Making the Most of Custom GIFs

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GIFs. You love ’em or you love ’em. I’ve never come across a person who doesn’t like GIFs. Sure, there are certain moments when GIFs just don’t fit, but in many cases, GIFs are an excellent mood and engagement booster. Of course, such an interesting feature shouldn’t be left unexplored. So we invited social media trainer, #TwitterSmarter regular, co-host of our after chat, and GIF-ficianado Christine Gritmon, to talk about custom GIFs and how you can get the most out of them. Here’s a summary of our chat.

Guest: Christine Gritmon
Topic: Making the most of custom GIFs
Format: Eight questions directed at the guest. Everyone’s welcome to chat.

Q1: Why should brands create custom GIFs?

Christine decided to make custom GIFs because she wanted to use her own personality to promote her brand. It made sense, too, because a GIF is a great way to connect with an audience and encourage them to engage with you. When that GIF really is you, then you take that connection to a whole new level. It’s like giving your audience a preview of who you are as a person.

Dustin pointed out another great reason to use custom GIFs. When you go the extra mile to film a video and convert that into a custom GIF, you’re signaling to your audience that you care about them so much that you’re willing to do extra to give them great content.

Q2: How do you use custom GIFs on Twitter?

Most people use custom GIFs in replies to conversations, which is great because it makes the person you’re replying to feel like you personally addressed them. It’s akin to saying, “Hey Greg!” in an email instead of a generic “Hi there!” Christine also told us about how using custom GIFs in her chat, #ChatAboutBrand, makes them pop in a noisy feed and helps people easily recognize her tweets.

Julia from NOW Marketing Group also pointed out that custom GIFs are ideal for adding some extra context to our tweet. It helps emphasize your message or just add a dash of color to a monotonous text-based post.

Q3: Share some tips for branding and marketing your GIFs.

The most important tip for marketing your custom GIFs is to use them regularly. That’s the only way to get them out there on people’s feeds.

It’s also important to make your GIFs look and feel like yours. That’s the essence of good branding. Add elements that help people recognize your brand. In Christine’s case, she uses a specific shade of red that’s consistent with her messaging across all of her content.

To take your custom GIFs branding act further, consider adding elements like your Twitter handle, your logo, and your own favorite font to your GIFs. This ensures you have consistency in your messaging.

As Lance suggested, another way to brand your GIFs is to simply wear specific shades or styles of clothing that represent your brand. For instance, wearing a t-shirt with your logo on it or standing in front of a panel that has your brand colors. These are easy and inexpensive ways to establish your brand.

Q4: What apps can you use to make your own GIFs?

Making a GIF is as easy as recording a video and putting it through Giphy. It’s the most straightforward and standard tool to create custom GIFs. However, as Christine said, you can also edit your videos before you put them through Giphy. Christine uses WaveVideo to do this—she adds text using her own font, and adds effects that resonate with her brand.

Jim shared a couple more tools as well, such as Canva and Easil.

Of course, we can’t not mention our chat regular: Biteable!

PicCollage, Momento GIFs, and imgflip all got a shot-out from our community. What’s more, Rachel added that you can loop Live Photos on your iPhone or use Instagram’s Boomerang feature to the same effect.

Madalyn shared YouTuber Justin Brown’s video on how to make custom GIFs using your phone and the Giphy app. Have a look!

Q5: How do you decide what type of GIFs to make?

Christine’s favorite way is to keep a running list. She notices her most common emotions, reactions, and phrases and writes them down so she can look them up later. More frequent reactions get a GIF.

Our friends from VirtuDesk told us they like to use templates to create their GIFs. Instead if making one from scratch, they look for existing ideas and models that they can then customize to suit their brand.

Q6: What are some do’s and don’ts to remember when creating custom GIFs?

Don’t take them too personally. As our guest said, if your GIFs are public, chances are people all across the world are going to use them. Don’t hang on to them too closely or you’ll upset yourself every time someone uses your GIF in a context you don’t agree with. Even though it’s your GIF, when someone else uses it, no one’s going to think that that’s your opinion, so don’t worry too much.

What you should do, though, is have fun. As Madalyn pointed out, the purpose of a custom GIF is to showcase your personality. So don’t be afraid to show it and enjoy the process.

Alyx shared a couple more great don’ts. Don’t force something into your GIF, such as a font style, an image, or a sticker, that you know doesn’t fit in. And of course, don’t use other people’s work and call them yours. Using other people’s public GIFs is ok, but promoting it as your own work is not.

Q7: What are some best practices for writing alt text for custom GIFs?

Always have alt. text for your GIFs. Alternative text is a descriptive piece of text that explains what your GIF is all about. People who use screen readers to engage on Twitter will read this alternative text to understand the context of your GIF and what’s in it. Make sure your alternative text accurately describes the actions in your GIF as clearly as possible.

As our friend from GiveWP added, remember that your alt. text is the only way to convey your GIF to people who don’t see it. It’s more challenging to describe a GIF than it is to describe a static image, so use short sentences and clear transition words to get your meaning across.

Q8: Are there any instances where you shouldn’t use custom GIFs?

A few. One is when you can get your point across more easily with a popular culture reference, such as a scene from a movie or TV series. Since most people already associate that scene with a particular emotion or situation, you don’t have to give too much context in your tweet to convey your message effectively.

Another instance is to promote your friends. Instead of using your own GIFs, consider using a friend’s GIF as a way to cheer them on and give their work a boost.

From a more serious perspective, always use your judgment before sharing that custom GIF. As Jim reminded us, read the room and understand the situation first. For example, if you’re replying to a friend who’s had deep personal problems, responding with a custom GIF probably isn’t a good idea—even if your GIF is somber in nature. GIFs are associated with happy and uplifting situations, so don’t place them where they may not be welcome or enjoyed.

Well, folks, that’s all from me. Thanks a lot for reading and for more great insights from our chat with Christine, check out this Twitter thread. If you think this summary is handy, let us know! We love to hear what you think of it. And if you’ve got some time to spare on Thursday afternoons, grab a drink and join us for our next #TwitterSmarter chat. We’ll be chatting away from 1pm ET. See you then!

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About me, Narmadhaa:

I write all the things—technical and marketing copy to fill the pocket; haiku and short stories to fill the soul. A social media enthusiast, I’m a member of the #TwitterSmarter chat crew, and always happy to take on writing gigs.

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