If you have ever spent more than 5 minutes on Google Plus, you have likely encountered dozens of GIFs. A GIF is an animated image – a “moving picture”, as many inexperienced users call them – that runs on a loop, generally no more than a few seconds long. The GIF has exploded in popularity, especially on social media sites such as Tumblr, where it is entirely plausible to have a logical conversation in a thread that consists of nothing but GIFs. Recently, the GIF has taken over Google Plus as well. On any given day, it is almost guaranteed that you will find several GIFs on the “What’s Hot” page of Google Plus. For more on this please utilize this resource: How to Share Gifs on Google Plus.
So why is the GIF so popular? There are a number of reasons, all of which are important to consider for anyone who is looking to improve his or her online presence. For businesses, the significance of the GIF might be increased ten-fold. No matter what social media guru you ask, the Golden Rule of increasing your social media authority is this: get engagement. And what better way to engage with people than by using something that will catch everybody’s eye?
The GIF is Simple, Efficient Marketing
When it comes to marketing a product, it ‘s often the case that simpler is better. We’ve all heard the repetitious whining of scientists and parents alike that the average attention span is shrinking, and while the reasons for that are hotly debated (too much TV, the evils of the Internet, overmedication of ADHD, you name it), the bottom line is true – as a whole, Americans only pay attention to content for so long.
As a result, consumers are more responsive when they are handed their information in short, digestible pieces of content. If that content is entertaining, it’s even easier to swallow. So if you deliver a message to your customers in a GIF, the format will be incredibly effective for both catching the attention of your audience and making the information stick.
The same concept is used in commercials all the time. The commercials that are most effective are those that pack a punch in their 30-second time slot. A prime example of this is the virality of certain commercials during the Super Bowl. When there are that many commercials during a program that all have the potential to captivate an incredibly large audience, it is truly survival of the fittest. In order to stand out from the rest, commercials must differentiate themselves from each other in a way that takes advantage of these principles of human psychology and can drive a message home. The commercials that end up going viral are those that can convey something quickly, simply, and memorably.
As you can imagine, GIFs can use these same principles to have an advantage over the other mundane posts that are found on different social media sites. The bottom line is that people are more likely to pay attention to an advertisement that delivers the information in a flashy and clever fashion. If you saw a post with a moving picture beside of a post with a generic stock photo, which one would you pay more attention to? If you want to get more attention on social media read over this resource: Google Plus Help for Local Businesses.
GIFs Are Viral Content
As previously mentioned, it’s highly unlikely that you haven’t come across a GIF at some point in your Internet surfing career. This is because GIFs definitely have a viral quality that makes them incredibly sharable. For example, social media sites like Tumblr and Reddit have taken off in popularity over the past several years. The heart of the engagement on these sites comes from people who create and post GIFs in a way that is creative or humorous. The GIF has become a way to share things that people are passionate about, like television shows, movies, celebrities, nature, or art, in an engaging fashion.
The same trend has been picking up steam lately on Google Plus. GIFs are all over the social landscape of Google Plus, often making the What’s Hot page and sometimes garnering over 10,000 +1s. Again, this can be attributed to the fact that GIFs can tell a story in less than a few seconds.
It should also be mentioned that GIFs are entirely soundless, thus differentiating them from videos or clips that are shared on social networks such as Vine or Instagram. This soundless quality is another thing that contributes to the GIF’s virality – while there will always be a need for video, there can be multiple GIFs on a person’s timeline at once, without a jumbling of different sounds (and without the startle that often comes with auto-playing videos). For more on how Instagram is being used check out this article: The Psychology of Instagram.
While Facebook and Twitter currently don’t have the capability to host GIFs on their networks, it hasn’t halted the popularity of the GIF whatsoever. In fact, larger corporations like Starbucks have been using the GIF in entirely new ways. For example, Starbucks has a text messaging service that sends 1 to 2 GIFs per week to its subscribers. These GIFs normally incorporate a Frappuccino in some fashion to go along with whatever promotions are happening that week. These texts have been well received with Starbucks customers.
UPDATE: Twitter now offers moving pictures or GIFs in the Twitter feed.
GIFs Are Easy to Make and Easier to Share
Of course, a clever marketing technique can be tossed aside if it is too time-intensive or costly. Someone could tell you that an elaborate commercial with space aliens and motorcycles will get you more sales, but if you don’t have the actors, equipment, and funds to make that possible, it won’t be a viable marketing option.
Luckily, this is not the case with GIFs. There are tons of websites that exist with the sole purpose of creating a GIF, such as gifmaker.me or makeagif.com that drastically reduce the effort it takes. For example, a car dealership could use one of these websites to make a GIF of a Ford Mustang commercial and then share it on social media to encourage engagement. You don’t have to be technologically savvy to create a GIF of your very own.
On the flip side, if your company already has a graphic design consultant on staff, you can make high-quality GIFs that are original and highly specific to your business. Because of the flexibility of this form of content, you can put in as little or as much time and resources as you would like.
There are many people who work in social media management who have found these tips to be incredibly beneficial when improving a client’s social media presence. If you are unsure of how to get started in social media or how to incorporate the GIF successfully, hiring a social media consultant with experience in viral marketing will likely prove to be advantageous.
If you want to improve your business’s social media presence on Google Plus or other social networks, these are tips that could cause a dramatic spike in your engagement. It has been proven time and time again that the GIF is well received on the Internet and has the tendency to go viral before most generic photos will. It is definitely something to consider when writing your next post online. Learning how to get customers on Google Plus and other social media websites may change the bottom line of your business.
If you still have any questions as to how the GIF can benefit your business, or how to write clever social media posts that will attract clients, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.