Choosy marketers choose GIFs

It’s funny that a few years ago, people thought GIFs were a thing of the past. Today, you can’t scroll through any social feed without seeing one. Twitter is dripping with them, and Facebook is starting to let brands test 'em out.

Hell, even the House Judiciary Committee is using them in this listicle on immigration policies.

GIF repositories, like Giphy, make it easy for everyone to tweet them, attach them to emails and embed in presentations. It’s like the GIF never went out of style.

Essentially a GIF is just a short video that loops over and over and over. That said, I have a lot of people ask me why they shouldn’t just use videos instead. But, there are some benefits to using GIFs.


5 Reasons To Use GIFs in your Marketing Strategy

WHY you should be using GIFs in your social media marketing

Source: Inside Amy Schumer (Giphy)

Source: Inside Amy Schumer (Giphy)

Easy to Consume

First of all, GIFS can be consumed really, really quickly. They get the job done in seconds. Or, as Mike Isaac of the New York Times said, “GIFs have become a mainstream form of digital expression, a way to relay complex feelings and thoughts in ways beyond words and even photographs...” Well said.

They’re also great for social platforms that offer autoplay without sound (like, everyone), because GIFs don’t need (or even have) audio. They don’t need it to make a point.

Plus, unlike a photo, the motion within the GIF offers a natural way to focus viewers’ attention on your product or point.


Source: Reddit (Giphy)

Source: Reddit (Giphy)

Personality Packed

GIFs make it insanely easy to show off your sense of humor.

For example, anyone who sees the GIFs I use on Twitter will know that I’m a big fan of HIMYM, Harry Potter and classic teen movies.

For people who might have a harder time being authentic on social media, GIFs are a great way to show off your fun side.


Source: CultureNLifestyle.com (Giphy)

Source: CultureNLifestyle.com (Giphy)

Absolutely MESMERIZING!

Maybe it’s just me, but there are some GIFs I could watch for hours.

There's just something about the flow of the format that makes it possible to watch forever...Like this one of Vincent Van Gogh!

See what I mean?


Source: Reddit (Giphy)

Source: Reddit (Giphy)

Image File Format

Although I described GIFs earlier as a short looping video, technically speaking they’re just a series of still image frames coded into one single image file. That means they can be posted places where videos can’t. For example, before Pinterest allowed videos, you could still add GIFs.

One place GIF files still offer substantial benefits is via email, like in your newsletters and e-blasts. Adding videos to your emails makes it more likely they’ll get filtered out as spam for their size. In fact, most mail services, like Mailchimp, recommend just posting a thumbnail linking to your video.

Here’s a compelling argument from Wistia about why you should just link to the video.

But, maybe you want to capture attention with some motion in your newsletter? A thumbnail of a video isn’t going to do that. But a GIF can.


Source: Reddit (Giphy)

Source: Reddit (Giphy)

Easy to Use/Make

GIFs are also really, really easy to make. You can search GIF repositories, like Giphy Buffer Mood Board, Tumblr or Imgur, to use GIFs made by others. Though, I would recommend reading this post on Forbes on the legal use of animated GIFs.

Although there haven’t been any U.S. cases definitely stating whether creating a GIF from copyrighted material is or isn’t copyright infringement, it’s super easy to make your own GIFs.

Now that you know why GIFs are so amazing, let’s talk about making your own GIFs!


How do you say GIF?

There has been sofreakingmuch debate about how to say the word “GIF.” As someone who has to say it in front of large audiences over and over again, I’m sort of tired of seeing half my audience snicker because they think I’m saying it wrong. So, let’s put this to bed once and for all.

According to Steve Wilhite (the inventor of the GIF format), he named his new file type GIF with the JIF peanut butter brand slogan in mind. That is, with a soft G. His coworkers at CompuServe in the 1980s would often say, “Choosy developers choose GIFs.”

GIF. Say it with me…GIF.

6 Ways To Use GIFs in your Marketing Strategy

WHEN you should be using GIFs in your social media marketing strategy

Okay, so now you know why you should be using GIFs. Now you’re probably asking yourself when you should be using them. As Ash Read wrote in this post on the Buffer blog, “Anywhere there’s a message, there’s a chance for a GIF.”

Here are a few ideas to get you started…


1) Repurpose existing content into GIFs.

This option is insanely easy. There are tons of tools that can turn the videos you’ve posted to Instagram, Vine and YouTube, as well as raw video files, into GIFs. Gifs.com is one example, and Giphy offers an entire GIF-making suite of tools.

You can use Giphy’s GIF Maker tool to paste the URL of your YouTube videos and select the part of the clip to turn into a GIF. Then, your GIF is hosted on Giphy and can be easily shared to all your social platforms.

You can also use Giphy Slideshow to turn a series of still images into a GIF, and Giphy’s GIF Editor tool allows you to add stickers, filters and captions.


2) Use as a website background.

Because GIFs can be really subtle and are smaller files than videos, they can be used as a slight motion background to your website to add visual interest.


3) Amplify your customer responses.

Have you ever read a text and assumed the sender’s tone? I am so, so guilty of this nasty habit. Okay can simply mean “Okay, sounds good,” or it can mean, “Okay, asshole.” It’s all in the tone. And we miss that via text, email and on social media.

Adding a GIF to replies to customer questions and comments are a great way to show they’re heard and provide a bit of emotional context to your response, as well as show your personality and sense of humor.


4) Use GIFs in text tutorials.

You know the old adage, “Tell me, I’ll forget. Show me, I’ll remember. Involve me, I’ll understand”? It is so true! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found detailed text tutorials that I had to supplement with less awesome tutorials on YouTube. Wouldn’t it be great if I could find both in one place? On your website, maybe?

I understand that not all brands have approached video yet. Even though I disagree with the idea that video is hard, time consuming, expensive, etc., it’s an unfortunate reality.

Even if you are really, super duper against video (why?), you can at least improve the text-based tutorials on your blog with GIFs.

CloudApp and RecordIt both allow you to easily record a portion of your screen and save the file as a GIF to later post to your blog. This is great for adding value to your blog’s tutorials, like we talked about earlier.

Since I record my own video tutorials, I’m no expert at this, but I really recommend you read the section of this blog post outlining tools to turn screencast videos into GIFs.


5) Illustrate a point.

One of my favorite ways people use GIFs is sort of like a visual, “Amen, sister” on blog posts. It’s like a quick visual that helps people understand where you’re coming from.


How to make a tabletop tripod out of cardboard

How to make a tabletop tripod out of cardboard

6) Show how to do something.

GIFs can also be a great way to show your audience how to do simple tasks. Here’s an example showing how to build a makeshift cardboard tripod for your iPhone.


7 TOOLS To Create GIFs for Social Media

HOW to make your own GIFs for your marketing strategy

In addition to Giphy, CloudApp and RecordIt, here are four more tools to create your own GIFs.

1) GifX

GifX is a versatile app that allows you to add motion overlays to any photo or video on your camera roll. If you buy the pro pack for $4, you’ll be able to export photos and videos as high-res GIFs without a watermark, and it unlocks all the designs available in the app.

2) Burstio

Burstio is an app that allows you to turn burst photos into GIFs. It also allows you to reverse them, retime them, and add a boomerang effect.

3) LiveGif or Lively

Both apps turn your live photos into gifs. LiveGif is $1.99, and Lively is free, but $2.99 to remove the watermark. I usually shoot either video or photo, but if you DO shoot a lot of live photos, this is a great tool for you.

4) GifBoom

GifBoom allows you to add text to videos, photos and gifs already on your phone, and save them as gifs. You can also add multiple photos into one gif using this app. However, you can’t change the font or color of the text.

By now you know exactly why you should be using more GIFs, when you can use them and how to create your own. If you’d like to see a tutorial of the apps I mention, as well as a bonus app (my personal favorite!!!), sign up to get the free video tutorial below.

Face it. GIFs are here to stay. And they are awesome



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hey, I'm Sarah!

I love teaching small businesses and solopreneurs to create better content and incorporate cool tech and tools into their content marketing machine so they can get better results in less time. After all, isn't that what content marketing is for?

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