What the GIF? 17 tips for super GIF success

It’s been 30 years since the GIF entered our lives with a Dancing Baby, also known as Baby Cha-Cha, which was one of the first viral videos in the late 1990s. Today, GIFs are arguably the language of the web and digital communication – and undoubtedly a big part of social media. Giphy, the largest online GIF database, boasts 300 million daily users and serves up 2 billion GIFs per day on their platform. Every day more than five million Gifs are exchanged on Facebook Messenger, 23 million posted on Tumblr, while 500 million were posted on Twitter in 2018.

Gifs have a place in serious journalism as well as the ephemeral world of entertainment. They have become an important element of digital and social media marketing – every large brand in 2019, along with smaller brands and agencies, use GIFs in their digital campaigns and digital communication. In the last couple of years, their use in the commercial arena has transformed the way we use GIFs and interact with them.

GIFs are so prevalent that they are now the verbs of the web. Engagement rates soar when a GIF is used – as a deeper way to report news, to enhance already-existing content, or as a great conversation starter.

Here are Hey Honey’s 17 tips on how to make and use a GIF successfully:


  1. MAKE IT MOBILE. Yes, pretty obvious  but many people make GIFs on big monitors even though the audience often access them via a mobile device, so beware of small text. Don’t make them too large in size either – smaller is better for social.

  2. SCREEN IT TOGETHER. Think of GIFs as a team sport. Even if working alone, share data from reporting. This can help in all aspects of GIF usage.


  3. LOOK FOR SHORT ‘WOW!’ MOMENTS. Attention spans last seconds. Make sure you grab that perfect frame or couple of seconds you need for the perfect GIF.


  4. BUDGET FOR CUSTOM GRAPHICS, PHOTOS OR ILLUSTRATIONS. Does it require a video lift, need a storyboard or can it be quick and dirty?


  5. FIND THE SHORT GRIPPING STORY TO START THE CONVERSATION. In less than 10 seconds the creator must make something clickable and shareable. Ask yourself: can it stand alone?


  6. DON’T BE IRRESPONSIBLE OR OFFENSIVE. If you wouldn’t say it, don’t GIF it.


  7. CONSIDER THE PLATFORM. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Tumblr? Transparent background for stickers or background included? One GIF design will not work across every platform. Adapt the core concept to all.


  8. QUOTE A GRAPHIC. Or make a silent soundbite. Don’t copy and paste a quote.


  9. GIF ON THE FLY. This is ideal for press conferences and events. We recommend Gif Cam, GifLab, EZGif and Giphy are the best tools to make your message stand out.


  10. VISUALISE THE DATA. Use mini headlines or subheaders. The dense material can be brought to life with a GIF and can be an access point into a deeper article.


  11. INVITE ENGAGEMENT. Have a hashtag in the GIF to jumpstart the conversation. If you are using GIFs for digital campaigns, use as many relevant hashtags as you can: this way, your GIF will show up much more. #askaboutwomen


  12. TWEET IT. The fast moving content makes it the obvious choice to support your GIF.


  13. POST IT ON FACEBOOK. Facebook and Giphy/Tenor integration updates in the last year or two have made it super easy to post any GIF you want to Facebook and share it with anyone.


  14. ADD GIFS TO EMAIL CAMPAIGNS. If you’re going to spam people, spam them with character. Studies show there’s a 94% higher click through rate.


  15. BRAND IT OR DON’T BRAND IT? Depends on where you put it. Tumblr says more shares if unbranded. But we think it’s always good to leave your mark, just be creative and subtle about it. If you’re working on GIFs for a brand, make sure you brand it with style and creativity.


  16. TRACK A CUSTOM URL. eg bit.ly or Google Analytics


  17. SHARE AND SHARE AGAIN. We don’t need to tell you why.