Those of you that are old enough to remember the Internet back in the mid to late 90’s will recall when websites (or “homepages”!) were crammed with low quality, animated images.
The file format .gif was originally developed in 1987 by the first major commercial US online service, CompuServe, and despite its limitation in terms of colour and quality, it served its purpose in the dial up connection era.
As Flash grew in popularity and faster connections speeds became more accessible, the .gif had seemingly had its day. However with Flash’s decline (largely due to a lack of iOS device support), the Gif has had a resurgence in the past few years due it being a hassle free way of displaying short, often humorous animations.
It’s not just individuals who are embracing .gif’s either, companies such as the .gif search engine Giphy are emerging and brands are incorporating short animations using this file format in their Online Marketing campaigns.
Here’s what you need to know about using .gifs in your Online Marketing Efforts
For over a decade Facebook has refused to allow its users news feeds to be filled with flashy animations as Zuckerberg thought they interrupted the user experience, which in turn could stunt the growth of the social network.
However back in May it was announced that Facebook was rolling out the ability for users to upload and share animated gifs on their timeline, much to the joy of users who remember being able to do so back in Myspace’s heyday.
Facebook has now taken this the step further by allowing (some) advertisers to now use animated gifs as boosted page posts, meaning that you can expect to see an increasing amount of animations in your timeline in near future.
How To Post An Animated Gif On Facebook
Currently uploading an animated gif directly to Facebook via the “add photos/video” function does not work at this time. Instead you need to upload your image elsewhere (i.e to your website or to an image sharing service) and then paste the URL of an animated GIF into Facebook’s “update status” field.
Currently if you do this to your page, Facebook may show the url of where the image is located, making it look a little unusual, however it won’t if you do so on your personal profile. At the moment Facebook treats sharing an animated gif in the same way that it does as a link, meaning that the amount of users your post reaches organically is unlikely to be the same as if you uploaded a non-animated image (such as a .jpg or .png ) or video directly to Facebook.
If you can’t bear the thought of your news feed being cluttered with animations and videos, go to settings, then select videos and set “auto play videos” to off!
Having previously banned animated avatars in 2012 and having limited support for animated images, full support for animated gifs was launched in June 2014. Interestingly Twitter actually converts the image to an mp4 movie, meaning that a user will have to press the play button in order for the animation to begin.
There are a number of issues when posting animated gifs to Twitter via social media posting tools such as TweetDeck, for the best results post your animation directly to Twitter.
Instagram does not support animated .gifs but you can work around this if you wish to publish short animations to your profile. For this to work, you will need to save your animation as a .mp4 video and then upload that to your profile. Luckily there are plenty of tools available to quickly convert your .gif to an mp4 such as giphy.com.
Using giphy – upload your .gif image and then press the Instagram icon. You will then receive an e-mail with the .mp4 file which you can then upload as you would any other video to your YouTube profile.
Tumblr is one of the fastest growing social media platforms and the leading platform among the highly coveted Millennials. What’s more it’s considered to be the “home” of the .gif and its users are open to (brilliant) brand related content.
You can simply upload an animated gif directly to your Tumblr profile or enter a URL of an image that has been uploaded elsewhere.
Tumblr users love to see and share visual content such as .gifs and a powerful advertising platform will allow your brand to be seen by your target audience. Advertising on Tumblr is currently done via customer representatives and require a minimum advertising spend of $25k.
Like Facebook, Pinterest supports animated gifs to a certain degree. For the best results upload your animated gif to your board instead of pinning a URL of an image so that the image is stored on a Pinterest server.
The image won’t automatically animate, instead the “play” button will need to be clicked in order to trigger it.
Animated GIFs display in email the same way a regular image does: you don’t need to do anything different to add an animated image to your email. This means that there is nothing stopping you from incorporating and experimenting with replacing your still pictures in an email with an animated one and see if your click through rate and ultimately conversion rate improves from utilising them.