There are many ways to tell a story, but motion pictures have always been the most emotive, captivating and alluring medium. It is no surprise then, that the humble GIF image format has been adopted by millions on social media for entertainment.

Whether it is snippets of a cult television show or a comical clip with some text overlayed, GIFs make for some fast and easily digestible content. In more recent times, businesses have even started using this type of format in their social media content, to great effect.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though. If you’re not fully clued up about GIFs, then you might be scratching your head a little bit. Thankfully, this post is here to shed some light on the world of GIFs, and how to best employ them on social media. Once you know what you’re doing with GIFs, they are a fantastic way to dole out brand and product information and appeal to your audience’s visual senses.

What is a GIF?

The term ‘GIF’ stands for Graphics Interchange Format, and it is a type of file that can use static or, more importantly, animated images. This allows you to make video clips, without sound mind you, that can be placed in places just like an image. It may sound a little bit weird, but this type of file format gives us the benefit of small, appealing soundless videos that don’t require any sort of video player. Just upload it like an image and you’re golden!

The Benefits of a Good GIF

There are a lot of good things going for GIFs, but the biggest draw is the use of animated imagery. Animated images are incredibly easy for your audience to digest, like an image, but they can contain video content for added appeal.

Thanks their rise in popularity, GIFs can be used on most platforms, including mobile. A quick rundown of the major benefits of GIFs have been listed below:

• Your audience is entertained with great content, while you can convey your message effectively

• Using GIFs makes your brand feel trendy, in-the-loop and willing to have a little fun

• You can stuff more context and information into a tweet or post on social media using a GIF

• Using GIFs in email marketing has been shown to significantly improve click-through rates

• GIFs are easy to post, share and spread a message to a wide audience

Sourcing and Creating GIFs

When it comes to getting your hands on GIFs, there are two schools of thought; sourcing them and creating them. Ideally, you will be doing a bit of both, so we will outline both methods below.

Sourcing GIFs

There are a handful of incredibly sources for GIF content online, especially if you regularly browse the right websites. Some of the best sites for high quality GIFs are:

Giphy

Giphy is the most popular website for high quality GIFs, thanks to a massive library of amazing images. It also features some nifty search features that can help you find what you’re after, like filtering for emotions like ‘happy’.

Reddit

Reddit is a huge online social platform, consisting of subreddits (groups) that feature a wide variety of content. For GIFs, r/GIF is a great place to start.

GIFbin

GIFbin is like Giphy, but with a few additional features. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, for example, you can use their random GIF generator to find something if you’re struggling to find anything good.

Creating GIFs

If you have an idea for what type of content you’d like to see in your GIF, then why not make it yourself? There are loads of ways to easily upload video content and transform it into a handy GIF. Some of the best platforms to do this are:

Imgur, Gfycat, Imgflip, Giphy

Finding the right platform for your set-up will be a matter of trial and error, so give a few of them a shot.

The Art of Using GIFs on Social Media

There are a few rules of thumb to follow when posting GIF’s to your social media channels, so that you can make the most out of your post. Below are a few top tips:

• Use the highest possible quality images and animations

• Try to keep file sizes under 8 Megabytes

• Do not stuff too much text into your animations

Using GIFs across different social media platforms is doable, but there are differences. Below we discuss two of the most popular platforms, and how they handle GIFs.

Twitter

Twitter have really embraced the use of GIFs on their platform, which is great news if you’re new to the game. In 2016, Twitter launched an integrated GIF library in partnership with Giphy and Tenor. This integration has made it easier than ever to incorporate a GIF in your tweets and direct messages. All you have to do is click on the ‘GIF’ button when composing a new tweet or message. From here, you can search through a truly massive library of GIFs for you to use.

Facebook

Facebook are another social media platform that have integrated GIFs onto their platform, but not quite as well. Unlike Twitter, you will need to find your GIF first, then you simply copy and paste the link to your new post.

Conclusion

There are loads of ways to interact with your audience online, but GIFs are by far one of the most popular and easy to digest. Hopefully, this guide has helped you understand the art of GIFs and how you can employ them for your social media campaigns. Whether you decide to make your own or source some high quality ones elsewhere, you can drastically improve click-through and engagement rates with some fun GIFs.