While video has become a must-have tool in content marketing across the internet, one best kept “secret in plain sight” is the opportunity to utilize animated images called GIFs. Similar to short videos, animated GIFs can leverage the power of movement to attract attention in a very short time.
A GIF, or graphics interchange format, is a type of image format that can move or be animated by combining several images, or frames, into a single file.
If you asked me how to pronounce it, I would say “gif” as in “gift”, but what’s interesting is the founder/creator, Steve Wilhite, told the New York Times we are wrong and that it’s actually pronounced “jif”.
Does it really matter? No! People use both pronunciations.
But it does matter that you know how to use the animated GIF, so that’s what this post is all about. 🙂
What’s So Great About Animated GIFs?
Invented in 1987, GIFs have become a mainstay in social media. You can find animated GIFS already built-in as an option for social networks like Twitter.
Animated GIFs are great because they are:
- Easy to design as snack size content
- Fun to share and view
- Simple to find using existing sites (see below)
- Excellent for making a point
- Absolutely hilarious…most of the time
You will find animated GIFs in email, slide decks, and your daily social media feeds. They’re quirky and they are everywhere!
Where to Find Animated GIF Resources
Of course, you don’t have to spend a lot of time to creating your own animated GIFs. You can find them all over the internet and in most cases, they’re free to use.
Here are a few quick spots you can find GIFs:
How to Create Your Own GIF
Having these ready-made resources is great, but what if you want to create your own branded animated GIFs? It’s easy when you have the right tools.
You might consider using an animated GIF to promote an event, to display humor, or simply to get a point across.
Here are 3 tools that I love and they take only minutes to create your GIF.
- Gifs.com – Their tag is “GIF anything in seconds”. I recommend creating a free account so you can easily go back to find GIFs you created. You just add a url to a Youtube or Instagram video, for instance, and it lets you convert a section into a GIF to which you can then add special effects.
- EZGif.com – Similar to Gifs.com but not as appealing, this site also does the work of converting MP4 videos into a simple GIF format. You’ll find they offer other conversion services too.
- GifDeck.com – This was a neat find I just started using recently. It lets you paste your existing slide deck from Slideshare into the site and converts your slides to a GIF. Very cool!
There are plenty of other tools across the internet to make your own GIF but these are easy, quick and free.
To use your awesome animated GIF, most social networks will let you simply upload the GIF as you would a regular photo. But note Facebook has a bit of a different way of doing this.
On Facebook, uploading your animated GIF makes it appear as a still image. So you’ll either need to create your own and upload it to another hosting site, or find a GIF you like on Tumblr, Imgur, or Giphy.
The next time you’re trying to come up with ideas for snack-size content that captures attention on your social media, try using your own GIF or borrow one from an animated GIF site.
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