GIFs: Your Brand’s Social Media Superpower

Everyone loves a fun animated GIF (Graphics Interchange Format). From Instagram Stories to text messages, these moving bitmap images that resemble short looping videos seem to be everywhere these days.

In fact, even though the GIF file format for images and animation has been around since 1987, it is currently enjoying a surge in popularity thanks to faster internet speeds, increased use of messaging apps, and the mainstream acceptance of meme culture. You might say we are in the midst of a second Golden Age for the humble animated GIF!

With so many consumers using them as part of their daily communication, you would think GIFs would present a powerful opportunity for brands to get their message across in an engaging way through high-quality impressions. And you’d be right!

Yet, despite this, GIFs remain one of the most underutilized and underestimated tools for visual branding and engagement in social media.

Incorporating GIFs into your social media marketing strategy is a great way to get ahead of the competition in 2022. Read on to learn about the benefits of using GIFs — and GIPHY — in your branded communications and to discover how Sociality Squared’s unique approach to GIF strategy can help take your social media presence to the next level.

GIFs: Your Brand’s Social Media Superpower

The Benefits of GIFs

There are plenty of reasons to use GIFs in your marketing, especially if you want to increase engagement and improve your brand recognition.

Benefiting from the use of GIFs has a lot to do with simply harnessing the qualities that make them so popular in the first place: their versatility, ease of use, and ability to quickly and compellingly capture attention and convey emotion.

Think about it: One of the most important (and, often, most challenging) things marketing needs to do is hook an audience and tell them a meaningful story. GIFs are appealing, visually engaging, easily-digestible, and excellent at encapsulating a feeling, reaction, mood, or pop-culture reference in a humorous, relatable way…and within six seconds! They can tell an entire story and communicate a lot of information quickly, and they’re fun too.

A big part of what makes GIFs so effective is their ability to convey contextualized emotional sentiment. In fact, they actually solve a problem that has been well-established for years: chat and text are not good at communicating tone and perspective.

If you’ve ever received a text message that you initially found offensive, only to subsequently realize you had not understood that it was intended as sarcasm, you’ll understand the value of emotional context in communication — as well as the many miscommunications that can result when it is lacking. Without body language, tone, facial expressions, and other face-to-face cues we use without thinking about it convey and understand meaning, it’s easy to misinterpret a message. Emojis became popular as a way of filling in that missing emotional context, but GIFs are even more impactful for adding nuance and complexity. Sometimes, a perfect reaction GIF can communicate a sentiment better than words ever could.

Social media companies succeed based on the communities that form on their platform, and communities are built on social ties, connections formed by the sharing of knowledge, experience, and feeling. When you are able to better communicate feeling through digital channels, better online communities become possible. One need only take a look at the Tenor Emotional Graph, which maps the thoughts and feelings people want to communicate in mobile messages to the GIFs that help them say it, to begin to see the level of subtlety and intricacy that exists across the human emotional spectrum. The bottom line is that GIFs are simply the best way to communicate more of that spectrum.

Whether based on a video clip, animated illustrations or text, or Stickers (with a transparent background), the possibilities for what a GIF can be and how you can use them are practically endless. That means you can create unique, branded GIFs that not only represent the personality of your business but also encourage your audience to get involved by creating user-generated content with your GIFs.

What’s more, it is well-established that video is by far the most engaging type of social media content (see our recent blog post). But video content can be time-consuming and expensive to produce. However, platforms treat GIFs as video. That means they perform well, but they are quicker and easier to generate than video content — and often much more economical!

There is already significant integration for accessing GIF libraries and search engines across all major social media networks and messaging platforms, with more availability developing all the time. This is all thanks to GIPHY which powers the majority of the GIFs you see online!

On Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter, for example, GIPHY’s database of GIFs is always only a tap away. However, for your brand to truly capitalize on the potential of adding a spark of animation to social media posts, it’s essential to take it to the next level with your own unique, custom, branded GIFs that can be added to the GIPHY database and the marketing strategy to back them up.

That’s where we come in. 

S2 + GIPHY = Marketing Magic

At Sociality Squared, we regularly help create and share custom branded animations and Stickers for our clients.

To do this, we utilize GIPHY, a top GIF platform that powers just about every GIF database on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, text messaging, and more. GIPHY is everywhere, serving 10+ billion pieces of content to a user reach of 700+ million people…every single day! Needless to say, it’s an excellent way to distribute your GIFs.

It gets better: GIPHY also offers Brand Channels to support GIF distribution. It’s worth pointing out that the application process for this can be tricky, as the requirements are strict and there are no second chances if you make a mistake. Fortunately, S2 can facilitate the application and help you avoid common errors we’ve seen in the past.

As part of our GIF package we offer, we include a pack of ten original animated Stickers to layer your Stories that work for your brand and are user-friendly for your audience. These animated Stickers are interactive, meaning your fans can use them to add to the images and videos they post. They can also be used to make your campaigns pop more, for your own branded Instagram Story elements, and to convey the brand message.

We also like using GIPHY to host all GIFs to help build a library of reaction GIFs for your brand and community’s conversations. These can also be used in your communication strategy for GIF responses

You are also likely to receive a lot of free views of your branded content through the GIPHY library with the right tags, aka keywords. For example, we created a custom birthday cake animation to celebrate Sociality Squared’s ninth birthday several years ago…and it currently has over 2 million views on GIPHY!

As you can see, the potential reach for your branded GIF animations and Stickers can be surprising. But even without millions of views, adding GIPHY GIFs to your social media content is a surefire way to supercharge your engagement and elevate your strategy.

Ready to learn more? Get in touch today.

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Written By:

Edward Gibbons-Brown