GET TO GRIPS WITH GIFs

If a picture paints a thousand words an animated graphic writes an entire novel. These little interchange images catch your eye, make you smile and can tap into the very emotion that you‘re hoping to create.

GIF’s are everywhere these days. Last year more that 150 million GIFs were shared through direct messages and tweets alone and they can work spectacularly well, sending your content stratospheric, whilst standard still images can tank like a day-trip to Chernobyl.

But what’s the big deal? Why are GIFs so popular and how can you use them to liven up your digital marketing? Read our guide to GIFs below and get in on the act.

WHAT ARE GIFs?

Remember those little flip books you had as a kid? Still pictures brought to life through simple motion. Well, GIF’s are a lot like a digital version. GIF stands for ‘Graphics Interchange Format’. They were first introduced in 1987 and their popularity has exploded in recent years.

GIFs look and act like video clips but they have no sound and they’re low quality, compared to high res video. They’re short, sharp, to the point and loop continuously. No play, no rewind, no problem. The internet loves them and here’s why.

THEY DO MORE FOR YOU THAN PLAIN OLD PHOTOS

Marketing messages alone are easily lost and people typically only remember 20% of the text they read, but put that message alongside a great shot and it’s a different story. But static pictures can still be easily overlooked too and they have a more limited scope for storytelling than moving pictures. The truth is that everything is better in motion. If you have a choice between seeing a footballer frozen in time or watching him score the goal and celebrate, it’s a no-brainer.

THEY'RE EASIER AND CHEAPER THAN VIDEO

Don’t get us wrong, video is still big. But it’s expensive to produce, often requires sound and it's more time-consuming to digest. Videos, even short ones, can be too much of a commitment, requiring the user to A) click on them and B) wait for the video to play (yes we know it doesn’t sound like much but it’s a hassle, admit it.) 

Enter the GIF – the perfect compromise. They play automatically, last seconds, not minutes and they don’t take up tonnes of space on your computer or phone. They’re the trailers you enjoy more than the film or the canapés that satisfy you more than the main meal.

THEY SPEAK YOUR LANGUAGE

GIFs have joined the ranks of memes and hashtags to become part of modern culture. They’re mobile friendly and can be uploaded and shared fast. Today all the biggest social networks, including Twitter, Facebook, Tumbler, Instagram and Snapchat are making it easy to get new GIFs and spread them around. (But not LinkedIn's blogs, sadly.)

THEY GET EMOTION

Actually seeing something happen will often get a much stronger reaction than even the most passionate prose. Reading ‘Cat strikes dog whilst travelling on robot’ is never going to be as fun as watching it. (Evidence below)

But GIF’s aren’t literal, there’s huge room for creativity and different interpretations. A popular GIF of an incredulous look could mean genuine shock to some or feigned surprise to others and that’s all part of the fun.

HUMOUR - WITHOUT THE NEED FOR A FUNNY BONE

Brevity is the soul of wit and everybody loves to make people laugh. Trouble is, it’s not always easy. You might be in a hurry or you can’t think of anything funny to say. GIF’s can take care of the gags and leave you to bask in their glow, providing the perfect punchline when your mind goes blank. You might want to jokingly tell your mate that you don’t like their new shirt, but the vomiting girl from Exorcist works so much better...

YOUR CREATIVITY. SOMEONE ELSE’S CLIP

But that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to think creatively about GIFs. The ones you create, select or share say something about you, your brand and your company. But GIF’s give you the chance to choose content that appeals to your audience. Glamorous vintage beauty brand looking to show some love on Twitter? Try an air blown kiss by a pouty Marilyn Monroe:

Passionate Northern rugby team hoping to rally up supporters? Try a 'Game of Thrones' battle cry or rebel-rousing speech. You get the picture.

MAKE YOUR OWN

That said, GIFs aren’t always something borrowed. Many are something new, made by you and for your use alone. It doesn’t take much to make a GIF and you don’t need editing software, or even an eye for film, to make a good one.

If you can take photos or video on your camera phone, you can make your own GIFs and then they can be 100% on-brand. Whether you’re a zoo showing off their new baby giraffe (below) or a baker announcing a fresh batch, every business has a story to tell and GIF’s are the quickest, easiest and most fun way to share that story with your fans.

Read more about making your own GIFs here.

BANG ON TREND WITHOUT EVEN TRYING

As soon as ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ (A.K.A. Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway) committed the crime of the century, by reading out the wrong winner for ‘Best Picture’ on Oscar night, 2017, GIFs jumped on the bandwagon and started stirring things up all over the world, lampooning the situation or using the gaffe to communicate something else entirely.

The world of the web moves quickly and GIFs easily keep up with the pace. This enables your brand to effortlessly tap into the latest trends for free, appear current and relevant to your followers and demonstrate that you understand what’s important to your audience.

 

BUT TAKE IT EASY

You can have too much of a good thing. Overusing GIFs can look inarticulate and flippant or even immature. So, to keep you on the right track, here are our five cardinal rules of ‘GIF Club’:

- Don’t overuse GIFs.
- Don’t use GIFs inappropriately.
- Don’t use GIFs out of context.
- Don’t talk solely through GIFs as a brand.

(And don’t talk about GIF Club)

 

GOOD PLACES TO GET GIFs

Everywhere. Seriously, the internet is crawling with good places to get GIFs Giphy is great because of the huge amount of choice. But there’s also Gifbingif-finder.comgifgifgifgifgif and GIFs from Last Night.

 

IN CLOSING:

GIF’s are emotion in motion, they capture people’s attention, stand out from the crowd and help brands to engage with their audience in a new, fun way. They’re the gift that keeps on giving and they get messages across better than words and pictures alone.

Give GIFs a go this month. Add some personality to your digital marketing and make people smile. GIF’s are great for brands and they could be brilliant for your business. 

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