Using GIFs in Digital Marketing Campaigns: All You Need to Know

The graphics interchange format technology dates back to 1987, but marketers are still finding creative ways of integrating these moving pictures into their online campaigns. In fact, GIFs have steadily risen in popularity in recent years. For the marketer, a GIF is an excellent way of capitalizing on many of the benefits provided by video at a fraction of the cost while drawing much more attention than a static picture. Some of the other reasons to include GIFs in a marketing campaign include the following:

  1. GIFs convey emotion and meaning.

glasscaseofemotionWhile pictures and words can convey emotion and meaning, the audience must usually do some work to decipher the intentions of the marketer. Unfortunately, people do not always have the time or motivation to do this. A short, animated depiction takes the work out of the equation. Typically, people use GIFs to make others feel amused and therefore happy; therefore, they are a great option when marketers are looking for a way to associate positive emotion with a brand. GIFs also excel at showing the human side of a brand and developing its distinctive voice and personality.

  1. GIFs tell a story.

Much of marketing involves telling a story, through which potential customers begin to imagine themselves using a company’s products and services. While videos are the classic vehicles for these stories, GIFs are a much shorter and more accessible medium. Audiences have very little time, so they are more likely to watch a five-second GIF than a five-minute movie.

  1. GIFs break patterns of repetition.

breaking the patternSometimes, online marketing campaigns fall into very repetitive patterns. If teams see that certain pictures, movies, or posts invoke the best response, they will tend to continually recycle this same sort of content, which becomes very boring for anyone following the brand. GIFs are a great, and perhaps unexpected, way to break the pattern of repetition and inject something fun, exciting, and new into an online campaign.

  1. GIFs are part of the Internet culture.

Since the early 2000s, GIFs have been a key part of Internet culture, but they have become even more mainstream in the last few years because of their prevalence in social media. Using GIFs can show that a brand is hip and culturally relevant, especially if the GIFs are tied into current events or if they speak to trending topics.

  1. GIFs work on several platforms.

After creating a single GIF, brands can use it for promotion on a number of different websites. While Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter are probably the most popular social media platforms for GIFs, people can use GIFs on virtually any other network, not to mention proprietary blogs and webpages. Also, GIFs are smartphone friendly because they have small file sizes and load very quickly.

  1. GIFs are borrowable.

borrow gifBrands do not always have to feel pressured to create their own, unique GIFs. According to GIF library Giphy, there are about 150 million GIFs that brands can use. Also, a research team from The New York Times tried to estimate GIF postage to popular sites and found that people exchange about 5 million GIFs via Facebook Messenger daily and post 23 million GIFs on Tumblr each day.

How Does a Brand Make Good Use of GIFs for Marketing Purposes?

While it is clear to see that there are many benefits for incorporating GIFs into an online marketing campaign, it is perhaps less obvious how exactly these moving images fit into a campaign effectively. After all, most people have probably seen examples of websites where everything seems to be moving for no reason whatsoever. Overdoing the GIFs, or using ones that simply do not make sense for the brand, will not win over any customers. To figure out how to use GIFs most effectively, companies need to think about what they want these moving pictures to do.

Sometimes, GIFs are meant to grab a user’s attention. A beautiful background that changes slightly because of GIF animation can be a great way to attract someone’s interest in an e-mail advertisement. Other companies may want to use GIFs to highlight their most popular products, either by showing them in motion or by animating some text surrounding them. A great way to use a GIF is to animate just a key part of an otherwise still image. This slight animation can surprise and amuse potential customers enough to make them pay attention to the rest of the content. Marketers can use these techniques on blogs and websites, as well as on social media outlets.

Depending on the culture and personality of the brand, it may make sense to share funny GIFs that are somehow relevant to the day via various social media outlets. If the brand wants to foster a playful, conversational tone, then a GIF about Mondays can put a smile on people’s faces as they head into work after the weekend, and an inspirational GIF on Friday mornings can get people through that last day of work before they can relax and enjoy a break.