GIF Stickers: Best Practices to Capitalize on the Latest Marketing Trend

Opinion: Incorporating GIFs as rewards in campaigns is a natural next step

GIF stickers can help brands turn on the engagement faucet Eloku/iStock

One of the largest and fastest-growing tools in social media marketing today is the use of GIFs. Recently, 69 percent of consumers reported that they frequently use GIFs in personal communications.

GIF (graphic interchange format) images have been around for decades, but they have taken off in the past five years among younger generations that love to communicate online. Millennials and the younger, highly sought-after Generation Z demographic enjoy sending GIFs, which might consist of clips from popular movies or TV shows or memes, in order to convey emotions and reactions that are harder to describe with words. Plus, they’re really fun.

GIFs gain momentum

Recently, GIFs have become integrated directly into the keyboard on users’ preferred messaging services via GIF platforms like Tenor and Giphy, creating widespread use in text messages and other communications applications like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

Following this trend, over the past few years, GIFs have migrated from being used almost exclusively in person-to-person communication to being available to add to more public social media posts. For instance, users can now access a library of GIF “stickers”—or small, moveable versions of popular GIFs—that can be added on top of photos they post to Snapchat and Instagram Stories.

As consumer use of GIFs shows no sign of slowing down, many brands are now finding ways to incorporate popular, trending GIFs into branded communications and content such as tweets, comments and stories in order to stay relevant with their target audiences.

Taking it one step further, with the increased availability of stickers on social media platforms, many brands are now exploring ways to create their own branded GIF stickers that users can add to photos and posts.

A big example we’ve seen of this was from Bud Light. The company launched a series of stickers for Instagram and Snapchat tied to the extremely popular “Dilly Dilly” campaign. These stickers were available to any users who searched relevant keywords and, when used, effectively spread awareness for Bud Light to that user’s following.

Other brands that have recently designed GIF stickers to be used in this way include Red Bull, Jolly Rancher, Gucci, T-Mobile, Malibu Rum and Essie.

Offering GIFs as rewards to increase value

Offering branded stickers for all consumers to use is effective for driving awareness organically. However, brands can add even more value to campaigns that target younger generations of social users by offering exclusive GIF sticker rewards in referral marketing campaigns.

In a referral marketing campaign, users are incentivized to share a piece of branded content—either as-is or with a personal message added—to a particular number of followers and friends in exchange for a reward. In this case, the reward would be a GIF sticker that is available only to users who unlock it, as opposed to more widely available GIF stickers that are already searchable in an existing library on an app like Snapchat.

Many referral marketing platforms support all major social media networks and a variety of communication touchpoints, including text and email. Giving consumers their choice of where to share the message allows for better targeting as they know which connections on which networks would be most responsive. Additionally, campaign analytics offered by the platform give brands a way to track engagement easily across all these touchpoints, providing them a clear picture of which users and networks are driving the most shares, clicks and purchases.

Like many rewards offered in referral campaigns, GIFs are low- to no-cost to the brand, allowing for a greater return on investment. Users who choose to partake in the campaign are in control of providing their personal information, which reduces privacy concerns. Brands can also retain the information customers give to them to target interested individuals in future campaigns.

Additionally, once consumers have earned the brand’s unique GIF sticker, they will likely continue to use it in communication with their friends and on social media, creating additional brand visibility for days and weeks to come, at no additional cost.

Unlike some lifestyle trends that don’t translate easily to marketing or have a hard time taking off, the incorporation of GIFs into marketing campaigns and social media strategies seems to be one that’s here to stay.

Brands looking to increase engagement and ROI should go beyond adding GIFs to tweets and social media interactions with customers. The concept of incentivizing social referrals with GIF stickers is poised to add value to campaigns by empowering loyal customers to spread the brand’s message with friends and followers who will be interested. Incorporating GIFs as rewards in these campaigns is a natural next step to help brands capitalize on a growing trend, no matter the size of your brand or budget.

Herman DeBoard is chief marketing officer at social referral marketing platform Grabbr.