What are GIFs and How to Effectively Use Them on Social Media
“GIF” or “Jif”? This is our generation’s “Tomato, tomahto” – No matter how you pronounce the word, we know that GIFs are here to stay. Luckily, these days people are less concerned with grammar and more interested in the image itself. The beloved file format of millennials has recently become the default tool of web humor, alongside memes and viral videos. They have become so widely-used, the word “GIF” was named the 2012 Oxford Dictionary Word of the Year.
Once considered juvenile and unprofessional, GIFs are now a fully accepted, often essential tool of social media and social media marketing. Furthermore, they are immediately eye-catching and easily shareable across multiple social networks. Whether you are already a seasoned designer or simply search for your GIFs from search engines, animated GIFs can add value to your brand and show off your personality.
Are you ready to animate your social media personality, but not sure where to start? We’ve created this guide to get you started:
What is a GIF?
A GIF (Graphical Interchange Format) is an image format invented in 1987 by Steve Wilhite, a US software writer who was looking for a way to animate images in the smallest file size. In short, GIFs are a series of images or soundless video that will loop continuously and doesn’t require anyone to press play. This repetition makes GIFs feel immediately familiar, like the beat of a song.
Who is using GIFs on social media?
Look around… GIFs are everywhere! Once upon a time, they were only popular on sites like Tumblr, Buzzfeed and Reddit, but in the past few years, social giants Facebook and Twitter have jumped on the bandwagon. In July 2015, Facebook introduced a GIF search engine to Messenger, while a similar search engine was rolled out to Twitter in February 2016. In the following year, over 100 million GIFs were shared across Twitter alone. Taking this into consideration, we think it’s time for all of us to start taking this image format seriously as an effective marketing tool, more specifically on social media.
Why should I use GIFs on social media?
Brands who share authentic and engaging content can create a close relationship with their audience, and the right GIF can be the perfect way to make this connection. The short, looping aspect of this format provides a perfect snack for the attention span of today’s consumers. The average file is 2-5 seconds in length, which makes them perfect for grabbing the eight-seconds of attention you are given, as your followers scroll through their social feeds.
How else can they add value to your business?
GIFs are easily shareable.
GIFs show that you’re paying attention to trends.
GIFs display your fun side.
GIFs can add more context or emotion in a much shorter message.
When should I use GIFs?
These animated wonders bring a dose of youthful entertainment to your timeline. They will not only keep your audience engaged, but will they’ll also keep your brand from appearing too serious. Whether your goal is to build brand awareness, develop a brand personality or create more viral content, here’s how you can say it with a GIF:
Show off your products
GIFs are dynamic, which allows them to show off details and motion that static photos simply can’t. The animation allows for a great opportunity to highlight a key function or feature of your product.
Gamify your posts
One way to use GIFs to increase your social media engagement is through gamification. By making it feel more like a game than a social media post, you’ll make it fun for someone to respond or participate.
Provide visual instructions
If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many is a GIF worth? For how-to’s, step-by-step tutorials or recipes, they are a great way to instruct your audience. Since they loop forever, your audience can watch as many times as they need to fully understand.
Go viral with relatable content
GIFs are easy to relate to, which also translates to shareability on social media. Every social network now makes visual content very large in the news feed, so people are more likely to notice your content and in-turn share it.
Animate your data
This is an awesome way to depict your data in a much more digestible form. Make use of GIFs to add some color and motion to normally-dull statistics.
Provide a sneak peek
Want to build excitement for a future product or your next Wix Video release? GIFS are perfect for a bite-sized teaser.
Share content that makes you smile
GIFs, much like other social posts, don’t always have to be about conversion or sales. We suggest you share some cool stuff sometimes just to entertain your audience. This is really a good practice to stay connected with your visitors and boost engagement.
Reply in style
If you want to come across as approachable, positive and direct, GIFs are the perfect way to reply to your users on social media. If you ever run out of words or emojis, GIFs offer an excellent way to reply to any comment, post, or Tweet in a way that's eye level.
How to make a GIF?
Great news! You don’t have to be a tech wiz to create your own GIFs. You can quickly and easily learn how to make a GIF by uploading your images and videos to any of these online tools:
On the move?
If you would like to make GIFs on your mobile device, we suggest Giphy Cam. This app, available for iPhone and Android, will allow you to record a GIF with your phone’s camera. Once recorded, you can add effects, filters, stickers and text.
Where to find GIFs?
There’s no shortage of places to find them. One of our favorites is Giphy, but there are a ton of places out there, including:
How to post GIFs on social media?
Now that you better understand this phenomenon, you can take the tips we provided and get creative.
Upload to Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest
Animated GIFs work fine as a direct image upload from any device to Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest. To add your GIF, simply upload your image as you would any other image.
Share on Twitter
For a GIF to play inline on Twitter, simply place the link at the end of your tweet as the last links in the tweet are previewed. Once posted, the GIF will animate inline on Twitter!
Share on Facebook
For a GIF to play in the News Feed or on your profile, the GIF link must be the first link in the post. Once the GIF is previewed in the post, you can remove the URL.
By Chase Lepard
Community and Social Media Manager