Life is a series of events in rapid motion. Each of us wants our information and we want it fast. Remember those moving newspaper articles in the Harry Potter movies? I bet they amazed and awestruck you, didn't they? What if I told you that GIFs (animated graphics files) work in a similar way. Furthermore, what if I told you that you are missing out on a very cool use for them? Do I have your attention now?
Social Media Marketers and Bloggers need to know GIFs can be used as the ultimate tool for grabbing your audience’s attention. Too many words, pictures, or long videos simply do not have the same effect as an entertaining series of images that convey your message perfectly well to the audience. Furthermore, it involves half the effort of what you might put in while creating lengthy content or a video.
Today, the use of GIFs is so widespread that it is used by people from all walks of life. The internet is flooded with movie promotions, teasers, product releases and comedy all represented through GIFs. If you were to ask GIF creators about the responses GIFs receive, you may just be surprised. The results are much more substantial than average content or videos that are put out there.
With something this trendy on the internet, it is only wise that you as a Social Media Marketer/Blogger should master GIFs as a part of your marketing toolbox . So, to clear any doubt and to make the concept of GIFs as easy as counting, I’m going to walk you through this guide.
1. First, let’s learn WHAT IS A GIF?
The debate on the actual pronunciation of GIFs is one that infinitely ongoing. It can be pronounced as ‘jifs’ with a soft g sound or ‘gifs’, it doesn’t really matter. It is the concept that we need to master to suit our purposes. What the full form actually means is Graphic Interchange Format. This is a file standard in which a file incorporates static and animated images.
To put it in layman’s terms, a GIF is a series of silenced, condensed image frames that is looped together to play infinitely as a single file. Due to its short span, it proves as an ideal tool to fit in the right message, information, action or emotion. GIFs by nature are designed to grab your viewers’ attention. Since the images are condensed this allows for much smaller file sizes as compared to videos.
For those who might think the GIF phenomenon is fairly new, they could not be more wrong. In fact, 2017 will mark the 30th anniversary of the GIF. Now its time to catch up with what you’ve been missing all these years.
2. Why Should You Use A GIF?
By now we’ve established that GIFs hold a higher entertainment factor as compared to pictures, videos or text. However, are they the best option while discussing business values? That depends solely on the creator and his imagination. Now, here are some reasons as to why you should include GIFs in your social media strategy:
- The audience is assured to get your message while also being entertained.
- The use of GIFs shows that your company is up to date with the latest trends.
- GIFs add more contexts to a short post, tweet or message.
- GIFs convey emotions better than photos or videos and in a shorter span of time.
- The use of GIFs in email marketing, significantly improves your click-through rate.
- GIFs are easily shareable.
To get a better idea of how it works, check out the Redbull GIF below.
Now that you have a better idea of the endless possibilities of GIFs, I’m sure you can’t wait to start using and creating your own. Here are some good sites where you might find GIFs that best fit your purpose:
3. Where To Find GIFs:
While GIFs are immensely popular and can be found in every nook and corner of the internet, finding GIFs that you actually like or want to use can get tedious if you don’t know the right sources. Additionally, these sites reduce the hassle for you and make searching for quality GIFs as easy as it can get:
Giphy is the largest and most popular animated GIFs library and for good reason. Chances are that if you want to find any kind of GIF, Giphy will have it. Your search can include an emotion you want to convey (i.e., surprise) or even what you want to be in your GIF (i.e., a baby). Be specific in your search and you will get the most relevant results.
Gifbin.com is another large GIF library. However, this particular site has a few stand-out features. Use gifbin’s random GIF generator if you don’t know what you are looking for and just need inspiration.
Reddit is a great place to find already made GIFs. You can vote for what you like and what you don’t among their assortment. You can also customize GIFs if you know the art of it.
4. How To Create Your Own GIFs:
Finally, it's the part you’ve all been waiting for! Pay attention to this step if you want to bring your unique content to life. It's time to step out of the mundane and take your Social Media game to the next level. How do you create your own GIF?
For those who are addicted to Photoshop and believe it is the answer to all things creative, there is good news for you. You can create a GIF using Photoshop. Here’s how:
- Open your video file in Photoshop.
- Use the timeline tool to crop the length of the video.
- Do not forget to set a forever loop.
- While saving the video, select “Save for web”.
Another easier way is to use one of these readily available online tools to make your GIF. Just upload the pictures you want in your GIF and let the tool do the rest. Here are some good online tools that will help you:
5. Tips& Tricks For Using GIFs:
The Do’s and Dont’s -
Before you decide to venture your brand into the online GIF portal, here are some tips that will want to pay careful attention to. These tips are going to help you reap maximum outcomes while avoiding negative results.
While creating a GIF may seem fun, easy and harmless, the reality of that statement is quite the opposite. Now, lets get a few things straight:
- Make your GIF’s relatable:
Using the right GIF is everything. Pictures won’t speak a thousand words if your audience doesn’t relate to the GIF. Remember, there is no audio. You only use the power of visuals to get your audience to understand the message you’re trying to convey. No audio. The more relatable your GIF is to your target audience, the more positive the response will be. For example, try using concepts such as sports, music, television, movies, etc. Current and popular topics immediately grab their attention. Be wary of using GIFs that are on a completely different theme than your topic.
- Keep your GIF’s interesting:
The main reason we use GIFs and like them so much is because they are fun and interesting. A GIF is capable of conveying things in a short time in a way that your other media cannot. Get creative and analyze the potential for each GIF. Utilize the freedom of creation that is possible with a GIF and keep your audience entertained. Remember, GIFs can be your unique vision. Let your imagination go wild.
- Keep tabs on your competitors:
It is always good to analyze your market and see what your competitors are doing. Have a look at the methods they have adopted to get maximum visibility. Also you need to stay updated with the latest trends. This way you can stay ahead and keep your content current and viral.
- Don’t overdo your GIFs
Too many cooks spoil the broth. That statement holds true here as well. Too much crammed into your GIF is a bad idea, as this won’t only slow down your animation but will also take away the impact that you intend for your audience.
- Don’t replace all your words with GIFs
If Shakespeare decided to paint all his play scenes and Leonardo Da Vinci decided to write all his ideas, their work wouldn’t impact the world as much. Words and pictures hold their own importance. While it is important to use GIFs to help the audience relate better, it is equally important for you to heave written content to support the matter as well. Find the right balance in using both together.
- Know your audience
This doubtless is the first lesson every media professional on the internet should learn. Therefore, it bears the need to be repeated.
If your business is to do with a technical offering, it is only obvious that your audience and the people following you are doing so because of what your business offers them. Therefore, do not experiment and post a lot of memes or GIFs that have no connection to your market. It will potentially lead to you losing your audience. Similarly, do not feed your audience a bunch of statistics and academic content if your content is meant to be about entertainment. Use strategies that best fit your market and to which your audience will best respond.
6. How To Use GIFs On Social Media:
In 2016, Twitter launched an integrated GIF library in partnership with GIF resources Giphy and Tenor (previously Riffsy). Here’s how it works. Whenever you’re composing a Tweet or a Direct Message, you can search and browse the GIF library. Just click the new GIF button to find one that you may want to add. You can search by keywords, or browse by categories of different reactions like Happy, Dance, Funny, Mic Drop, etc. As you can see, you may add a GIF by navigating to the ‘GIF’ button and selecting what kind of GIF you want to share on your timeline.
So now you know how to insert a GIF in your tweet, you need to think about how you would implement it in your social media strategy. Hence the best and most effective way is to use it in an action-oriented post. Consequently, this would be where the viewer is asked to do an action. Use the GIF to strike an emotion and connect with the audience so they get your message loud and clear.
In addition, here are some other ways you can use GIFs on Twitter:
1. Create animated posters for sales or events:
If you are looking to cut budgets and save on investing in an ad, then GIFs are the way to go. If done right, GIFs prove to be very impactful and serve as a highly shareable piece of information.
2. Feature your products:
GIFs prove the perfect tool to advertise your product. Nowadays, brands face the challenge of capturing their audience’s attention while also making sure that their message is understood and all of this in a very short span of time. Therefore, make the decision to share a GIF that best highlights the features of your product, or short instructional snippets of how to use it (if applicable).
3. Visualize your data:
Statistics and data visualizations are key in providing data and facts. Hence they needn’t remain as mere texts or graphs. It is most noteworthy to use GIFs to showcase these figures in a more appealing way.
Facebook didn’t support the use of GIFs until recently. Sharing a GIF on your timeline is easy. Just copy and paste the link to the GIF and wait for its preview to appear. Now post that GIF!
If you are a business looking to boost a post with a GIF, then the procedure is the same as above. Afterward, click on “Boost Post”. Facebook recommends the following for best results with your GIF:
- Use high-quality images or animations.
- Use a link ending with .gif.
- Ensure you use a GIF with file size <8MB.
- Use a GIF with less than 20% text on the body.
- Avoid flashy or grainy GIFs, as chances are your GIF might not be approved.
Keep in mind these few golden rules for using GIFs on Facebook. Here are a few different strategies you can use in your social media strategy.
1. Show behind the scenes:
Audiences love following a brand they know they can trust. As a result, you need work work toward building that good will. Using a GIF you can showcase your brand in a quick, soundless manner is bound to get your viewer’s attention. Feature your employees, offices, and give them a glimpse of behind the scenes events (e.g., PR activities, photo shoots, events,etc).
2. Feature and showcase your products:
Just the same with Twitter, you can feature your products on Facebook. Use GIFs to showcase your products or services and make a unique GIF presentation of how your product works.
3. Share relevant instructional content:
Due to the short attention span of audiences, GIFs prove to be the perfect tool to connect with the audience. Use instructional GIFs or how to videos that are relevant to your brand. Remember this most of all. You only have a few short moments to catch your audiences attention. Make them count.
Finally, you have now completed your first lesson of GIF discovery. However, I am sure your journey is just beginning. I hope you were able to get a clear idea of GIFs and how best to use it to benefit your social media strategy. In conclusion, try to keep up with the trends and exercise all that you know now about GIFs and turn your social media game around full circle.