgrade.

Oh, and did I mention that they have added video, which is an awesome feature! Many templates can be published in video format.

Over visual content app - 9 Best Instagram Tools for Visual Storytelling
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It's the same price as Canva and more expensive than Easil. They opted to stop doing in-app purchases, so now it's a monthly subscription paid annually at about $14.99 per month or $99 paid annually.

Personally, as someone who used to get a lot of in-app purchases on this tool, I think it's better to have the subscription as you get access to thousands of designs, elements, and graphic packs. They work with some cool designers, just sayin'.

In summary, Over is an investment but if you are someone who is always asking “is this tool on mobile”, then it might be a good one to consider in your swag of Instagram Tools!

9. Quicc

If you have been using Instagram Stories or video on any platform you will know that many users watch with the sound off. This can be a challenge when you should be adding captions but it can be a costly and time-consuming exercise.

I have used a tool called Clipomatic to add captions to my Instagram Story videos but the tool only does video from your phone. But recently I discovered a new app called Quicc – and I love it!

Quicc tool for captioning videos - 9 Best Instagram Tools for Visual Storytelling
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Quicc allows you to submit any video (from YouTube to Facebook to Instagram and Instagram Story sizes) to their website and get the fully captioned video back in just a couple of minutes. The company that created Quicc has some pretty spectacular AI technology in their back pocket so they know their stuff when it comes to Artificial intelligence.

Although Quicc doesn't have a mobile app, you can submit your videos straight from mobile on Android or iOS. You can get double the minutes on any subscription plan with my link here.

That's an Instagram Tools Wrap

Excited about these tools? I hope you are, and I know that you will enjoy playing with them.

And here's a fun fact. Other than Headliner and Giphy, I have been fortunate to get to know the CEOs and teams from every one of these tools and they are genuine, kind people who really care about making something that allows non-designers to create amazing visual content. I think that matters, and I hope you do too.

Over to You

Which of these Instagram Tools are you using? Which ones are you keen to try? Let me know in the comments below!

9 Best Instagram Tools for Visual Storytelling
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Image by Cressido Studio, Shutterstock
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Donna Moritz

Visual Social Media Strategist at Socially Sorted
Donna is a Visual Content Strategist and founder of Socially Sorted, listed by Forbes as a "Top 5 Social Media Blog You Need to Know About". Donna helps brands leverage the power of visual storytelling and content strategy in their business. Her content has been featured in publications such as Forbes, Inc. & Entrepreneur and she is a speaker and trainer on visual content for the marketing and tourism industries internationally.
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