The Quick Guide to GIFs Jennifer Taylor November 6th, 2015 4 Ways to Enhance Your Content With GIFsToday’s consumer has access to multiple screens and a perpetually updating stream of new content. Every minute Twitter users send over 100,000 new Tweets, Facebook users share 684,478 pieces of content, and WordPress publishes 347 new blog posts. How do you make sure your content cuts through all the noise? GIFs.“In today’s fast-moving mobile-centric world, visuals are easy to understand, eminently shareable, and can be used to tell stories and evoke emotions that are much harder to do with words” writes Michelle Linn of the Content Marketing Institute. We’ve already discussed how to incorporate images, infographics, and video content into your content strategy. However, let’s not neglect one of the internet’s oldest and most beloved image-video hybrids - the Graphics Interchange Format - better known as the GIF.The Birth of the GIFThe GIF is essentially a digital version of the zoetropes of the 19th century. These short, animated, looping graphics first appeared on the internet in 1987, and quickly gained popularity. You may remember GIF classics like the dancing banana from the Peanut Butter Jelly Time video or the animated “under construction” banners that lived all over the web in its earlier days. by Jen Taylor In the early 2000s Web 2.0 was introduced, and GIFs temporarily fell out of style. However, it wasn’t long before the bizarre medium resurged, quickly re-gaining popularity on Tumblr, and spreading to blogs, email, Reddit, Twitter, and Facebook. The GIF is the perfect hybrid, capturing “more attention than an image without demanding the commitment of a video.”by Jen Taylor How can you use GIFs to capture your audience’s attention and take your content to the next level? We’ve put together a few ways to incorporate GIFs into your content marketing strategy so you can leverage the benefits of this medium.1. Add some personality to your contentThe value of GIFs lies in their ability to “express these really complex emotions in the span of two seconds” explains Lucy Dikeou to the New York Times. The looping graphics also draw on a variety of cultural references that range from Seinfeld to Grumpy Cat, allowing users to express a greater range of emotion, get creative, and be clever. GIFs are therefore a great way to inject stale content with a little bit of personality.Finding the perfect GIF to encapsulate a specific emotion is part of the appeal of the medium, and brands are beginning to leverage this trend to relate to Gen Y and Z. These demographics use GIFs as often as they use emojis and plain old text. Gen Y and Z are also value authenticity when it comes to branding and GIFs offer brands an opportunity to showcase their sense of humor or get creative and play on cultural references. Millennials and digital natives will appreciate their DIY feel, the clever references, and the brand’s willingness to be playful.Google is one brand that made headlines after cleverly using a GIF to respond to a Daily Dot reporter looking for some insight into the company’s new YouTube livestreaming plan. Instead of responding with a canned comment, the Google spokesperson send a GIF of a young girl. The response showed some personality and playfulness, making them relatable and distancing them from the “corporate” image.by Jen Taylor 2. Create compelling educational material and tutorialsGIFS are more than just cute animals, memes, and clips from your favourite shows. They can also be used to animate tutorials, product demos, or support material. Use GIFs to add a visual component to a tutorial or customer support page and condense several steps into an easily digestible 5-second GIF. This will help you deliver information more concisely to your audience while also keeping them engaged longer.GIFs can also be used to inspire your audience and provide them with new ways to use your product or tool. This will help you draw in new consumers, while also keeping existing customers and potential brand ambassadors engaged. Samsung Mobile took this approach on Twitter, using a GIF to draw attention to their newest mobile device while also teaching customers how to enter Power Saving Mode on their phone. Samsung Mobile@SamsungMobileYou just HAVE to send one more GIF on Twitter before your phone dies? Switch to Ultra Power Saving Mode. #GALAXYS5 http://pbs.twimg.com/tweet_video_thumb/Bqbm8IkIYAEHWXS.png2:06 PM - 18 Jun 2014ReplyRetweetFavorite3. Bring data to lifeGIFs help guide the viewer’s eye and keep audiences engaged longer. Brands and news outlets are beginning to leverage their ability to capture the audience’s attention by using them to animate maps, concepts, diagrams, and data to make difficult or dry material more digestible and engaging. NPR recently used this strategy to explain the rise of ISIS in in Iraq and Syria, explains Buffer, taking the GIF genre far from the memes and jokes it’s typically known for. by Jen Taylor 4. Create engaging email marketingFinally, brands are beginning to see the value of GIFs in email marketing. With so many emails flooding our inboxes every day, how do you make sure your email stands out? GIFs can be a great way to highlight your call to action or direct audience’s attention towards the key message of your email.According to an A/B test conducted by BlueFly, emails with embedded animated GIFs earned 12% more revenue that emails without the animated visuals. Dell’s email newsletter Marketing Sherpa also revealed that GIFs can increase the click rate by 42% and the conversion rate by 103%.Kate Spade used this technique while launching their Joanie handbag collection. Their email GIF displays all the colour variations the bag comes in while also using the bright colours to grab the viewer’s attention.by Jen Taylor To GIF Or Not To GIF?When using GIFs businesses and brands should be careful when using GIFs in blog content or on social media. Many GIFs feature clips from TV shows, films, commercials, or copyrighted characters and footage. This makes them liable to copyright infringement and susceptible to takedown notices. Only a few weeks ago the NFL made headlines when it asked Twitter to take down GIFs featuring content from its football games. Marketers should therefore exercise some caution when using the medium in marketing materials.A GIF Is Worth 1000 WordsAs humans we process visual information much faster than written content, and we are much more likely to remember it in the long-term. Visuals are therefore extremely powerful tools for brands looking to stand out in our multi-screen multi-tasking culture. As a hybrid between images and videos, GIFs are the perfect way to liven up any email, inject some personality into content, or create more engaging data. Are GIFs part of your marketing strategy? Have you seen any great examples of brands using GIFs in their content marketing? Share them with us at @scribblelive!