How Outride.rs uses GIFs as its language for members (and reached over 5 million views)

Love Speech | Outriders | Screenshots of Outriders Instagram Stories

Preset #2

You are reading this case study about Outride.rs on Outriders Mixer – so to avoid confusion here it is a little explanation. Those are sister projects. Outride.rs is our publication. The Mixer is where we share our know-how and also our work for other creators by providing tools, consultations, events, and so on. 

What happened?

Outride.rs created a set of GIFs on Giphy, which allows users to use them on many other social media platforms if searching for a specific hashtag. All GIFs were hand-drawn and animated, which made them very unique, and they are part of a more significant theme #LoveSpeech –  which is a special language created to debate polarising issues. It allows debate, critics but on the foundation of mutual respect. Since the end of October 2019 with the support of Outride.rs’ community, partner media and many influencers the GIFs have amassed over 5 million views. 

#LoveSpeech is both a campaign and a toolset for people who want to debate issues respectfully. Tools cause a growing base of GIFs creating new variants in which people who use them can engage in social media discussions. And the campaign, instead of advocating against hate speech, is giving community tools to be constructive and hopeful.

First step

This project has three origin stories. The term, the first idea of #LoveSpeech was born a couple of days after the brutal murder of Mayor of Gdańsk Paweł Adamowicz in January 2019. He was a target of many online hate attacks and brutal propaganda from government-controlled state TV in Poland. 

The project waited to find a proper form, and a catalyst came from Engaged Journalism Accelerator, where one of the objectives as Ambassadors Outride.rs was supposed to experiment to engage the audience and partner with other media.

So that leads to a proper foundation of what #LoveSpeech – which was based on a simple notion “enough of anti-hate speech campaigns, we have to do something opposite”. We also based it on the notion that if we give people easy access to use tools, they will use them. If you remember how many used to buy illegal copies of DVDs with movies and music before streaming platforms provided an easy way to access them – it’s the same assumption. It’s not people’s fault; it’s a problem of tools. We know that social media platforms live off engagement, and nothing generates as much as negative discussions. 

So the initial frame was:

  • it has to be easy to access,
  • where people actually have problems with hate, online harassment,
  • so within a tool they already use
  • if we can go cross-platform – that would be great

And we found a perfect solution for that – Giphy, which is used by most social media platforms as a database of GIFs.

Why Giphy?

Let’s stop here for a second so we can give you a background on why we went this way.  

Every day, around 500 million people send gifs via GIPHY, the largest service of its kind, integrated directly with Instagram. Communication using GIPHY tools is 4.8 times more engaging than via traditional forms. GIPHY has also become one of the most used search engines in the world. During the World Congress on Information Technology 2019 in Yerevan, Armenia, GIPHY co-founder Alex Chung announced that his search engine is the second biggest, just behind Google. What’s more, the idea behind the beginnings of GIPHY is very similar to the one behind the Love Speech – universality and willingness to communicate.

“It all started with a strange philosophical conversation about language, about the fact that we only have a few words to talk about love in every language and maybe a few emojis. And there are a million other ways to express love. And there was no way to send or communicate this type of expression to other people.” – said co-founder Alex Chung during an interview at WCIT 2019 in Yerevan, Armenia.

Global campaigns using gifs have so far been implemented by brands such as Amazon, Starbucks, Skittles, Pepsi, McDonald’s, Snickers, Bubly, Burger King and Dunkin Donuts. However, there was no large social campaign carried out exclusively on Instagram in Poland. Despite the ever-increasing popularity of the platform, it is still a new space for marketers and social organisations that has not been used so far in this type of projects. We decided to use gif stickers because it is a tool that we all use. Gifs are universal and understandable despite the cultural or geographical differences that divide us.

Moreover, we all associate them well. You know – gif = something positive. And such positive associations we should have with the public debate. We should be willing to talk and exchange views. 

Initial dictionary

We started with the following “word” and “phrases” which were turned into GIFs.

  • No hate zone, just love zone
  • I was wrong
  • I appreciate your opinion
  • I can’t agree, but …
  • I understand
  • I respect your opinion
  • It’s good to talk
  • The goodness is where the love is
  • Special gifs
  • Let’s talk about it

…and we began 🙂

The campaign

On October 3, 2019, one and a half weeks before the parliamentary elections in Poland, we asked the Outriders followers on Instagram, what would they want to improve in terms of the public debate? 

A day later, #MowaMilosci [#LoveSpeech] gifs appeared on Instagram, and the users of Polish Instagram were invited to use them and share their thoughts on the state of public debate in Poland. 

The goal of the “Love Speech” campaign is to restore the language of mutual respect and understanding in the public discussion and above all, to restore the willingness to talk to each other despite different opinions and seemingly dividing differences.

The campaign was joined by both friendly editorial organisations such as Magazyn Pismo and Dwutygodnik but also by influencers – Nishka, Troyann, Miss Fereira and Dobrze Wszędzie. Regular Instagram users have also started to use gifs, not only about our initiative but in their daily stories.

Growing the #LoveSpeech dictionary

A key element of making the whole initiative successful is to make the audience create it too. Users are not only encouraged to use gifs but also to discuss the level of social debate, show good examples and propose ideas for new gifs. The Love Speech dictionary is continuously getting bigger.

Instead of focusing on coverage, the number of publications or AVE – which is still popular – user involvement and the number of gif views were also the indicators of the success of the venture (the goal in the first month was 500,000 views). They were the ones to confirm whether the idea is effective and successful among recipients.

Currently, the most popular gifs are:

Readers requested for a GIF to honour Olga Tokarczuk winning the Nobel Prize in Literature. The gif has been shown 38,000 times so far and was very willingly used both on the day the Swedish Academy’s decision was announced, but also on the Nobel Week 2019.

Learnings

  • A long-term Instagram campaign is not a simple undertaking. We reach a broad audience, and that’s why we noticed that we should not stop at the first GIFs package. It should not be too big at the same time. We should propose new GIFs every month and thus keep people interested and reach new people at the same time.
  • What made the campaign effective were graphics used in GIFs. They were diverse, visually attractive, and at the same time, universal enough. They were using multidimensional symbols such as the Earth, heart OR home that are willingly used not only in the context of the campaign but in regular user accounts (where they tag us).
  • Following it, we also started using #LoveSpeech GIFs in regular entries to emphasise their universality even more.
Our Instagram open call for new gifs ideas
  • It’s a good thing to launch the campaign together with other creators and invite them to create their own GIFs proposal along with their community. In this way, creators more willingly use “their” GIFs.
  • The key to increasing the coverage of GIFs was to use other popular hashtags (not just #LoveSpeech) to describe them, which allowed reaching a group of non-fans around the world.
  • GIFs prepared as RTM were also well received although we had some doubts at first. However, the introduction of a GIF to honour Olga Tokarczuk winning the Nobel Prize in Literature (56 044 Views), as well as a GIF referring to #StayatHome (PL version 16 017 Views, EN version 26 254 Views) allowed us to reach people who had not known about the #LoveSpeech campaign before.

Future

The fight against hate speech is a serious matter. Still, social campaigns devoted to it do not really have to use pathos and traditional or even old-fashioned tools and exalted narrative. The goal of this fight, as the Outriders team believes, can be achieved by internalisation of attitudes and by underlining the mutual respect for the love speech. Not by condemning the hate speech. Most people admit that hate speech or a simple online quarrel are inappropriate phenomena, but they happen all over again. Instead of stigmatising, love speech wants to remind you how to support others and disagree with them in style.

If you think this is the right approach:

  • go to Instagram Stories today, record the account and show appreciation to someone by using our Love Speech gifs.
  • we will continue the campaign – we are looking for a partner, international media to take it global. If you want – please reach out and mail us!