You might not consider using Baby Yoda or sad Pokémon in a digital marketing strategy. Still, a graphics interchange format (GIF) image is one of the fastest ways to share information visually or find out what the latest thoughts (or laughs!) are in pop culture. According to Giphy, a company providing users with animated GIFs to embed in social media posts and messages, the most viewed GIF in 2021 was the stoic expression of Stanley from the US version of "The Office." Together, the top ten 2021 GIFs were viewed more than 4.5 billion times.
There must be something to GIFs since Meta, the parent company of Facebook, bought Giphy in 2020. And, despite challenges from the antitrust regulator in the United Kingdom, Meta continues to fight for the right to keep the company. Interestingly, Giphy never charged for using their apps and does not utilize an advertising model.
So, what are GIFs? They are image files that support animated and static images, often reflecting feelings or actions. It is a highly visual medium for sharing quick bits of information (6 seconds max), replays automatically, and does not use sound.
If accessibility is part of your company culture, consider using alt-text or captions with your GIFs. GIF files cannot encode their highly visual content by text, making it a challenging medium for people using an accessibility tool. Naming the GIF file correctly and describing the images in the alt-text is a good alternative and helps with accessibility and search engine optimization (SEO).
How are GIFs Used in Digital Marketing?
Social media marketing, as part of a digital marketing strategy, is all about engagement and interaction. GIFs can be fun or practical and are easily added to an Instagram story or embedded in a website. Since GIFs are mostly viewed on small screens, you need to consider whether it is the best file format for the message you want to convey. After all, you want the users to watch, understand, and share the content.
Whether or not you use GIFs also depends on the demographics and behaviors of your target audience. Older generations do not generally watch GIFs but might enjoy seeing one now and then and share with friends. However, GIFs, with their short format and relatable visuals, are ideal for Gen Zs and Millennials who will definitely share the content if they like it.
TIP: Giphy offers GIF creation best practices that include limiting the content to less than 6 seconds, keeping uploads limited to 100MB, and using less than 100 frames to preserve content when downsizing or reformatting.
So, with all this information, how can you use GIFs as part of your digital marketing strategy?
How-To GIFs and tutorials
Do you prefer to read instructions or watch a tutorial that shows you how to do something? From banana bread recipes to learning how to draw the perfect winged eyeliner like the singer Adele, how-to videos are the fastest way to learn how to do something.
And though GIFs are not videos, they can be used as extremely short videos without sound. Their shortness forces you to think of the most concise way to communicate the content of your tutorial. Each GIF frame can reveal a new step. And best of all, when the viewer misses something, it will appear again in a few seconds, as GIFs loop automatically. With nearly 100 frames to use, there's a lot of information that you can showcase.
Team member introductions
GIFs can be a lighthearted way to share something about your business culture, values, and people. Is your company passionate about shoes or teaching? Are there colleagues that just light up when they talk about their favorite subject? Consider using them in a custom GIF that you add to emails and other marketing materials. Their passion will translate even better without words and endear followers to your brand.
Is your organization collaborating with another group on a public project? Use GIFs to introduce the team and the aim of the project to the public. By playing repeatedly, an interesting GIF will catch the user’s attention and stop them from scrolling away.
Use GIFs as part of your social media strategy to spotlight products. Are you selling yoga pants? With a GIF, you can use the slow movements of yoga in a beautiful environment with maybe a surprise to catch the viewer’s attention. Home cleaning materials might not always be the most exciting product to showcase, but with some creativity and humor, they can also be turned into a fast-moving and shareable GIF.
Rather than a standard image, try GIFs to make your products appear more appealing to consumers. Choose a caption that captures what the GIF is about, and present multiple products in a slideshow format. A fast, looping GIF that does not require viewers to do anything but watch is a good way to keep their attention.
Alternatively, instead of focusing on multiple products, use the frame-by-frame format to highlight certain aspects of one product. Design the visuals to show the various features of the product. Through research on consumer preferences, you should know which of these features they want to see in more detail - dive into those with a detailed GIF.
Awards and commendations
Winning awards and commendations are a good enough reason to boast. After all, it took a lot of hours, hard work, funds, and commitment to get to that point—and sharing these wins increases a company’s credibility and establishes it as knowledgeable on a subject.
Why not use GIFs to share your awards posts and make them more engaging? There is always enough video material created before, during, and after an awards ceremony that you can use to create a series of GIFs. You can show the winning product or project, and showcase everyone's reactions when they realize they've been declared the winners.
Sales and promotions
When Instagram marketing is part of your digital marketing strategy, GIFs are a smart way to highlight sales and promotions. Consumers committed to your product or service will be following your brand on Instagram anyway—and they will be on the lookout for promotions or sales. Whether you create humorous or stylishly engaging GIFs, ensure your company’s unique style is central to the design. It will stand out in the customer’s timeline and engage them immediately.
WSI is a digital marketing franchise that pledges to face challenges, take risks, and celebrate successes together with our members. Working with us, you have the opportunity to use the insights from our global digital marketing network for your local business. Contact WSI today.