Using GIFs in business

GIFs, JIFs, Graphic Interchangeable Formats… whatever you want to call them, they’ve become a permanent addition to the online world – and they’re here to stay.

Not convinced? 5 million GIFs are exchanged on Facebook Messenger daily. More than 2 million GIF interactions take place on Slack a month, and over 1 million GIFs are sent online on popular GIF hosting platform GIPHY each day.

Businesses all over the world are quickly realising that using GIFs as part of their social media or email marketing strategy is, therefore, an excellent way to boost reach and engagement. But if you think throwing in a cute dog GIF here and there is going to get you results, we’re sorry to say that’s not the case. There are right ways and wrong ways to use GIFs in a business – and we’re going to show you what they are.

Aren’t GIFs just those funny moving images?

People often think that GIFs have to be funny in nature in order to be effective. While a large number of them are used for humorous effect, there’s no reason they have to be. GIFs can actually be a great tool to help educate your audience on a topic that may be complicated or to simply advertise a product in a way that’s more engaging than just a static image.

Take the popular news website, Huffington Post. In 2015 they ran a news article about the 5 different ways to wear a silk scarf. On paper, it doesn’t actually sound like the most thrilling read. However, instead of walls of text with instructions, the article used original GIFs with fashion editors to visually explain how to wear the scarf.


Funny done right

Depending on the story, comedic GIFs may not be the best fit for someone like the Huffington Post, but for a business such as pizza maker DiGiorno, injecting a bit of fun and humour through GIFs has seen them earn an impressive 127,000 followers – and an easy 100 likes and retweets per post. How you ask? Here’s an example:

While the types of GIFs used will vary business to business, all effective GIFs will have one thing in common – they will make the customer want to act. In the above examples, they make the customer want to try out the different ways to wear a scarf or to simply try a tasty slice of pizza. Don’t just use a GIF because it’s “cool” or “funny” – think about what it will make the customer feel and do.

Where do I find these GIFs?

A good place to start is to visit GIPHY’s trending page. Here you’ll be able to see the most popular GIFs of the day, and get an idea of what everyone’s sharing on the web. Tenor is also a good place to see what’s trending, and has the added bonus of telling you which topics have increased in popularity with a handy percentage increase. GIFs of snow increased by 21% on the day we wrote this blog. We wonder why?

Using a GIF at the height of its popularity is a great way to raise your chances of people engaging with your post or email, but again make sure it’s the right fit for your business and sends the right message to the customer. You’ll have to be quick though –  in the age of the internet things can go from hot to not in less than a few hours, and you don’t want to be posting things that people are no longer talking about.

Make it your own

A good way to avoid this issue entirely though is to make your own! Anyone can make their own GIF these days with minimal technical experience. All you need is a bit of creativity and the right tools. The GIPHY Cam app for smartphones is a great choice for making and editing GIFs on the go, or you can simply use the online GIF maker on their website.

We have a workshop on Creative Content making that covers this very topic too, giving great advice on GIF making that’s relevant to your businesses content themes.

What makes a GIF popular?

But what makes a GIF popular? Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer, but looking at the top 10 most sent GIFs on GIPHY in 2018 may help give us some insight.

So, the most popular GIF of 2018 is… this.

Image result for okurrr

For those unaware, the woman in this GIF is rapper and singer Cardi B. Her Twitter page boasts an impressive 4.21M followers. She’s a popular woman, which may go some way to explaining the GIFs popularity.

The GIF is also from the Tonight Show, a popular American TV show hosted by Jimmy Fallon. According to TV By The Numbers, it rakes in 2-3 million viewers an episode, particularly in the 18-49 age category – an age group far more likely to use GIFs then than anyone over the age of 50.

So, you’ve got a GIF with two massively popular things, that are aimed at the age group most likely to use GIFs. That goes some way to explain the GIFs popularity. But does a GIF simply just need to use someone famous to succeed? Perhaps, but there’s an additional factor too.

Using Google Keyword Planner, we can see how often the phrase ‘Okurrrr’ was searched for throughout the year. The phrase easily gets 75k in search volume a month, with May 2018 seeing the highest with 127k. Combine this with stats from Google Trends, we can see a similar trend, with May 2018 being the peak popularity for the term.


So perhaps the equation to be the most popular GIF of the year is:

Popularity² + Popular phrase/trend that 18-49 years old enjoy = GIF of 2018.

I guess we’ll have to see if our equation still holds in 2019. Whatever GIFs you end up using for your business though, remember these important words from GIPHY’s CEO, Alex Chung, if you’re still not sold on them:


A picture may be worth a thousand words, but as the average GIF contains sixty frames, then they’re capable of conveying 60,000 words – the same as the average novel.”

Interested in learning more about how to make your business stand out thanks to the wonders of digital marketing? Why not check out the courses we have on offer around creating your own engaging content, or drop us a call.

Phone: 01303 765394
Giant Campus. Top Floor The Civic Centre Castle Hill Avenue
Folkestone Kent CT20 2QY