If a picture is worth a thousand words, a GIF might be worth two. They can help tell stories in fun, memorable ways, and can keep a conversation going on social media.
Although they may seem like a new trend, GIFs actually predate the internet. These looped, animated clips were created to share digital images without taking up too much space. They’ve made a comeback in recent years thanks to social media and meme culture.
It’s possible to incorporate GIFs into your own social media and digital marketing strategies. You can make your own GIFs through software like Adobe Photoshop or Camtasia, and there are also plenty of free or low-cost GIF tools available online. These online tools include Animatron Studio, CloudApp, Gifs.com, GIPHY, and Make a Gif.
Even if you think GIFs are too casual, they are important and can lead to clever communication ideas. That element of movement can catch people off guard and invite people in. Consider adding them to an e-newsletter to break up text, using a GIF as a cover for your Facebook page to stand out from the crowd, or including on social media to help create a unique voice.
GIFs aren’t only for fun, either. Consider adding GIFs to a how-to blog post to better show each step or adding GIFs to show data changes.
Keep in mind that GIFs, like emojis and other images, can have hidden meanings. Don’t be afraid to experiment, but do a little homework before you post without thinking. Sites like GIPHY will include hashtags associated with existing images, and that can give you some clue as to how that GIF is used.
Oh, and one more thing: GIF was 2012’s Word of the Year, but the debate continues over the correct way to pronounce it. Since GIF stands for “Graphics Interchange Format” many folks prefer to pronounce it with a hard “g.” However, Steve Wilhite, who is credited as the inventor of GIFs, has said he prefers the other way, which sounds more like “jif.”