Published: 20 November 2015

How can GIFs help to increase engagement to your charity’s cause?

At Scope, we’re always looking for ways to engage our social media audiences more.

Our ultimate goal is always to increase their interest so we can nurture long-term support, and change society for the better.

Keeping on the ball when it comes to social media

The social media landscape is fast-paced; a constantly evolving and changing beast. Sometimes it can be hard for charities to find the resources to keep up with everything that’s out there. Weighing up time spent trying out new channels that could generate very little reward, versus using tried and tested methods that we know work, can be a tough call.

To tackle this, we decided to do some bi-monthly innovation testing, to experiment with ideas in a way that isn’t too time consuming. We'll test an innovation for a short period of time, and log the results which we can build up into a bank of useful resources.

Our first innovation experiment: using GIFs.

Previously, we found we got an average of 0.93 responses per tweet to our text-only replies on Twitter. We really wanted to try and beat that.

We decided to experiment by using GIFs when replying to tweets where appropriate, to see if we could increase engagement. We ran this experiment for six weeks. Here's what we did.

We always like to surprise and delight supporters, so it was great when we got reactions like this (click the pic.twitter.com link to see the GIFs):

It’s a lovely way to express emotion in a way you just can’t get across with text:

And it’s nice to show appreciation when people are complimenting you:

Our current #EndTheAwkward campaign lends itself to some great reaction GIFs:

It’s good to find relatable GIFs to complement people's tweets:

So what were the results?

We were pleased to find that engagement with our reply tweets increased to an average of 1.64 responses per tweet – a 76% increase!

It also helps our tone of voice – we want to come across as approachable, positive and direct, which can be tough as a large organisation. Little touches like GIFs can help. They also make our Twitter feed stand out more. The time taken to find GIFs is minimal, so it's definitely something we'll continue to do. 

It was also lots of fun and a morale boost for the social media team. A quick look at someone's profile can tell you what they are interested in, and you can find a GIF they'll really like – the Great British Bake Off or Disney perhaps. It's encouraged lots of very positive interactions with supporters, who really appreciate the personal touch.

There are some great free resources that make finding a specific GIF to use very easy. Giphy is our favourite, but there are lots more. You can also easily make your own GIFs on Imgur, which is useful if you want to create bespoke GIFs using your own charity films. For us, it’s on to the next test.


Jennifer Urwin, digital community and social media officer, Scope

Jennifer Urwin is digital community and social media officer at Scope, the disability charity. She works on Scope’s social media channels, growing its online community, writing blogs and creating meaningful, useful content to raise awareness of the issues that disabled people and their families face.