For anyone on message boards that utilize them, you’ve most likely seen a Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) image. Imagine your favorite NBA message board, for example. Someone posts that Kobe Bryant is the greatest NBA player of all time. Most people will respond with text saying how accurate or how ludicrous that comment is. Then a user will respond with that one perfect GIF, creating a much more memorable response while standing out as unique and creative.
GIFs (pronounced with a hard “G”) are multiple picture frames encoded into a single image file, resulting in a repetitive loop of an animated clip. GIFs have been the rage on the Internet for a long time as a form of communication and creativity. Today, marketers are paying attention and utilizing GIFs in their strategies to engage with consumers.
There is an excellent video from PBS Off Book that summarizes the history and culture of GIFs. What started in 1987 as simple animated images of flames and waving American flags have turned into vast opportunities for just about anyone willing to make a GIF. Most users can create their own GIFs using tools like Photoshop or Beneton Movie GIF.
Today, two apps are making GIF creation so easy, they are considered to be “The Evolution of GIFs.” Loopcam allows users to create GIFs wherever you are, while Cinemagram is for someone interested in creating more artistic and funky GIFs. Often described as the Instagram of video, users are able to create GIFs with an interesting (and optional) twist—you have the ability to animate a small region while the rest of the photograph stays still. These two seamless and free apps are some new things that could generate a massive increase in the usage of GIF images.
Marketers love when something goes viral. As Ron Mwangaguhunga wrote on Magnet Stories last week, something can go viral if it can, “establish such a strong personal connection that everyone in your audience is inspired to share with everyone they know, using every platform they have.” A GIF, providing repetitive loops of a video, has the power to do this.
Consider Tumblr, an incubator of popular GIF content where users share their images with 50+ million blogs. Using the “GIF” tag (which is usually in the top three of most popular tags on Tumblr), you can find, among thousands of things, a cute dog, trippy cartoons, and even posts with multiple GIFs that essentially recreate a scene out of a movie or TV show. Many of these garner reposts in the range of 100 and 100,000+, showing how much the Internet community loves them.
Earlier this year, marketers finally started getting involved. The website for the new “American Reunion” movie had a GIF creator, where fans could create GIF animations of their favorite American Pie character. The website was a great way to have fans engage and express themselves through their own creations.
Adidas made the home page on Tumblr after they posted an impressive GIF of a soccer player kicking a ball through a stream of water. At the time of writing this blog post, the Adidas GIF had over 28,000 reposts (the same day it was featured on Tumblr’s home page).
With many considering today the “golden age of creativity”, marketers should start paying attention to the present and future status of the GIF. They are growing in popularity every day. If more companies follow Adidas lead, they can create content that has a much stronger engagement and presence than a simple .jpeg image.
If a picture says a thousand words—then consider the GIF to have 100,000 words. Or 100,000 reposts.
Has your business thought about using GIFs at all for your marketing? Do you have a favorite GIF? Let us know and share it in the comments. Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn.
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