How and why your business should use GIFs on social media

Posted by Kay Stevens Mar 15, 2016 1:30:01 PM

Topics: Social Media


The Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) is a bitmap image format – think of them as a series of images played in sequence, like a flipbook. GIFs have been around since 1987, but they’ve made a humble comeback and now feature heavily on social media. The fact is, more and more brands are getting on board with them – and so should you.

GIFs should be chosen to be used on as and when basis, they are not suitable for every type of content, but they can be used to liven up posts, drive home a point and a level of richness and media to otherwise dry content. It also helps you to stand out on social media, adding moving images can really catch the eyes of consumers when they appear in their social feeds.

Twitter invites brands to party

If you took part in the #GIFparty, you’ll already know all about Twitter’s new feature. But for those of you who lost your invite in the post, we’ll let you in on the fun. While Twitter has already supported the .gif format for a while, it recently launched the ‘GIF Keyboard’ – a way of searching via GIPHY’s library and attaching a moving image to a tweet, much like the way Facebook enabled us to send GIFs via its messenger app (because sometimes an emoji or sticker just won’t do).

On 3 March 2016, Twitter invited everyone to join in using the hashtag #GIFparty, encouraging users to send their favourite GIF using the new feature. It’s fair to say a lot of businesses joined in on the fun and Twitter made itself the top worldwide trend. Some of our favourite tweets included:

  • Twitter - of course, because of cats and puns!
  • @CocaCola – for the best reaction GIF
  • @GameOfThrones – because we love #GoT
  • @dominos – for hypnotising pizza
  • @NASA – for making a GIF out of this world

So what’s all the fuss about? Just what makes brands get excited about GIFs? In this guide, we’ll explore why and how you can use GIFs on social media to support your business goals.

 Digestible data

 BuzzFeed have excelled in using GIFs to tell stories. They’re a perfect addition to its listicle articles and can break up content, making it more emotionally engaging and quicker to digest, highlighting key points.

GIFs are also great way to get information across in a snappier way. The Financial Times is a good example of how brands can use GIFs as a form of data visualisation, like in this tweet on the growth of cargo ships. While the article includes a long infographic, the GIF has the ability to condense all the information into one tweet.


We recently created this GIF for a competition, run by The XYZ building. The competition (#MCRalphabet) was to get people guessing the Manchester landmarks beginning with each letter of the alphabet, revealed each day – ending of course with ‘X’ for The XYZ building. The GIF was a great way of compiling all the images at the end of the competition when we revealed the winner. We soon saw an influx of activity on the Twitter page at the time of posting the GIF – with over 1,000 impressions and 20 engagements received.


 Promote your business

 A GIF can also be used as a way to advertise your business. A moving image is a much more attractive way to get your audience’s attention. For example, this banner ad we created for the Embankment scheme works much better than a still image. Too much text on an advertisement can be off-putting, but with a GIF you can add that extra bit of information on without it being too cluttered. It doesn’t have to have any fancy graphic effects – a simple movement of text and images like this GIF does the job.


 Show your personality

Humour is an essential part of what makes social content more engaging – it can also reflect the personality of your brand. However, it’s important to get the balance right - too many ‘silly’ posts and your business won’t get taken seriously.

Reaction GIFs have become something of a novelty since Tumblr popularised the trend of reacting to a comment with an animated GIF – whether it be a funny animal or popular movie quote. It’s even easier to do so on social media now Facebook and Twitter have jumped on the bandwagon by partnering up with GIPHY. After all, why say what you’re really feeling when you could just use a cute sloth GIF instead?

Overall, GIFs are a great way for you or your business to express yourself better. They can be used to create original, engaging content, to highlight a story - or simply to add some humour. Whatever the reason, there’s bound to be a GIF out there to sum up exactly what you need to say – and if there isn’t – go and create it!

But don’t worry, if you’re not sure about where to start with creating your own, we’ll be putting together a how-to guide on GIFs, so keep an eye out on our blog.

Feel free to get in touch to see how we can help put some spark into your social content – or why not get our attention on Twitter and fire us a tweet with your favourite GIF?


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