Get ready Twitter - here come the GIFs.
As reported on SMT earlier this month, Twitter has been testing an in-stream GIF option that would enable users to search and apply GIFs to their tweets while composing their 140-character missives - similar to what you can already do in Facebook Messenger and in new social app Peach. Twitter has today confirmed that this functionality is coming, with a post on the official Twitter blog announcing the arrival of GIF search.
The functionality is fairly straight-forward - when composing a tweet or direct message (yes, they'll available in DMs too), users will be able to click on the GIF button at the bottom of the composer window (first image in the sequence below). From there, you'll be able to search by topic, choose the relevant GIF, and insert it into your tweet.
It's a quick and easy way to use GIFs on Twitter - and considering more than 100 million GIFs were shared on the platform last year alone, you can imagine that it will be a welcome and much utilized addition within the overall Twitter experience.
Twitter's new GIF search functionality is powered by two GIF search engines, Giphy and Riffsy, giving them a large, established library of GIF options to draw upon to help users better contextualize their tweets. That element is particularly important in the case of Twitter - with only 140-characters to express yourself, any additional, contextual markers are of benefit (which is why the use of emoji on Twitter has been booming of late). That shorter communications structure, using images in place of words, may actually be part of a wider evolution of language. As more and more people move to use emoji and images along with their text, their use becomes more accepted, and our interactions become more concise. Our messages, in line with our attention spans, are getting shorter and shorter, but are still able to convey meaning - the use of emoji, GIFs and other image options play a large role within that wider interactive trend.
Twitter's new GIF option also marks the second big announcement of the week for Giphy - just yesterday the company revealed that it had closed a $55 million Series C funding round, putting the GIF providers valuation at around $300 million. That, again, underpins the potential many see in GIFs, and Twitter's already considering ways they might be able to monetize GIFs on the platform, similar to how they already do with custom emoji. As reported by Digiday last week, Twitter's looking to unveil a range of product updates between now and the beginning of the Rio Olympics (in August this year), launching them for consumers first, then extending them to advertisers. Those additions are said to include branded stickers (already being used by celebrities) and GIFs, along with tools to enable easier ways for people to create and upload their own GIFs for sharing. The Olympics will be a major advertising opportunity for Twitter, and it'll be interesting to see exactly what tools and options they come out with ahead of the big event (note: another feature announced today was the ability to share videos in DMs).
Starting today, you can capture & share videos in your Direct Messages. It's rolling out globally on iOS & Android. pic.twitter.com/b5CgWyTQ3H- Twitter Support (@Support) February 17, 2016
The addition of an in-stream GIF option really is a no-brainer for Twitter. Data shows that tweets with images can generate up to 313% more engagement than those without, while 82% of Twitter users watch video content on the platform, with the majority of those views coming via mobile device. Given the intersection of these stats and trends, GIFs fit perfectly into the frame - encouraging more GIF use is a great move by Twitter, and one that makes perfect sense.
So get ready for an influx of dancing cats, autoplaying as you scroll through your tweets. They're coming - most definitely, they're on their way.
Twitter's GIF search will be rolling out to all users from today, though it may take some time to become available for all users/regions. The functionality will be available on iOS, Android, and twitter.com.