“One small step for NASA, one giant leap for GIFs,” reads a recent article from The New York Times.
The sentiment was echoed on several news sites after the organization announced it opened a branded Giphy channel.
The GIFs are also available on Twitter, NASA explained in a press release:
Users can download and share the agency’s creations on their own social media accounts, and can be used to create or share animated GIFs to communicate a reaction, offer a visual explanation, or even create digital works of art. These GIFs are accessible directly from the Twitter app. Just tap or click the GIF button in the Twitter tool bar, search for NASAGIF, and all NASA GIFs will appear for sharing and tweeting.
The organization is also now on Pinterest. It said:
On Pinterest, NASA is posting new and historic images and videos, known as pins, to collections called pinboards. This social media platform allows users to browse and discover images from across NASA’s many missions in aeronautics, astrophysics, Earth science, human spaceflight, and more, and pin them to their own pinboards.
Why the move to visual social platforms? The New York Times reported:
Part of NASA’s official mission is to educate the public, and the agency has been using new media to accomplish that task for more than half a century, even as the cutting edge has shifted from the TV screen to the computer screen.
Sharing moving and still images was a smart strategy for NASA to connect with younger consumers.
“In addition to exploring the solar system and performing critical and fascinating research on the Earth itself, NASA produces a lot of cool imagery,” Techcrunch’s Devin Coldeway wrote. “And as we all know, GIFs are the best way to enjoy pretty much any kind of visual stimuli.”
It’s a brilliant move on NASA’s part, because sometimes astronauts, rockets, and artistic renderings of space are the only ways to truly express your feels. And as someone who writes about space and who communicates primarily with moving images that last just a few seconds in length, a NASA Giphy account is basically an entire dictionary for me. Plus, I haven’t yet mastered making my own GIFs with GIF Brewery, so this makes life a whole lot easier.
PlayStation engages with “influencers” through GIFs
On Wednesday, Sony PlayStation announced that it had also launched a channel on Giphy, “dedicated to moments of gaming greatness, fails and everything in between.”
A PlayStation representative said:
Tapping into the online language of the next generation of players, the channel has been designed to give gamers a way to express themselves when words just aren’t enough
The company partnered with several YouTube stars to create the available GIFs from gaming moments, and is teaming up with additional YouTube gamers to create more content for 2017.
… YouTuber Vikkstar123 has been challenged to win as many online Rocket League matches in a row as he can, using only randomly generated cars and maps with the highlights being turned into gifs.
Why brands are using GIFs
NASA and Sony are just two recent organizations creating and sharing new types of social media content to connect with younger generations.
In October, The National Archives launched an official Giphy channel.
Partnering with Giphy, the new library contains about 150 moments, including Ernest Hemingway having a drink, the exploding swastika in Nuremberg from the end of the second world war and the Beatles’ arrival in America.
The goal of the library is to bring a new audience into the work of Nara. Each gif links back to the National Archives catalog so users can discover its origins.
The Archives’ staff—similar to brand managers for NASA and Sony—understand that engaging with millennials requires them to embrace newer content types and platforms.
Darren A. Cole, who works in the web and social media branch of the National Archives Office of Innovation, told hyperallergic.com:
GIFs help keep us relevant, but also further the agency’s mission of providing access to our holdings to the public.
As these moveable images become more popular, the pressure on brand managers to take part increases.
These days, we see GIFs just about everywhere. These animated pops of delight are seen in our Instagram feeds, email newsletters, and even on websites. According to The New York Times, 23 million GIFs are posted on Tumblr every day. Facebook gets more than 5 million daily. Slack sees more than 5 million GIFs each month.
Giphy’s active user base is nothing to ignore, either.
In October, Forbes reported:
… [W]hile the reasons for sharing a GIF might be more whimsical than serious, Giphy’s increasing stranglehold on the mindshare around them is not. 100 million daily active users now request a GIF from Giphy across one of its mediums each day, the company says, with Giphy serving up more than 1 billion GIFs overall on a daily basis.
That number would put four-year-old Giphy at 2/3 as many users as Snapchat, which disclosed 150 million global daily active users in September, depending on how you count viewing a GIF as a user action. “Put that next to some of the larger companies in the world,” says chief operating officer Adam Leibsohn. “It’s scale that is pretty meaningful and material.”
There’s good news for digital PR and marketing pros who want to take advantage of the trend. You can join NASA, PlayStation and The National Archives—along with other brands such as General Electric, Disney, Subway and SB Nation—by creating your own Giphy channel here.
How does your organization use GIFs?