WARNING: You may be extremely distracted by all these awesome GIFs.
“It’s not funny unless it moves” – a close friend who uses more GIFs via message than actual words told me yesterday.
Now I’m not sure if that statement is 100% true as there are plenty of amazing static images, but he had a point. Shortly after I was at a GIPHY sponsored art exhibit in Soho and taken aback by the sheer number of GIFs projected onto walls and the attendees completely immersed in the experience. I guess I had always seen GIFs more on mobile or desktop, so the sheer scale was impressive.
With the release of the newest iOS, if every iPhone user wasn’t already using GIFs, they’re about to. GIPHY keyboards were popular, so this new update isn’t groundbreaking, but it will create behavior among a new audience – perhaps a slightly older one. Just waiting for my mom to send me a GIF.
So what should you know about GIFs? For starters, the pronunciation. GIPHY put the debate to rest at this year’s Social Media Week. It’s not “Jif” like the peanut butter, it’s GIF, like how you’d say “a gift” without the “t.” Apparently the guy who first invented the GIF actually did pronounce it “jif” but we’ve SO moved past that now.
So why are GIFs so darn special?
- You either get it or you don’t – by this I mean, the re-purposed image is either one you know from pop culture or you don’t. If you don’t get it, it will never be funny. For example, if you haven’t seen the TV series, “Friends,” you just won’t fully grasp the GIF below. So in an odd way, GIFs are a very shared experience among peers – often associated with classic moments, shows and memories.
- In your face again and again – whether it’s a meme with text or not, boy does the repeated motion work. The continuous reel is captivating. And when users find a GIF they love, they’ll send it to all their friends usually separately or in small group messages until they can literally watch it no more. For me, the Shiba Inu “working” is a personal favorite and probably at this point, a funny annoyance to my friends.
- Integrated into everything these days – as mentioned above, the new iOS and integration into social platforms has caused widespread GIF usage. Why tweet out a static image when you could tweet an animated GIF? Just think about your goals and what you need to convey.
I don’t want to forgot to mention how easy it is now for users to create their own GIFs with Instagram’s Boomerang app, for example. It took social-savvy celebrities about a day to realize how fun it is to shake in their flapper-style dresses before it caught on like wildfire. Now that it’s fall, I’ve also seen hundreds of falling leaves across Instagram – a tad boring, but why not?
Jumping onto the trend, publishers are now offering up GIFs as an in-between for static sponsored content and video. For example, Food52 is selling brand partners on recipe GIFs that are just as fun to watch as a video, but probably half the production time and cost.
So as marketers, what are you waiting for? Consider refreshing your social content with GIFs. Whether your brands are ready to invest in their own or plan to leverage popular GIFs on their social platforms, get into the GIF game.