How Should Brands Use Gifs?

Gifs have been around for 30 years but the past few years has seen an explosion in their use.
Whether you are looking for Joey in ‘Friends’ to say “How you doin’?”…
Joey from 'Friends' saying 'How You Doin?'
..or Michelle Obama doing the happy dance…
Michelle Obama dancing like Giphy serve up more than 1 billion gifs on a daily basis.
But is it appropriate for a brand to use these third party images? It’s a question we’ve been asked by some clients.
Do gifs have a place in the content calendar and can they be used when responding to customers?
While it might look cute or funny to use a third party gif in a content calendar, it is inadvisable for a reputable brand to use gifs that have not been produced by its own creative team. The gif will not have the same look and feel as your own brand guidelines and will detract from your marketing message.
There is, of course, also the issue of copyright and trademark infringement. Just because someone created a gif and it is available from a third party site such as Giphy, Imgur or GifBin, this doesn’t mean you can reproduce it. Avoid those legal issues by using your own well thought and executed gifs.
'Im sorry' gif
What about interacting  with your audience via gif? For example: replying to customers using third party gifs, with an actor saying “sorry”. Unfortunately, it comes across as a bit weak and unconvincing.
There’s also the wider context of the image to consider as well. What happens if this person becomes embroiled in a scandal or the show/film is cancelled/bombs, how does this look to your customers?
The safest bet is to design your own creative gifs to commonly asked questions. This shows the uniqueness of your brand and also that you care about your customer service.
Gifs from third party sites are fine for personal accounts. I love them and we all do. Here’s one of my favourites:
Blinking gif
But for brands, create your own. It shows creativity, a deeper understanding of your audience and allows the brand to stand out from the crowd.
Brands should use their own gifs, as part of their content marketing strategy. But don’t overuse them (yes, I know there’s a few in this post, but I think it can support a few more than usual) and most importantly, ensure you use them appropriately across your social channels.

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