Whether you want to pronounce it “jif” (like the peanut butter) or “gif”(like ‘gift’ without the ‘t’) doesn’t really matter, but what exactly is it? And why would you want to use it? And where should you use it?
What is it?
A GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) in its most basic sense is a way of formatting image files, but it is more commonly thought of as a short clip of moving images (an animated GIF). Instead of having a single image or a video, an animated GIF can fill that area in between.
Often they are short humorous clips, such as a corgi going after his dreams by jumping for a ball, a corgi so excited for dinner he just has to cheer or a corgi so busy he’s been running around non-stop all day. Ok, so I am a dog person. Can you tell?
A local community center: “Did you know we have 50% off swim lessons this Winter session?”
A boutique: “We’re jumping into the Fall with a huge sale on coats! Reply and we’ll DM you a special discount code! #exclusive”
A restaurant: “Now serving piping hot Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs for baseball season!”
A community center: “We’re as excited as a corgi at meal time for our Fall Open House this Sunday! Come around to see our latest classes and get a special treat”
A boutique: “Don’t let Black Friday leave you running around like mad, our shop has the best deals all week and weekend!”
A gym: “Winter can give you a bit of cabin fever, but our gym’s got the space to give you the workout you want”
A spa: “Running around all week is exhausting! Make sure your weekend is relaxing with our extended Friday, Saturday and Sunday hours!”
Why use them?
A GIF is a great way to use humorous animated images to express how you feel. An image creates 5x more engagement than just text in social posts and that could be attributed to how they add to your text. Instead of just posting about your new product in the store, include a GIF expressing the excitement.
You’ve been waiting in anticipation and it’s finally here…introducing my new blog into the #blogosphere
— Cami Bird (@cjbird) October 20, 2014
Where can you use them?
Currently only a few social networks have adopted their use: Google+, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram (sort of). Google+ presents them in their original form, the endless loop of the animated GIF similar to a Vine.
Pinterest has user’s press play on animated GIFs, rather than having constant moving images on their Pin board (but when clicked on they play in an endless loop).
Twitter is the most recent to allow GIFs on their network. But they do this slightly differently than Google+ or Pinterest. Twitter allows you to upload a GIF but it converts it into a MP4 video. This allows the animation to load faster and present the same way as a GIF, but is better quality for viewer’s. Like Pinterest, viewer’s must press play on the GIF, but they display in feeds like images, just with a play button (as you saw above).
Lastly, you can post GIFs on Instagram, but not natively. Since GIFs are technically an image, animated GIFs cannot be posted to Instagram as a video but only as a single image .You can download a few different apps (I used GifShare, which was free and currently only available for iPhones) to take the GIFs on your phone and convert them into a video to then post to Instagram. Like Twitter, GIFs needs to be converted into another format, but unlike Twitter, Instagram won’t do the converting for you.
What’s with the dogs?
GIFs are frequently pulled from pop-culture: TV shows, movies and Youtube. Since Welsh Corgis are my favorite dog and internet stars there are numerous GIFs already created from longer Youtube videos.
Can I make my own?
Images have been shown to produce 5x the amount of engagement on Twitter versus text only posts, so why not use humorous animated GIFs in your social posts? You don’t have to stop there, you can use them in your blog articles as well!
How have you approached using GIFs on social?