Creating GIFs that stand out in a sea of content is not an easy task – even beloved properties can easily be drowned out. Hulu is one of the only services that has access to a catalog of thousands of licensed clips and GIFs from some of the most popular series on TV. Hulu sought out to utilize their extensive library of GIFs to promote their vast library of content in a unique way that would engage fans. They wanted to create something that fans would want to share with their friends. Hulu used several techniques to capitalize on the wide range of GIF possibilities, from dynamic grids to three-dimensional movement. Hulu's social media team incorporated these new and unique assets to build enthusiasm for the brand and spread catalog awareness.
Hulu offers an extremely varied selection of programs, including current season shows, hit classic TV shows, films and originals programming. So, promoting that selection with GIFs required special attention to the strengths and user bases of the various sites. While the GIFs were intended to promote Hulu's content offerings, they also needed to showcase Hulu's love for, and devotion to, all things television. Extra care was taken to create GIFs that would resonate with fellow TV fanatics.
When Hulu acquired the Adult Swim and Cartoon Network catalogs, Tumblr was the natural home for promotional content. These properties were already immensely popular on Tumblr, so organic shares were much more likely. However, Hulu had to produce something new and interesting – something fans really wanted to share with their followers. For Rick and Morty, Robot Chicken, and The Venture Brothers, Hulu created GIF grids. These nine panel grids initially formed a single image of the main characters, but after a split second, each panel blinks between various scenes from the show. The overall effect was kinetic, unique, and highly shareable. GIF galleries of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! and Rick and Morty highlighted the array of crazy imagery fans could expect to find in these Adult Swim properties.
In addition to Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook were ideal platforms to showcase content that spans generations. Current shows, like The Flash, have large and devoted fan bases. The Flash GIF, in particular, was designed to perfectly loop, capturing the energy and speed of the legendary superhero. Classic shows are a big part of Hulu's catalog, but because they are added so frequently fans don't always know when a favorite has arrived. To combat this, Hulu created #TBTV (Throwback TV), to showcase perennial hits like 21 Jump Street and Ren and Stimpy. Original animations put a special twist on recognizable imagery.
Hulu's brand campaign this year was a call to action: "Come TV With Us." As a fan of television, Hulu wanted to jump in with the fans and show them that this brand loves TV just as much as you do. On TV icon Ellen Degeneres' birthday, Hulu created a custom GIF featuring a clip of Ellen's famous dancing, to wish the talk show host a happy birthday. Fans who were eager to join in on the fun could post on both Twitter and Tumblr.
Finally, the first season of Empire was a juggernaut that could not be ignored, so Hulu needed GIFs that demanded attention. The answer? Add some dimension. Hulu created dynamic 3-D GIFs that leapt off the screen. The eye-popping effects were a perfect compliment to the flashy nature of the show.
By exploring the possibilities of what can be done with GIFs, Hulu was able to reach millions of fans across multiple channels. The GIFs were led by the TBTV series which garnered 5.7 million impressions. The series was highlighted by GIFs from 21 Jump Street and Ren and Stimpy, which had engagement rates of 2.96% and 3.20% respectively.
The Empire 3D GIFs also reached a wide audience. With fans eager for Empire content, the series had over 3 million impressions and nearly 500 shares across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
The Adult Swim GIF galleries were a major hit as well. They had 1.1 million impressions on Tumblr, with over 2,000 reblogs, and more than 7,500 total likes.
In addition, a number of one-off GIFs performed exceptionally well by capitalizing on buzzworthy moments. Ellen's birthday GIF, for example, saw a 46% increase in engagement on Twitter, and a 39% increase on Tumblr.
The Internet is awash with GIFs, so standing out is always a challenge. By targeting the right type of GIFs to the right platforms, and by building in a little something extra, Hulu was able to successfully promote their content while sharing their love of TV.