Video’s silent, repetitive cousin, the GIF, has risen and risen in popularity in recent years. Whether overall shorter attention spans or a higher percentage of Facebook videos being watched without sound are to blame for this explosion in use, you can’t deny that the GIF has carved out its own place on social media. Of course, it could be those damned millennials and their fancy smart phones who are to blame, depending on who you ask.
Previously, GIFs were only seen on sites like Reddit, Tumblr and Buzzfeed, used by people to express their feelings and opinions with a short, looping pop culture reference video.
However, the past few years have seen them crawl into the mainstream of the internet. Social networks Facebook and Twitter were the first to adopt to the GIF. The summer of 2015 saw the arrival of the GIF search engine to Facebook messenger, allowing us to directly bombard our friends with GIFs of cute cats, snippets of TV shows or goofy little animations.
This feature was then rolled out to Twitter in February of the next year. With millennials making up a large portion of Twitter’s users, the image format exploded there. Over 100 million GIFs were shared across Twitter alone that year.
Why should I use GIFs on social media?
Despite being clips that haven’t been created by yourself or your business, they can be authentic and engaging. Since GIFs have become an everyday accessory online, it shows visitors to your page that you are sort of like them. This allows them to connect with your page more easily.
Another reason to use GIFs loops (see what I did there?) back to a point in the introduction. Today’s consumers have a much shorter attention span, and the average length of a GIF is around 2-5 seconds. This makes them a perfect attention grabber when followers are scrolling through their social feeds.
GIFs are transferable to a range of cultures and languages, as they often just convey basic emotions and feelings that everyone has. This makes them easy for your followers to share with their friends. If this sharing takes off publicly, then your post may even go viral. Don’t worry, it won’t give people the flu, but it could spike your popularity and sales!
You can also use GIFs to show that your company is paying attention to on-going trends. There are plenty of weird trends you might have seen pop up on Twitter or other social media platforms. Memes and trends seem to pop up from nowhere and disappear just as quickly, so it’s important to keep an eye on what’s hip before posting something too late and getting face-palms rather than laughs.
You can also use them in comments replying to people, demonstrating good humour and self-awareness. GIFs unite people on the internet, especially a younger audience.
When shouldn’t I use a GIF?
Sometimes it’s not appropriate to use a GIF. Their fun, relaxed nature can sometimes make them seem a bit frivolous. If your business is part of a more serious industry or sector, then it’s not a great idea to be posting GIFs of sneezing pandas. It can make you seem unprofessional, and look like you’re trying too hard to be hip. Even if you are generally a light-hearted company, if you have some serious news to post about – skip the GIF! Seriously, don’t think using a GIF means that you can skip out on text. It’s still important to make sure your message gets through loud and clear.
Just like any other post format, it’s important to not post too many GIFs. People will quickly get tired of them and it will be obvious you’re just posting them for the sake of it. Remember, trying too hard to be cool is one of the most uncool things there is! People come to your page because you have something valuable to offer them, not just to see animated content.
Wow, GIFs seem fantastic, but where can I find them?!
Well you’re right, GIFs are fantastic. I personally use them every day as responses to friends when I can’t be bothered to type out a full reply. There are loads of websites where you can download, or link to, a huge range of GIFs. They are essentially GIF search engines. Giphy, Tenor and Gfycat are some of the biggest ones out there, so they will probably have what you’re looking for.
Alternatively, you can even create one yourselves, converting a video into a GIF. This could be something simple like a team celebrating or doing something silly. A jump in the air or group jazz hands with a company banner in the background is the standard fare. You can also create short GIFs showcasing your products, unboxing them or how to use them. This works best with simpler products, as more complex items will need more detailed instructions, like a video that consumers can pause whenever they want, or a written manual. You can create GIFs using online tools such as Giphy’s own GIF Maker tool, or with video editing software like Adobe Premiere.
If you’d like to talk GIFs with us, or find out more about how we can help boost your social media presence, head to our contact us page!