Social Media

Twitter Makes Internet Happy, Adds GIFs to Timeline

June 18, 2014

The Twitter timeline has become a more visually exciting (and happy) place today, thanks to the launch of GIFs. The announcement comes after several visual content updates, including the ability to upload multiple photos in a single tweet and the debut of one-click video ads.

Despite Twitter’s recent strides in visual content, until now there hasn’t been a seamless way for brands and individual users to share the Internet’s micro-content format of choice: the GIF. Previously, people were leveraging workarounds via platforms like Giphy to allow GIF content to play within the timeline.

How does it work?

Whereas previously most users didn’t know how to leverage workarounds to post GIFs, this update makes it easy for all Twitter users to upload GIFs via iPhone, Android and web clients. Only one GIF can be shared per tweet, and similar to photos, the content shared must be under 3MB. Direct Messages do not currently support GIFs.

From the timeline, users that encounter GIF posts can tap to play content within the stream. They do not play automatically unless someone is encountering the GIF from the individual posts. Sharing GIFs is as easy as sharing a photo or Vine, as users can re-tweet GIFs, quote the tweet content or simply copy and paste the links within another tweet.

What does this mean for marketers?

Tumblr has historically been the primary destination for sharing GIFs, but marketers, especially entertainment brands, now have the ability to share this content in a more real-time format – and in most cases, to a larger audience. Whether it’s teasing an upcoming episode or repurposing pre-existing content that lives on the Internet, GIFs will now be an essential part of a brand’s content plan on Twitter.

Advertisers are able to put paid support behind all GIF content. Media managers can upload a GIF via the API, but the Ads UI dashboard does not currently support GIFs.

For entertainment brands in particular, the inclusion of the GIF in the timeline will bring live-tweeting to a whole new level. For example, networks can create a larger impact by anticipating moments that will resonate and prepare GIFs in advance. Brands can expect accelerated fan engagement with the ability to share GIFs (and promote with media) in real-time. 360i client USA Network is already having some fun with GIFs:



Sports brands and news outlets will also benefit from the update. GIFs have emerged as a critical piece of sports conversation across social media. Now, sports brands (e.g. teams and leagues) and news outlets (e.g. ESPN and Bleacher Report) can provide in-game highlight reels via the micro-content format. The announcement also comes at an opportune time, as the World Cup is in full swing and already proving to be a highly GIF-worthy tournament. The MLS, for example, has already kicked off their own GIF efforts:



Finally, we expect CPG and QSR brands to enhance their visual content via GIFs as well. Responsive messaging can become more authentic, humanizing the brand to consumer interaction. It will also allow those brands with a sense of humor to showcase their personalities via simple tweets:




While the battle on how to pronounce the word GIF may rage on, marketers everywhere are rejoicing that they can now share this beloved content format on Twitter.

By Danielle Johnsen Karr, Community Supervisor and Tommy Galgano, Community Manager, 360i.