How an Animated GIF Reached 7.7M Views

By: Amanda Nelson, Director, Community Marketing, Salesforce

January 28, 2019

This is not a clickbait headline. This really happened. As a social media marketer, I was so excited (and frankly amazed) at the results that I had to share them. These numbers didn’t simply occur. It took multiple people. It took weeks. It took planning and research and probably some luck. But at the end of it, and still to this day, the numbers keep rising. So, whether this story will help other social marketers—or just close the curiosity gap of the fellow reader—here’s how it happened.

Amanda Nelson, Director, Community Marketing, Salesforce

We saw the overabundant use of animated GIFs on Twitter and Instagram

One of the most important rules of social marketing is to be where your customers are. That led to my team engaging with customers on Instagram and Twitter. We noted that animated GIFs were a second language on those channels, but used very differently between the two networks.

I’ve found that on Twitter, comments often include an animated GIF. It’s becoming commonplace. This leads to long strings of (often hilarious) conversations filled with GIF after GIF. Sometimes 25 people or more are looped into the clip-filled thread.

Instagram is a completely different beast, but GIFS are still very prevalent. Animated GIFs are used often in Instagram stories. Similar to stickers, users deck out their stories in little high-energy creatures, words and visuals, making them more interesting and fun. 

So where is the massive database of animated GIFs that serve up relevant imagery based on your searches for cats, hugs or pancakes? Being a part of a very specific network means our GIFs are now available to everyone.

The power of GIPHY

This is GIPHY.

It’s the search engine for animated GIFs, not only on the GIPHY site, but across the entire Internet. Getting your animated GIFs on GIPHY essentially gets them into rotation across Twitter, Instagram, or any other site where GIFs like to hang out. That became my team’s new goal.

There was one challenge: We had animated GIFs, but we couldn’t simply upload them. GIPHY has rules and approvals. That took creating a page and getting business account approval. It also meant uploading GIFs in different formats in order to work across multiple channels.


A few weeks later, our business page was approved, our shiny new animated GIFs were uploaded and tagged with relevant, popular keywords (it helped that our GIF was a cat), and we were ready to go. As soon as our GIFs started populating on social media, the numbers jumped. It took only hours to reach 50,000 views. It took a day to reach 500,000 views, and within a week we broke two million. We’ve hit over 7 million in our first few months.

This is our most popular animated GIF:

Animated GIF tips

Here’s a list of best practices and tips to get your animated GIFs viewable to the social world.

At the end of the day, I’m just a social marketer that pronounces GIF with a hard “G.” I’m always testing new tactics, and if one works particularly well, I’ll share it. Have animated GIFs worked for you?

Follow Amanda: @amandalnelson

At The Social Shake-Up