Breathe New Life Into Your Social Media Profile: GIFs As Storytelling Art Form

Visual micro content (VMC) is driving forces of engagement these days. Clips and GIFs in the social web are as popular as never before. And I am not talking about the creation of memes.

More and more brands are discovering GIFs, clips and cinemagraphs as fine art and a new way of storytelling. Movable imagery recently became a popular marketing format, which is easy to digest and really stands out in social media feeds.

“Yay” for being a photographer or visual engineer with tons of material on hand. Shame on you if you aren’t involved on social networks yet. Visual content marketing is the way to advertise your photo business, create leads and drive sales in 2016. Why? Gen Y! On a global scale, 64% of the web traffic are videos.

For the young audience, VMC is the digital answer to TV spots; small bites of information and entertainment. Instead of producing a 30 seconds spot try creating 30 spots lasting a few seconds to appeal to a number of buyer personas in your target market.

But beware of producing VMC just because you read it’s trendy and Facebook, Twitter or Google provide the technology. Each cinemagraph, clip or GIF needs to fit into your overall social media strategy: What is your communication goal? Whom do you want to reach? What can they learn from you?

Once you have the answers to all these questions, start planning VMC in your content calendar and make sure you optimize your visual material for each social network. Facebook’s algorithm will reward you with reach if you upload a video there instead of posting it as (YouTube) link. Twitter content has an ideal size of 506x253px.

For details, check out this always up-to-date social media image sizes cheat sheet (Google spreadsheet).


Useful resources — DIY:

Useful resources — Libraries:

Useful resources — Inspiration:

I gave it a try myself with GifMaker and a series of photos I took in Auckland a few years ago. You might want to go through your archive too to see if you can leverage some old photo series today.


If you like this post you might also like Adobe Post: Create Beautiful Free Social Media Images In Minutes

Adobe Post: Create Beautiful Free Social Media Images In Minutes


I think I might have just stumbled upon one of the easiest to use photo apps since a long time to create eye-catching photography event invites, Pinterest album covers, newsletter graphics, text posters, Twitter cover images, Facebook ads…you name it.

With Adobe Post (currently available for iPhone) you are only a few taps away from professional looking designs with your own photos or photos from a huge library of creative commons pics. Within seconds, the mobile app allows you to change sizes, layouts, colour palettes, fonts and photo filters.

To give you an idea of what I am talking about, I took some of my favourite inspirational travel quotes to create a new edition of this old post within 50 minutes (including the research for creative commons images and playing around with my customization options = 10 minutes per image).

The easiest way to get started with Adobe Post is to make use of one of the suggested templates, which you can personalize to your liking.


Once you get hooked, you will probably go ahead and see what Adobe Post can do with your own photos. You can upload them from your camera roll, Lightroom, the cloud or take a new shot with your mobile device’s camera.

After finishing your edit — and this is the cool marketer’s stuff — you can easily change the (social media) format of your creation and switch with one tap between Facebook cover image size, Twitter post size, YouTube thumbnail size, LinkedIn cover size, Instagram square format etc. Most of the time the app works really neat and crops your image or relocates your texts and shapes in a way that won’t require further adjustments.


Here are a few tips of app features I discovered by chance (no tutorial):

  • zoom in and out of an image with the pinch-to-zoom move
  • rotate an image with the two-finger-rotate move
  • the last item you create will be the foreground layer; previous items move in the background (creating with that in mind will save you time if you want to overlap text and shape layers)
  • tap several times on a single colour palette icon to try all its different looks
  • tap several times on the “text spacing” to resize shapes you may use
  • tap on “text align” to switch between all caps and big/small letters
  • you only need to share the app once on social media to unlock exclusive fonts and shapes
  • you only need to email the app once to a friend to remove the #AdobePost hashtag

I hope you find the app helpful for all your coming social media endeavours!

If you like this post you might also like RollWorld: Spin It, Warp It, Scroll It, Zoom It — Create Tiny Planets And Abstract Art On Your Mobile Device

The Social Media Image Frenzy – Panel Discussion

If you are in Auckland on October 22 and interested in either photography, or social media, or social marketing, don’t miss the following event. I’m sure you won’t regret it — I attented almost all Social Media Club Auckland (#smcakl) meetups during the past 1.5 years and I can truly recommend their monthly panel discussions.

22 October, 6 pm to 8 pm (check your timezone for the live stream)
Where? Vodafone, 20 Viaduct Harbour Avenue, Auckland City (New Zealand)

What? Every minute of every day, we share millions of images online. The image is the new visual language of the moment. But by doing so, has privacy become an old-fashioned concept as we become our own gossip columnists, and celebrities bypass the traditional media to become their own press agents?

And with so much noise how do professionals source and sell images when you are one among billions? While we are busy instagramming, pinning, facebooking, and tweeting our daily lives, are we simply creating a commodity for the companies that use facial recognition tech to scan our streets and social media posts to fill big data tanks on how we eat, live, look and think?

Join us as our panel discusses the new distribution models, how to break through the noise, how the social media image frenzy is changing the way we use and share images, and the implications of tracking technology.


  • Arran Birchenough – Senior Account Manager, Getty Images
  • Bradley Ambrose – Professional news and adventurer photographer
  • Associate Professor Mark Sagar – Director, the Laboratory for Animate Technologies, University of Auckland
  • Ricardo Simich – Editor of Spy the Herald on Sunday

How? Reserve your free ticket! Then join the social media savvy crowd at 6 pm for hot pizza, cold drinks and inspiring discussions! Can’t make it there? Join their live stream online (which puts you in charge of pizza and drinks)!

If you like this post you might also like Track The Success Of Your Instagram Content Strategy

Track The Success Of Your Instagram Content Strategy

UPDATE — 4th of May 2015: Due to the Iconosquare rollout on April 28, which caused social media specialists without Instagram budget to panic a little (and which was rolled back on May 2), I had a closer look at additional free Instagram analytics tools. Head over to this blog post for more. It surely won’t hurt to be prepared with a set of different tools to analyze your Instagram followers and engagement rate in case Iconosquare still switches to paid only services in the near future. For now, all statistics described below can again / still be accessed for free!

Since most social media marketing blogs agree that Instagram will be “the king of social media in 2014”, or at least they consider a visual content strategy as the right thing to do this year you might be interested in getting a brief overview what Statigram (Update: As of April 23, Statigram is now Iconosquare) can do for you. You should read this if you’re a target focused numbers guy – or if your boss is – and if you are motivated to boost your website traffic or (photo) sales through Instagram.

Statigram / Iconosquare is a third-party Instagram webviewer for your PC that, once connected to your Instagram account, analyzes your profile activity and coughs up a few metrics, charts and graphs of interest that I am going to explain to you with a few screenshots from my private Statigram / Iconosquare account.

Curious? Visit Iconosquare and connect your Instagram account for free to get started.

Once you are connected, your “Viewer” page is loading all the content you can basically find in Instagram as well: posts from your friends, your media, your followers, your followings, your likes and also the most popular photos on Instagram right now. I usually don’t spend much time on that summary page though.

I prefer to drill down the “Statistics” tab instead.

The first interesting feature on the Statistics “Overview” page is your score card for follower engagement on your last photo or video (big number on the screenshot below) and the average engagement based on your last 15 media posts (small number).


Engagement Score Card

Let’s say you have 1,000 followers and reach the numbers above. In that case, your last post was liked by 228 of your followers and 128 people who don’t follow you; it generated around 60 comments, though I’d recommend to take that number with a grain of salt as Instagram / Iconosquare counts each comment, even if you made it yourself to thank your followers for their comments or to fill it with a few hashtags to get found.

What to do with these numbers?

According to this Buffer article, for every 1,000 followers you have, you can currently expect about 37 interactions per photo. 37 out of 1,000 is 3.7%. In other words, you can expect about 4% of your followers to like or comment on your photos. If you reach scores like on the screenshot above you know you did very well and you’ve found a piece of content people love. Publish more of it!

If you are constantly below the average 4% you know you need to change something about your photo quality, or image descriptions, calls to action or even your strategy.

The second interesting feature I want to discuss can be found on the “Rolling month analysis” page. It’s a more visual presentation of your most engaging posts and a growth number which indicates at a glance if your photos perform better or worse than during the previous month.

Statigram engagement

Does your engagement rate increase or decrease?

The screenshot above was taken in the middle of March. However, two of the analyzed photos were posted in February already which leads me to the interpretation that you’ll always get an engagement overview for the past 4 weeks compared to the 4 weeks before that (rather than a comparison between March and February).

Since February and March were some good months for me to head out and get some photography done – Auckland lit up in rainbow colours; I visited the film set of The Hobbit; I climbed Mount Taranaki – all my engagement numbers went up quite a lot. I did not only gain more likes and comments because I posted more photos, but the average number of likes and comments per photo increased by almost 10% and 24% respectively. I was pleased to receive a few questions about my trips and glad I could offer advice. Note to myself: I need to do more mountaineering to keep my Instagram engagement rates high!

Your “Rolling month analysis” page also allows you to sort all the photos you ever posted by number of likes or number of comments, which makes it super easy to keep track of your most and least liked media.

The “Content” page will give you a brief overview over your own posting behavior.

Turns out I publish more photos on Mondays than on any other day, and I usually do so around 12pm or 6pm (surprise, lunch break or after work). But all of this information wouldn’t be of much value without the “Optimization” tab on which Iconosquare offers a chart comparing your posting habits with your followers’ engagement habits.

Statigram post times

Find out the best times to post on Instagram

The dark circles indicate when I posted photos during the last 90 days (repartition by hour horizontally, and by day vertically). The light grey circles show when my followers have been interacting more (big circles) or less (small circles or no circles). The biggest light grey circles are therefore the best times for me to post.

To be honest, I am currently not making much use of this chart for my private photo account. I just get my stuff out when I have time for Instagram – including time to look at the profiles of people I follow and catch up, like, comment myself. After all, Instagram is a SOCIAL network.

However, from a marketing point of view this chart could be of high value if you plan a new content campaign which requires a lot of engagement. Apropos engagement, the “Optimization” page has another interesting curve to offer: the average lifespan of a post.

Post lifespan on Instagram

My average post lifespan on Instagram

This graph shows how fast your community comments on a media you post. It also shows after how long you can usually consider that a post will not receive any more comments. Again, this curve is based on your activity over the past 90 days.

Unsurprisingly, most of my photos received most comments during the first 2 hours; there is a small peak for hour 4 after publication and hour 12 after publication. I am living in New Zealand but I do have a bunch of followers in Germany, my home country; they usually check in while I’m asleep and vice versa. Some posts still generate comments after 24 hours, but it’s safer to say that most of my Instagram posts have a lifespan of 12 hours. That’s huge compared to Facebook (3 hours) and Twitter (15 minutes).

The “Statistics” tab and all its sub-pages offer you a few more numbers and charts. Today, I introduced you to the ones I find most useful myself. If you have any questions about the rest feel free to ask in the comments below. I’m happy to help.

If you manage Instagram for a company, Iconosquare is a great way to grant access to all administrators through a web browser, no need to have a smartphone or to use your private phone for work matters. The “Manage” tab sends a notification when there is an unread comment, and you can directly reply, delete or post a new comment within Iconosquare.

If you are an advocate of simplicity you probably prefer to use as few tools as needed to manage all your social network profiles. In that case you’ll be happy to hear that Iconosquare can be integrated in your existing HootSuite dashboard. I expect more social media management tools to follow soon.

And of course, Iconosquare offers you a few tools to promote your Instagram account on your blog or Facebook fan page. I personally made use of their “Snapshots” feature depicting my best moments on Instagram in 2013.

If you like this post you will also like Acronym Galore: #jj, #gf, #wu, #rsa, #whp, #ic & #owu on #ig