In many ways, Instagram's continuous evolution is credited to its growing number of partnerships with like-minded brands — take GIPHY for instance. Put simply, GIPHY has risen to prominence as the ultimate destination for all things GIFs. In recent years, GIPHY has also taken its mission one step further with its integration into Instagram Stories, which in turn, cultivates more opportunities for brands and content creators to truly get creative with their content. As a company, GIPHY is no stranger to livening up its own social content which is evidenced in the brand's vibrant feed and humorous tone of voice. At the helm of the GIF and meme magic is Meg Lewis, today's featured PLANOLEADER and GIPHY's talented Senior Social Media Manager. During our visit to GIPHY's eclectic NYC HQ, Meg kindly gave us an overview of her storied professional background, life at the company, and her thoughts on GIFs being an essential tool for social media content in the current digital climate. Meet her in our interview below.
Please introduce yourself!
Hi! I'm Meg Lewis, Senior Social Media Manager at GIPHY. I'm an avid content consumer of all forms (TV, movies, podcasts, YouTube, etc... I don't discriminate!), I'm almost always excited about something, and am passionate about dachshunds, Dwayne Johnson, and cold brew coffee.
Before GIPHY what were you up to professionally, what role did digital play in your job description, and what have been some notable moments throughout your career so far?
Before GIPHY, I worked on the Editorial Social team at BravoTV and was on the front lines of the trending Housewives drama. Prior to that, I worked on the Global Social Media team at Bobbi Brown Cosmetics. Both of these roles, in very different ways, taught me so much about the social landscape. I'm super grateful to have the experience not only building brands and helping dictate the tone of voice, but also learning how to change my approach to social depending on the goal (whether cosmetic sales, driving tune-in to episodes, or just brand-building). In terms of notable moments, there (fortunately) have been too many to count! I have had so many amazing mentors, leaders, and colleagues in the last 4-5 years of my professional(ish) life. What I've learned through all of them, though, is that not only loving where you work but also who you work with, is a major consideration when taking a new role. A common thread, however, to my professional career in social has been the aspect of real-time social content. I've done real-time Snapchat and Instagram Stories behind-the-scenes at Fashion Weeks, on-air interviews with talent, and now at GIPHY, creating content in real-time for every awards show, show premiere, GIF shoot, or trending moment on the internet.
What initially drew you to GIPHY, and before joining, what opportunities did you see to elevate or evolve the company's social platforms? How have you been able to bring those observations to life?
I don't really think you can work in social media without being somewhat fluent in the language of GIFs, so when the opportunity to join the GIPHY team came about, it was a total no-brainer. Ahead of joining the team, I noticed the GIPHY team was creating GIFs with talent in their LA office and NYC headquarters, and yet most of this content was posted without the background knowledge that it was shot by the team itself. Once I joined, I was able to give our Instagram audience a behind-the-scenes peek at these shoots through Instagram Stories. During each shoot, I work directly with talent and the producer to give a glimpse into the shoot itself, as well as any exclusive content that fans would enjoy seeing. Since then, we've expanded into creating custom behind-the-scenes videos for each of our shoots that show the GIF-making process as well as the talent engaging with the GIPHY brand.
Give us an overview of your day-to-day. How much of your role has changed since you first joined the company? Do you have any professional "new year's resolutions" that apply to your work?
A consistent day-to-day at GIPHY is definitely not something you can plan for — and I wouldn't have it any other way! Myself, the other members of the social team, and much of the editorial team spend the majority of the day (and evening) ensuring we're on the cutting edge of pop-culture moments as they happen. Whether we're Live-GIFing a show premiere, meme-ing an industry conference, or working with talent who have created GIFs with us, each day provides us with plenty of interesting fodder to make people aware of the pop culture conversation, and hopefully, laugh! In terms of any "new year's resolutions," I am notoriously bad with keeping these past February 1st. However, this year will definitely be the year we grow our smaller GIPHY branded accounts! We've launched quite a few in the last year to appeal to all niche communities within the larger GIPHY audience (GIPHYPop, GIPHYSports, GIPHYCute, etc.). There is such a wide array of content available on GIPHY, and we want to ensure that we reach everyone with exactly the content they're looking for. Also, I definitely need to drink more water!
Tell us more about GIPHY's partnership with Instagram. How do you think this particular partnership enhances content opportunities for content creators and brands? How do you think it speaks to the collaborative nature of the digital landscape?
I don't mean to overstate it, but the addition of GIFs into Instagram was one of the most exciting things to happen to me thus far, personally and professionally! I think it's an amazing way for people to further animate their every day while getting closer to the brands, shows, and people they love! We have so many amazing partners that quickly jumped on this new opportunity, and seeing how our users are taking this new format to use content in so many different ways has been super rewarding for the whole GIPHY team.
Generally, why do you think GIFs are an important asset or tool to use for social media content? Can you point to an example of seeing a brand utilize GIPHY in an innovative way on social?
GIFs have not just changed the conversation; they've changed every conversation! What was once used to simply react to things has now morphed into a new general way of communication, both on social and in messaging. I may be biased, but I don't foresee a brand being super successful on social without ensuring they are using every type of content to engage their audiences — GIFs included! As far as brands using GIPHY go, we've been so fortunate to partner with a large number of brands on creating content, launching their GIPHY channels, and using social as a way to inform their audiences of the new content! A personal favorite, in particular, is Ru Paul's Drag Race! We have partnered with their team for a while now, and create content for every episode to live on their channel page on GIPHY. Every week, they are amazing at promoting and sharing for their audience, who is always hungry for more episodic GIFs each week! Additionally, they have integrated GIFs seamlessly for their evergreen social strategy as well, ensuring every birthday wish, trending holiday, etc. is met with a branded, evergreen GIF.
Based on your experience at GIPHY, what are your top best practices or tips for companies looking to incorporate GIFs and diversify their social content while still remaining true to their brand?
- Be authentic! Ensure that the GIFs you utilize are on par with your existing content or tone-of-voice! Your social audience will be able to feel pandering content a mile away.
- Be topical! GIPHY prides itself on having "all the GIFs," and even more so, having them as they happen (as much as possible!). The animated nature of GIPHY makes the content that much more engaging, so when posting something of-the-moment, think of how a GIF could lend itself to that "something."
- Be shareable! If you're looking to engage your audience into a conversation, ensure there is something for them to react to that's not only relatable to someone but is something someone would want to share themselves.