GIFs: Why are They Popular and How Can Brands Take Advantage?
With WhatsApp soon to be receiving a GIF keyboard, and, both Facebook and Twitter already implemented, the growing trend of GIFs are here to stay, whether you love them or loathe them.
But why has the popularity of GIFs taken off now and how can brands incorporate them into their content strategy?
Retro is Cool
Despite the recent influx of GIFs to the web, the technology behind it is in fact 29 years old (actually older than this writer). Invented by CompuServe in 1987, it was originally designed for compressed and lossless graphics. The compression was extremely important as modems could only send very small amounts of data. Because of their data limit, these tended to be tacky clipart, such as the dancing banana.
Rise of Web 2.0 and the Ease of Personalisation on the Internet
As the internet found its feet in terms of what good web design should be in the early 2000s, GIFs didn’t really have a major role, except in the low numbers of personal web pages or for transferring images via email.
Later, GIFs saw a resurgence on the internet in the form of social media. MySpace, launched in 2005, was the most popular social media site on the internet and, because of the ability to customise your personal profile, GIFs were able to flourish. For many, this was the first time people had a broad range of flexibility to personalise their own space on the internet (by mostly copying someone else’s page).
As social media accounts grew and internet connections became faster, so did the popularity of GIFs. Because of this increase of access speed, the internet became much more heavily focused on graphical content (known as the emergence of web 2.0). This allowed more complex GIFs to appear in the form of cut sections of movies and TV shows.
Present day, GIFs are now as synonymous as emojis in personal digital communication. If a picture says a thousand words, then a GIF can say 100 thousand words. It is this connotation, share-ability and relate-ability that GIFs provide that marketers should harness.
Why Not Use Videos?
Compared to GIFs, videos are relatively time-consuming to your followers and requires their engagement (to press play, sit through an advert, wait for load up times etc). If it takes more than 5 seconds to load, chances are they will dismiss it. If you have a short message that you want to make with minimal fuss, GIFs are your answer.
If you want to have an in-depth message for your audience, then a video will be a better option.
I’m Convinced! But How Do I Make a GIF?
Follow this step-by-step guide.
If you don’t want to create your own, you can use GIF databases, such as GIPHY, to find something appropriate for your campaign.
How Should I Use GIFs?
The content of your GIF you should post really depends on what your industry is, the platform the GIF is on and the demographic of your target audience. GIFs are popular with almost everyone but they have a particular appeal to younger audiences (<30 years old), making GIFs a popular choice for building tool within this age range.
Much like videos and photos, their content and where you place it is entirely up to you. See how other brands have enhanced their social media with GIFs.
However, GIFs should be used in the right context – when you have something really important or very relevant to say to your target audience. Overusing them can be harmful to your follower stats as they could become complacent (known as immunity) or unfollow.
Can I Use GIFs Elsewhere in My Marketing Plan?
GIFs are not just limited to social media. Email campaigns have started to use GIFs to improve click-through rates (CTR). MailChimp, one of the most popular email marketing services allows GIFs on their service, with some reporting a 26% increase in CTR.
Before you use GIFs in your email campaigns, it is good to find out which email providers allows GIFs and compare it to your subscriber’s email providers (found in your services analytics). If they don’t support GIFs, the providers will only show the first frame – so it is important that you are able to convey your message within the first frame.
For inspiration, find out how brands are using GIFs in their email campaigns.
Need someone to inject a bit more excitement into your social campaigns? Get in touch with GLW today.