Ah, the gif. It’s not a photo. It’s not a video. It’s a category in its own right – a file format that speaks loudly to consumers across a variety of social media platforms. The gif has become more popular as a branding tool in the last year, cropping up in the content of companies across virtually every industry.
Gifs, or graphics interchange formats (GIF), aren’t new – software writer Steve Wilhite invented the handy graphic back in 1987. However, the widespread usage of gifs in recent years has earned it a position at the top of the pyramid when it comes to social media marketing. Here’s how companies are using gifs to their fullest potential on social platforms today.
Gifs grab attention better than photographs, as they move around and draw the eye toward them. Yet they are more effective than videos, since users typically do not have to press the play button for gifs to start. Instead, gifs automatically begin and continue to loop seamlessly, displaying the content without the user having to click on anything. Users cannot help but look at gifs, as it is a moving image within their line of site. Ignoring a gif is like trying to block out someone waving their arms in your peripherals – almost impossible. However, when done correctly, gifs manage to capture attention without being irritating like pop-up ads. Gifs are relevant to content, boosting the potency of the message instead of taking away from it.
Captivate the Senses
Sensory advertising has boomed in the last year, with virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) platforms giving consumers a taste of the future. Gifs are a simple way to capitalize on the use of sensory details to capture audience attention. For example, a gif of someone pouring ice cold lemonade into a frosted glass can speak to the user’s sense of taste better than a simple photo, while being cheaper to execute than video. Users respond more emotionally to images than to written content. This is even truer when it comes to video. Gifs are the ideal balance between photos and videos – easier to create than video and more enticing to the senses than photographs.
Educate the User
Users typically take to the Internet for information. Social media is no exception. Social media users are looking for important global news, celebrity gossip, and local/family information. Gifs can provide a source of education without taking up too much of a user’s time. A brand can incorporate gifs to quickly show off new products or impart some piece of information before the user’s short attention span scrolls down for the next bit of news. Plus, gifs loop forever, so users can watch for as long as they like. Educational content is always a solid go-to for social media marketing – especially when it’s in a fun format like a gif.
Make Content Emotional
More and more often, consumers want to feel an emotional connection with a brand. A brand has to be more than just a thought leader or competitively priced company to impress and attract consumers today. It has to be real, personable, and emotional. Gifs are clever ways to make content more emotional, showing short clips of people’s facial expressions to emphasize the mood of a social media post. One Twitter post by Climate Council is a perfect example. The brand used a gif of Brittany Spears making a funny face to complement their post, which mentioned the brand’s reaction to Greg Hunt’s claim that Australia’s emissions peaked 10 years ago.
Optimize for Mobile
One of the many benefits of gifs over video content is that it’s more mobile friendly. A gif has a significantly small file size than an average video, slashing annoying upload time. This makes the user more likely to see the gif and understand the company’s message, rather than clicking away before a video has time to load. The auto loop increases a brand’s message effectiveness, emphasizing one short point in a matter of seconds. Consumers widely use their mobile devices to access social media sites, making mobile optimization absolution necessary. Gifs are the ideal way to incorporate video-like images in social posts for mobile without the hassle of video.
Save Time and Money
Gifs are truly an all-in-one solution for social media marketing. On top of offering attractive advantages over video and plain images in terms of engagement, intrigue, and file size, gifs are also easier and cheaper to incorporate than their video counterparts. Platforms like Twitter are making it easier than ever to insert gifs into posts, partnering with Giphy to make use faster and more convenient. You can master storytelling, appeal to users’ emotions, and cut your marketing budget – all in just a few seconds Do your brand a favor and write in gifs as part of your social media strategy this year. You’ll enjoy big returns for almost no investment while giving users what they really want. If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine the value of a gif!