The New Twitter GIF Feature: Go Viral in a Series of Photos!

Twitter is always working to bring new and innovative features to their users. They announced on their blog that they will now allow GIFs to play in tweets. Or as Mashable groaningly put it: “Twitter gave its users a GIFt on Wednesday.”

The GIF feature is only available on the homepage, iPhone and Android devices. This covers most usage on Twitter, a full rollout to all devices is expected. So, how can you start reaching people with a Twitter GIF and see your follower numbers grow? Keep reading!

The Twitter GIF Feature: Wait, what’s a GIF?

GIFs are images that play on a loop. There is no sound played with GIFs, it is just images. When they’re loaded and playing properly, they look like a mini-movie. When the last frame, or image, is played they loop back around to the first image. They then play for, well, as long as someone wants to look at them.

You have to think of your GIFs on Twitter as little movies that will be played for a few seconds. This requires maximum impact without the aid of sound – you have to tell an entirely visual story with the help of 140 characters or less.

Excellent examples of a Twitter GIF that’s already up

I’m a big fan of Neil deGrasse Tyson and his Cosmos TV show. They have incredible visuals nearly constantly on that show. While some of the pictures that they share on their Twitter account are great, few had the share-ability of their first GIF depicting a spinning star:

General Electric have been having a lot of fun with their #BrilliantMachines hashtag. It has allowed them the chance to look at inventions that don’t get much exposure. Enhancing this with a GIF has only increased their engagement with the hashtag and their brand:

It doesn’t have to be so serious all the time. The National Aquarium took footage of their jellyfish, which every aquarium has stacks of, and turned it into a GIF. Their addition of a reference to a certain bootylicious song cracked a few smiles, and earned them a few shares:

Again, this is from content they already had laying around. You can do this too with your own content, with someone else’s content, or with tweets that you find that have a GIF in them that you like.

Is it hard to make a Twitter GIF?

Besides the fact that there are already thousands, hundreds of thousands even, of GIFs out there with an open license on them already, making a GIF is easy. Even better, these pieces of content are great for our Twitter promotional services as they will get a great reaction amongst the right people – getting the shares and new followers that you desire.

If you’re technically inclined, you can do it in Photoshop. For the rest of us, there are online tools and apps designed specifically for creating GIFs easily:

  • MakeAGIF: Just find a YouTube video you like, your own are primed and ready, select the start and stop time, and you’re off. Create a free account to get rid of the “” website watermark and everyone will think you’re a keen online user.
  • ImgFlip: This allows you to add funny or explanatory captions to enhance upon your 140 characters. It can be a bit confusing as you have to download a YouTube video using KeepVid.
  • GIF Brewery: This Mac only app cost $5, but actually works all the time, unlike most free browser extensions. You can do pretty much everything you’d possibly want your GIF to do – fade in and out, captions, move to center, image cropping, adjsut file size, and select the exact moment you want it to begin and end.


Feature image credit to Web Treats INC. on Deviant Art.

by Ernest Thompson

Ernest is an online marketing user and abuser with a keen eye for the latest viral trends. His years of experience in the online marketing industry are presented here on Viral Tactics for you to learn from, and to offer you a chance to add your opinions.