Since 2013, the internet has been inundated with GIFs. The format may have originally been introduced in the late 1980’s, but it wasn’t until platforms like Giphy, the first and largest repository of GIFs, that the trend really took off. Giphy started to invest in collecting pre-existing GIFs, as well as generating some of their own from trends in pop-culture, to make GIF culture popular.

The lo-fi format means animated GIFs are easier to share and easier to consume than video. Not only that, GIF posts take less time to form than text posts and can convey more information than text, emoji, or image-based posts. It’s no wonder that platforms like Giphy, now valued at 300 million USD, noted these factors and foresaw the untapped digital advertising potential of the format.

“A picture is worth 1,000 words. An average GIF is 60 frames. That’s 60,000 words.”
– Brad Zeff, CCO, Giphy

Twitter can be primarily credited with opening the floodgates to the trend of live-GIFing when they upgraded their platform to allow native GIF uploads. Twitter’s platform, known for its fast exchange rate — a tweet has a relevancy lifespan of 18 mins — houses 95% of public conversation during live events. Droves of Twitter users have enjoyed live-tweeting during major live events like the Superbowl, the Oscars, Presidential Debates, etc. Adding GIFs, with their ability to convey more information in a quick, dynamic looping animation, was a perfect fit for the live-posting arena.

For those don’t know, live-GIFing involves sussing out potentially viral moments during live public events, making a GIF of the moment and publishing it to social media instantaneously. With live-GIF posts, businesses can easily participate and shape the fast-paced live interaction that platforms like Twitter present, strengthening their relationship with followers, and improving their brand persona. This gave many companies like MTV, Fox, and iHeart Radio, the incentive to partner with Giphy for professional live-GIF coverage of their events.

Live-GIFed Events by Giphy:

Offering this live complimentary viewing in GIFs garnered millions of views for all types of events, increasing the interest in GIFs as an advertising tool tenfold.

The great news for other businesses interested in adopting this trend is that creating top quality GIFs during live events doesn’t require a special set of skills. Anyone with a desktop or a smartphone can record and share GIFs of their own in seconds using apps like Giphy Capture and Giphy Cam.

The Starz TV show, Outlander, made their own GIFs to live-GIF their show’s first season on social media. The show’s story, originally adapted from a popular book, came with a dedicated, loyal fan base. This led show creators to worry that the show would struggle to build sufficient buzz on social media since fans of the book would already know the story’s plot.

As an answer to this problem, before the series aired, the marketing team screened all eight episodes and evaluated which moments would garner the most attention from viewers. Three to four GIFs were created from each episode, totaling 40 GIFs for the whole first season. As each new episode aired each week, the marketing team would live-GIF moments as they occurred in the episode.

The results of Outlander’s live-GIFing strategy:

  • GIF tweets performed 49% greater than other types of tweets.
  • Outlander outperformed HBO’s True Blood in total Twitter engagements despite having 87% fewer followers.
  • Seven different Outlander keywords or hashtags trended either worldwide or in the U.S. during episode airings.
  • The series outperformed in-season GIF content from competitor shows: The Leftovers (+477%), Vikings (+416%), True Blood (+92%) and Orphan Black (17%).

Outlander’s marketing success is one of countless others that proves that any company can create professional looking GIFs to create a successful live-GIF marketing strategy. Book signings, product launches, store openings, sports tournaments, or any public event, can be that much more dynamic to social media audiences by live-GIFing it.

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