Hack the GIF – Five Steps to a Viral GIF


Do you want your GIFs for an event, a product or a brand to go viral? Then learns from my five experiences that I had at the launch of my GIF collection.

In advance, it is very important that you clearly formulate your goal. Mine was: “My GIFs should go viral on the first weekend 2020 and visually dominate Instagram Stories.”

Why did I think that could work? Because the following things came together:

  • a lack of good GIFs.
  • a seasonal event with an event character
  • a high influencer and celebrity density
  • great media attention

What are the five steps I went through on my way to the viral GIF collection?

1. Clearly define the target group

Who should use your GIFs? We often think directly of potential customers. The most important are the users who reach the most potential customers. So either accounts with many followers. Or accounts that have a special meaning for the target group.

2. Research existing GIFs

If I want to create GIFs that perform well, I first have a look at what GIFs already exist. To do this, I go to the GIF search engine Giphy and enter common search terms for my topic, such as “Oktoberfest”, “Wiesn”, “Beer” and “Dirndl”. When a GIF appeals to me, I click on it to look at its views. So I slowly but surely find out which GIFs are going well and whether I am correct with my gut feeling.

3. Design and animated GIFs

The most important point: What should my GIFs look like? First of all in such a way that they clearly differ from the existing GIFs and stand out. Then I have to consider: In which environment are the GIFs used? What kind of stories will users do? Are your photos and videos rather light or dark? Outside or inside? With a restless background? More colourful? Are there dominant colors with which my GIFs have to compete or harmonize?

For my collection, I designed GIFs that score particularly well during the day – both in terms of their appearance and content. Because my goal “Virality on the first weekend” contains a time frame with several important dates that take place during the day. Many people will visit the arrival of the landlords with the subsequent barrel tapping on Saturday and the traditional costume and rifle parade on Sunday – and make stories about it.

It is of central importance that you put yourself in detail in the user. It is not about what you find beautiful, but which GIF the user chooses in the situation and mood in which he is currently.

I treat the animation as an extra design element. If you want to see my GIFs in motion, search for my gif on Giphy or in the Insta GIF search.

The type of animation and how fast I animate is crucial for the “arrival” of the user. What parts of the GIF do I animate? Do I just animate colors or a movement? Or do I even tell a little story with my animation? Caution: too fast, flashing GIFs attract attention, but often look cheap. The user is always looking for GIFs that increase their status. What could that be?

4. The perfect timing

My ultimate tip: don’t upload your GIFs too early or too late. Where exactly the golden mean lies depends on the area of ​​application. With a self-controlled GIF campaign for a product launch, you may be more independent in time than with an event like the Oktoberfest, where many companies try to score with GIFs.

If you are uploading GIFs for a time-limited event, you might try pushing up two or three GIFs a few days before the event and observe whether the other companies “twitch” and what they upload. Also important: you should know exactly how long it takes Giphy to unlock your GIFs. Always remember the time difference – obviously the process is not yet fully automated.

5. Create buzz

The viral GIF campaign definitely includes something that you don’t have in your hand. The last bit of luck. All the more important that you push everything that is in your power. On the said weekend, I followed all the accounts that I had as a target group and which I thought might make stories or be present for the opening. I also followed the popular story hashtags. I also called on my followers to send me screenshots if they see my GIFs in use.

What followed was really immense. Feels like half the Oktoberfest started using my GIFs at the same time. I couldn’t keep up with the screenshotting or answering my PMs. I wrote back and forth with influencers, celebrities and the press. No matter what hashtag story I watched – someone used my GIFs on every second screen.

My conclusion:

Planned virality on Instagram using GIFs works fantastic.

Vishal Garg has several years of experience in digital marketing. With good experience in advance marketing and promotional strategies, he has helped numerous brands establish their online niche with his out of the box internet marketing strategies and lead generation capabilities. He is working as a digital marketing consultant in India

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