Finding new ways to capture your audience’s interest is becoming harder than ever on social media. A whopping 62.% of the world’s population uses social media, clocking in an average of 2 hours and 23 minutes, according to Smart Insights.

What can you do to get people to notice your content and stay engaged with it? Enter the GIF—an animated, looping image that’s become a popular staple of online conversations.

So, let’s dig into the basics of a GIF then a little deeper into how using GIFs can transform your social media. And how do you pronounce GIF? Do you use a hard g or a soft g sound? People who say “hard g” claim it is because of the origin of the word.

What Is a GIF?

A GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) is a type of digital image file that supports both static and animated images. Since first introduced in 1987, the GIF has seen a surge in popularity, and it has become a favorite way to convey emotions, reactions, and brief sequences of action on the Internet.


Giphy reports that 500 million daily active users on its platform send +500 million GIFs per day, according to Giflytics.

Why so many? Because using GIFs can be transformative in your communications.

According to the research in Understanding the Emotional Impact of GIFs on Instagram through Consumer Neuroscience:

“[GIFs] are a good tool for sensory appeal through the use of movement, color and repetition. They are considered a suitable resource to generate emotionality, as they can represent a wide variety of feelings. In addition, due to their simplicity and high number of meanings, they manage to arouse empathy with the content shown. These qualities lead brands to use GIFs to design experiences with affective qualities.”

Here’s a closer look at what makes GIFs unique.

Key characteristics of GIFs

  1. Animation: Unlike static images (such as JPEGs or PNGs), GIFs can display a sequence of images in a loop, creating an animation effect. This capability makes them ideal for short clips and repeating actions.
  2. Limited colors: GIFs use a limited color palette of up to 256 colors, which keeps file sizes small. This is a trade-off between image quality and file size, making GIFs quick to load and share.
  3. Compression: GIFs use lossless compression, which means the image quality is preserved during the compression process. However, the limited color palette can affect the overall quality.
  4. Transparency: GIFs support transparency, allowing parts of the image to be fully transparent. This feature is useful for overlaying GIFs onto different backgrounds without a visible border.
  5. Widespread support: GIFs are widely supported across various platforms, including social media sites, messaging apps, and web browsers. This universal compatibility contributes to their popularity.

But aside from the technical aspects, there are also many other reasons why people love to use GIFs, especially in the context of social media.

Why GIFs Are Great for Social Media Engagement

However you pronounce it, the GIF is the easiest way to get, and keep, your audience’s attention. Here’s why.

Using GIFs creates a connection

Imagine a user scrolling through their feed, filled with text-heavy posts. Suddenly, a clever, well-timed GIF catches their eye. They pause, they laugh, they engage.


That moment of connection is invaluable and demonstrates why GIFs are such a powerful tool. They capture attention, but more importantly they generate an emotional response in the person viewing them.

In a Tenor poll, “a majority of people across age groups said they feel ‘more connected’ to people they frequently message when using emojis and GIFs, young people expressed a much higher level of comfort with smiley faces than actual dialogue,” according to a Times article about GIFs.

“When asked whether they are ‘more comfortable’ expressing emotions through those visuals than through phone conversations, 68% of millennials agreed, compared to 37% of those over the age of 65.”

As any good marketer knows, this emotional response is beneficial for several reasons:

1. Greater engagement: When users connect emotionally with your content, they are more likely to interact with it. This means more likes, shares, and comments, which can boost your visibility and reach on social media platforms.
2. Enhanced memorability: Content that evokes an emotional response is more likely to be remembered. This helps in creating a lasting impression of your brand in the minds of your audience.
3. Improved persuasion: Emotional connections can make your messages more persuasive. When viewers feel something, they are more inclined to act, whether it’s clicking a link, making a purchase, or sharing your content.
4. Stronger brand loyalty: Consistent use of GIFs that resonate with your audience can build a stronger emotional bond with your brand, building loyalty and trust.

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But the benefits of GIFs doesn’t stop there. Here are a few more reasons why you should be using them in your social media strategy:

Clarity and Tone

Now consider that 55% of emotional communication occurs through body language. Well, without being able to see body language to convey those emotions, it is also more difficult, then, to persuade your audience or reader to take action. And that is where using a GIF can really come in handy!

On social media, it is incredibly easy for a message to be misunderstood or misinterpreted.  Sarcasm or humor, for instance, often loses its impact without vocal tone or visual cues. But with GIFs, you can add context and convey your tone effectively through a simple visual image, making your message more engaging.

“GIFs allow you to give more context when responding to a message on social media. It is a great way to reply and maintain that human element and build a better relationship with your audience.”
Jacob Hilpertshauser, Agorapulse product manager

Brand Personality

In addition to giving context, GIFs also help showcase your specific brand personality and voice. By using a consistent style or theme in your GIFs, you can reinforce your brand’s identity and make it more memorable for users.

Whether your brand is quirky, professional, or somewhere in between, there’s probably a GIF for that. Consistent use of GIFs aligned with your brand voice helps create a cohesive and recognizable online presence. You can even apply for a GIPHY brand channel, and if approved, you would be able to upload branded and custom GIFs that are available in the GIPHY search, not just for you, but for everyone who uses GIPHY.

Hot Tip: If you want your stickers to appear in the GIPHY search, but don’t qualify for a Brand Channel, there is another way. Any content created through GIPHY’s desktop Sticker Maker or sticker or text uploaded using one of the GIPHY mobile apps will be available via @username search. Just follow the best practices for creating GIFs and Stickers, wait for it to be approved by the GIPHY moderation team, and your GIF will appear in the search results.

Using GIFs improve efficiency

Another reason GIFs are essential for social media is that they can help you respond in a timely manner to comments or DMs. If you are managing a high volume of social media interactions, this can become an overwhelming and seemingly impossible task.

Using GIFs offers a quick and expressive way to respond to incoming messages without the need for lengthy text. A well-placed GIF can succinctly convey your message, saving time while maintaining engagement.

This efficiency is particularly beneficial for those in customer support, during high-traffic periods, or when managing multiple social media accounts.

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Best Practices for Using GIFs

Using GIFs effectively also requires strategy and care, so you’ll want to follow some best practices when using them.


While GIFs are fun and engaging, it’s crucial to use them appropriately. Always consider the context of the conversation and the message you want to convey. A well-chosen GIF can enhance your message, but an inappropriate one can have the opposite effect. Stick to GIFs that align with your brand’s tone and the situation at hand. Also, be mindful of sensitive topics—sometimes, a text response might be more appropriate than a GIF.



Avoid using too many GIFs in a single conversation, as it can be overwhelming for the reader, and can be distracting, or even cause a bit of visual information overload. Instead, strategically place them where they can make the most impact.

From humorous reactions to heartfelt sentiments, GIFs make interactions more fun. Beyond their playful nature, GIFs hold significant potential for enhancing your social media engagement. The best part is that with Agorapulse’s new GIPHY integration, tapping into this potential is easier than ever. (Don’t worry, we’ll show you how).

Agorapulse’s Unique GIPHY Advantage

Agorapulse’s GIPHY integration not only makes it easier to find and share GIFs but also significantly speeds up your workflow. No more clunky uploads or searching for the perfect GIF outside the platform. By eliminating the need to leave the platform to search for relevant GIFs, you save valuable time and can focus more on engaging with your audience. Exciting, right??

using gifs

With this integration, you can seamlessly browse and insert GIFs directly into your responses within Agorapulse, making your workflow more efficient and enjoyable.

Please note: The Giphy integration right now is only available for replying on Facebook engagements, ad comments, organic comments, and private messages. You can get the Giphy integration on all Agorapulse plans except free.

Get more details from Jacob in this video:

How to use GIFs with Agorapulse

There are two ways to access GIFs in Agorapulse:
1. GIF button that is available in the Inbox and the Listening for selected networks.

agorapulse and giphy inbox

Agorapulse and giphy inbox

2. On supported networks described below, users can upload a GIF via the “Upload photo” pictogram.

GIF upload photo

A few clicks later, and your chosen GIF is ready to be part of your message. This streamlined process saves time and ensures your responses are speedy and engaging.

If you would like to change your plan to access this feature, feel free to reach out to us here. If you want to see the GIPHY integration added to other platforms, we’d love to hear about it. Just drop us a line on social media and let us know!


A GIF is Worth a Thousand Words

GIFs are more than just images—they’re a powerful tool for enhancing engagement, conveying tone, and showcasing your brand personality. With Agorapulse’s GIPHY integration, incorporating GIFs into your social media strategy has never been easier or more efficient.

Ready to see it in action? Book a demo with a member of our team today and see how it can transform the way you connect with your audience.