We’ve all seen them. Those repeating video clips with funny text that have got you giggling under your breath at work. Animated GIFs. Even though this type of file has been around for over 25 years, it has gained increased popularity thanks to the social media site Tumblr. Why should you care about GIFs? While GIFs are used mostly by computer geeks and bored teens, they are playing an increasingly large role in viral marketing and online memes.
Exactly what is a GIF?
A GIF is a type of image, created by combining a series of images or video clips into a single GIF file. The verb, GIF, means to create a GIF file of (an image or video sequence, especially relating to an event). As in, “he GIFed the highlights of the debate.” A GIF captures just enough of a moment to illustrate emotion, often in a humorous manner.
Why would I use it?
Video is the fastest growing form of online communication.
Text is getting far less effective online because it takes too much time and effort to consume. However, videos are quick and easy for viewers to watch.
A GIF can be a great way to convey a call to action.
Attention spans online are limited. If you don’t grab a viewer within the first few seconds, he or she may move on. GIFs only last for a few seconds, allowing your message to be conveyed quickly. For this reason, they can be a great way to convey a call to action.
Animated GIFs have an emotional impact.
If you want to really get your audience to believe your message, you have to play to their emotions. Many animated GIFs are humorous spins on video clips or images. While humorous GIFs may not be the most professional of video types to use, you don’t necessarily have to make yours funny. Just make sure it adequately conveys the emotion your want your viewer to feel.
You might consider using a GIF on your home page to grab attention quickly, in an email marketing campaign, or to creatively illustrate a process. Take a look at some companies who are using GIFs in their marketing strategy:
- Tiffany & Co embraced the animated email by using a GIF that changes the text it displays.
- Dogfish Head brewery showcases how they make their strawberry-honey-flavored ale with animated GIF.
- Hubspot uses a GIF on a landing page to illustrate an ebook.
Fun Facts You Didn’t Know About Animated GIFs
- The first animated GIF was created in 1987. The GIF turned 25 years old last June.
- The word “GIF” was added to the English dictionary in 2012.1
- The oldest GIFs were mostly of flames and waving flags, but among the most famous GIFs today are Nyan Cat and Epic Sax Guy.
As the online world continues to move towards graphics and videos to convey information, it’s important to stay on top of what’s trendy. While GIFs have been around for many years, they have become increasingly more common in recent years. However, there are not a lot of marketers taking advantage of them. Photos and videos continue to be popular ways to market, but using a GIF allows you to stand out among the crowd. Many social media sites, such as YouTube, Tumblr, and Facebook, allow you to post animated GIFs, so there’s no excuse not to share them!
Want to know how to make one yourself? Stay tuned for the upcoming blog post! Sneak peak: it’s easy.
1. Netburn, Deborah. “GIF (v.) bests YOLO as Oxford dictionaries’ U.S. word of the year”. Los Angeles Times. November 13, 2012. Retrieved April 10, 2013. (http://articles.latimes.com/2012/nov/13/business/la-fi-tn-gif-oxford-word-of-the-year-20121113).