Why and how to use Twitter GIFs to better connect with your audience in 20239 min read

It’s no secret that visuals add a needed emphasis to any message.

They help make any message more memorable, and text-heavy social media platforms such as Twitter have begun to use this phenomenon to their advantage.

On Twitter, it is now common to use photos, videos and even GIFs.

Keep reading to learn more about GIFs and how to best use them! 

What are GIFs?

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GIFs (pronounced as ‘gif’ or ‘jiff’, no one can agree) is technically a “Graphical Interchange Format” file. These are image files that are used to create static and animated images to share on social media. These compressed images don’t contain audio data. They’re often used on websites, emails and social media platforms because they’re saved in a lossless format and image quality isn’t degraded when used with GIF compression.

GIFs are created by looping bits of animation together to tell a visual story. The individual frames are displayed one after the other in order to create the illusion of animation – just like a movie, albeit a very short one!

GIFs are typically either snippets from a film, a TV show or adverts played on a loop.

Nowadays, there are whole databases of GIFs for all to use! 

Back in the day, GIFs were mainly used for displaying simple images on websites, such as logos and buttons. But since then, GIFs have become increasingly popular for creating animated images and memes over the years.

How are GIFs categorized?

Generally, GIFs fit into three main categories: video-based gifs, animation-based gifs, and sticker gifs. 

Video-based GIFs

These are the most popular kind of GIFs. They’re created from footage of a live event, like a football game or a concert, or fictional stories like TV shows and movies. This form of GIF is based on short, relatable clips that convey emotion, and usually relies on the fact that the viewer is familiar with the original video the GIF is based on – although not being completely familiar with the original media isn’t always necessary.


NBC created GIFs for The Office, one of their most successful television shows. Even though the show hasn’t created any new episodes in over 10 years, its GIFs allow fans of the show to express themselves in messaging conversations by sharing clips of their favorite characters and scenes. It also allows the show to gain exposure to a younger audience who may not have seen it before. To date, the Office  GIPHY channel has generated over 47 billion views!

This GIF format is preferred by marketers worldwide to use in emails, blog posts, websites and forums, as well as by everyday people in online conversations. 

This format is also very easily applicable to real-life moments: video-based GIFs are very simple to create, making it easy for brands to take their best video content and convert it into short, playful video clips.  

Animation-based GIFs

These are a series of images that are edited together to create a short looping animation. Animation-based GIFs are similar to video-based GIFs in the way they are distributed and used, but are more playful and quirky since they are made from a patchwork of images not previously combined.

Animation-based GIFs can be further divided into 2D or 3D GIFs.


2D Animated GIFs – These are the most common types of GIF images, and are usually used in social media posts and memes. They are also great for branding purposes and can be used to help promote a product or service. Most 2D Animated GIF files are created using one of two methods: the frame-by-frame or the layer-based method.

3D Animated GIFs – These types of animated GIF files are used mainly for advertising purposes and are typically found in commercials and product advertisements. 3D Animated GIFs are made using 3D modeling programs. They are made up of 3D graphics and resemble more a short video than a simple GIF image.

Sticker GIFs

These GIFs are images with transparent backgrounds that can be placed on top of other images or videos. They can add humor, visual flair and extra context to an image. Like their name implies, they are a lot like stickers in real life – very flexible! They can take any shape or form. These stickers are often used on social platforms in Instagram Stories and Snapchat, which has contributed to their boom. 


Sticker GIFs create a unique opportunity for brands on social media. By creating GIF Stickers unique to one’s brand, you can enable your existing customers to share your brand with all their followers, and have an opportunity to get non-customers to have a positive interaction. 

Why should brands and businesses use Twitter GIFs?

Recent statistics state that 74% of marketers use visuals in their social media content, and GIFs are one of them.

GIFs are beneficial for enhancing text content on social media platforms like Twitter. They bring visual appeal and humor to static commentary. In a way, they’re the Internet version of a facial expression or a gesture that helps clarify the tone of a phrase! With GIFs, one can roll their eyes, smirk, or even do a little dance. 

GIFs can be used by businesses to take a witty approach to social media messaging. They help increase user engagement, allow for more creativity in branding, and help simplify complex concepts. 

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The Twitter timeline is fast and brands that can use visuals effectively can fight the doom scrolling to grab users’ attention – it can help them stand out! Twitter GIFs help reduce cognitive load and increase how much users engage with your content. 

Connecting to young audiences

Time reported that 36% of millennials between the ages of 18 and 34 believe that stickers, emojis and GIFs can communicate their thoughts and feelings better and easier than words. Twitter GIFs are used for entertainment and emotional purposes and function as add-ons to the original message, making it more engaging, especially for younger users.


Many of these Twitter GIFs feature videos that reference popular TV shows and pop culture moments. Using them is therefore a good way to get users to engage with your content, because of their relatability and familiarity. 

Making complex ideas understandable

GIFs help simplify complex text messaging and convey ideas in an accurate tone. No longer confined to just text, messages with GIFs can better carry the nuances and intention behind each message.


Using GIFs is an innovative way of sharing messages. Since brands can create their own GIFs from nearly any video or animation, they can create short forms of content from longer pieces of content. It’s a way for them to maximize their return on their video investment and explore a new method of communicating with their audience!

How to put out content with GIFs on Twitter?

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In 2016, Twitter launched an integrated Twitter GIFs library.

Whenever you’re creating a tweet or a Direct Message, you can search and browse this Twitter GIFs library. Just click the GIF button and search by keywords or browse by categories to find the GIF you need, including different reactions from ‘oh snap’ to seriously?’

Here’s a breakdown of exactly how to use a GIF on Twitter. Keep in mind that you can add a GIF to a tweet, or tweet one by itself.

  • Log onto Twitter.
  • Click inside the tweet composer box or select the tweet composer button (marked by a quill/paper icon).
  • Select the GIF icon between the photo/video camera icon and the poll icon. 
  • The GIF search box opens. Select the category of your choice to see the GIFs it contains.
  • Alternatively, perform a specific search by entering a keyword or phrase in the search field at the top.
  • Select the GIF you want to use, and it will be inserted into your tweet automatically. You can insert up to four GIFs in a single tweet.

How to use GIFs as an individual or as a brand

According to Buffer, tweets that include a photo or visual should expect 1.5x more shares.

Using GIFs as a business helps to show your brand’s personality. Brands that appear human and share authentically can better create a connection with their audience, and funny/weird/endearing GIFs can be a part of that.‌ There are different ways businesses can implement using GIFs when conveying their message. 

Feature your products

GIFs are dynamic and allow you show off details about your business that may not come off through text. The animation allows for a great opportunity to highlight a key function or feature of your product. Don’t hesitate to make the most of this!

Visualize your data

Statistics and data visualizations are a great way to give concrete evidence of your product’s efficacy and worth. However, they need to be presented it in a creative way, and GIFs are a great tool to showcase figures in a more appealing fashion. GIFs can help turn what could otherwise be boring numbers into something visually stimulating and engaging! Your data and information will look more like a game than a social media post, which should encourage engagement.

Provide visual instructions

GIFs are a great way to spice up educating your audience, for instance by breaking down how-to’s, step-by-step tutorials, recipes or workout poses. Since GIFs loop forever, your audience can watch them as many times as they need to fully understand what you’re trying to teach them. After all, it’s often a lot easier to explain something visually than with words!

Have fun with brand messaging

If you want to come across as approachable, positive and direct, Twitter GIFs are the perfect way to reply to your users, whether they love the products or need customer service. Depending on the tone of the interaction, GIFs can help you forge stronger and friendlier connections. Including a GIF shows that you have a sense of humor, humanizes your brand and adds flair to your message.

Showcase company culture

People love knowing who’s behind the brands they work with or rely on.

Twitter GIFs are a fun, quick way to put a face to a name and give an inside look at your company’s culture! 

Additionally, Twitter has cultivated such a connection with GIFs that it is now possible to download Twitter GIFs, with different methods. Visuals always make content ten times more interesting, and Twitter’s growing understanding of the importance of GIFs is a step in the right direction!

We hope this article has made it clear to you that Twitter GIFs are an amazing tool you should definitely use to better reach your audience! With all our tips, you should soon see results from making your tweets more engaging thanks to GIFs. 

For more help with your Twitter marketing, check out our Ultimate Guide!

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