What is a GIF? Well, whether you pronounce them like “gifts” without the “t” and “s” or like the peanut butter “Jiffy” without the “y”, the chances are high that you’ve heard of these beloved animated images before.
GIFs have been a part of the internet essentially as long as it has existed, but their recent surge of popularity has felt pretty sudden. While millennials were busy killing real estate, chain restaurants, and the print news industry, they were very busy making GIFs a perfectly normal communication tool.
So what’s the science behind the immense popularity of GIFs, and why should you be taking advantage of their casual, fun energy in your marketing messages? We’ll dive into all of that as well as the proper contexts to release your GIFs onto the unsuspecting public without coming off as odd or unprofessional.
Demonstrated by the example above, GIFs typically involve some slight motion accompanied by text.
As anyone who has poured weeks into developing a short video knows, it takes time to create that form of content. While photos are much easier to come by, they don’t usually reach the level of engagement video achieves.
So why are GIFs so popular? Because they’re the easy, beautiful combination of the two mediums.
The movement adds a dimension to your media giving it a stand out ability among static images. And creating them is easy and quick, oftentimes requiring no technical ability whatsoever!
The animation process is so simple, yet it yields highly expressive effects. Which, as it turns out, is really the only reason you need GIFs to work in the first place.
Sometimes they’re silly, but on a psychological level GIFs pack a surprisingly powerful amount of influence. Taking it back to the ancient roots of persuasive messaging, manipulating emotions is a key tool. By making your reader feel a certain type of way, you can build trust, drive home key points, and be memorable! It’s not entirely unlike the science behind emoji marketing, just a little more evolved.
GIFs are a way to quickly express emotions that people can relate to. And they do it by showing, not telling.
Selecting a GIF also demonstrates something concrete about the identity of the sender. Are you hip, funny, clever, quirky? By capitalizing on the common bond of pop culture, you can forge a sense of universal relatability between your brand, and your consumer. You can even cross social and cultural boundaries by utilizing material developed to relate directly to the demographics you want to reach.
Another reason GIFs are a great communication tool is because they are inherently shareable. You want to create deliverables (or takeaways) for customers that will encourage them to share. Adding on a GIF is a fun and easy way to create material that is far more engaging and thus likely to be shared.
Curious about putting these ideas into practice, Dell conducted a case study where they converted a product image for their convertible laptop into a product GIF and make it the focal point of one of their email campaigns. At the end of their campaign they saw a:
When determining if you should or shouldn’t use a GIF in a text, ask yourself the following questions.
1. Is this primary or secondary communication?
If you’re adding extra flair to a message, a GIF can be the perfect flourish. Think of it like a visual form of emphasis. However, you don’t want to use a GIF as your primary form of communication. For example, when Youtube responded to a reporter with a GIF instead of a professional “no comment” response, it rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. You don’t want to let the implied emotions of a GIF be the entirety of your message or else you risk coming off a little glib.
2. Are you reinforcing your brand messaging?
If you’re looking for a way to bring emotion to your brand’s mission or vision, GIF it up! Experiment with substituting a GIF for a detailed call to action (CTA) and measure how your audience responds.
3. Are you telling a story?
Again, storytelling is the perfect place to slide in a GIF. It’s an extra visual that makes material more memorable for readers and an easy way to practice “show don’t tell” content creation.
Other compelling contexts to use a GIF include:
With SimpleTexting, adding a GIF to your text message is easy. It only takes four steps!
Your recipient will receive the full-size GIF in the body of their text message, just like it appears below!
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