Thank God for GIFs

Here’s to GIFs — the world’s new universal language.

I recently took up a job at a company that mainly operates on the Brazilian market. No biggie, you would think, only… I don’t speak Portuguese and that is a biggie when you’re in a communications role.

Among other things, I also hold the company’s social media channels, and boy, those users from Brazil do like to stay in touch! They keep tweeting, posting and messaging us un Portuguese. And they get a bit annoyed if we don’t respond.

Understanding what people say is the easy part: there’s Google Translate for emails, and Facebook and Twitter automatically translate posts. Replying, however, is an entirely different story.

Don’t get me wrong — I am not opposed to making a fool out of myself in my personal communication. When I represent the company, though, I’d like to keep things professional and not post poorly translated messages in other languages.

When words fail you, use pictures

Trying to find a suitable solution, I thought of visual communication. It’s pretty universal and easily translated across different cultures and languages but let’s be honest — a picture does not tell a thousand words, at least not always. GIFs, on the other hand, are an entirely different story.

Fortunately for me, there is a GIF for pretty much any situation today. A client says they love our platform? Here’s how I respond:

Someone is experiencing technical difficulties? Done-zo:

Somebody wants to know how to do something with our software platform? I make a GIF and post it:

We’re showcasing a new product? Here’s a GIF of it:

GIFs are humanity’s most universal language

While I was quite happy with the solution that I found, I was worried that I could only keep this up for so long but so far, GIFs have not failed me. With a little bit of creativity (and searching on Giphy), you can address pretty much any message with an animated image. So much so, that many our users get really surprised that we don’t actually speak their language.

I try to keep things light and fun without being cocky — after all, we don’t want to be perceived as arrogant. And people appreciate that.

They like the fact the we make an effort. They’re happy they are being noticed and replied to, even if that reply is not always 100% useful. They are loyal to a brand that keeps communication going, albeit in a weird, GIF-y form. My work here is done.

So to all GIFs out there (and to the people who keep making them):


Wanna see another GIF? Here it is!