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From File Format to All-Powerful: How GIFs are Changing the Way Brands Communicate Online

Trends and Insight 110 Add to collection

Distillery discusses why GIFS are all the hype in the marketing industry today

From File Format to All-Powerful: How GIFs are Changing the Way Brands Communicate Online

Whether they make you laugh out loud or cringe, GIFs trigger and communicate emotions like no emoji could ever do. (Around here, they’re known as “Great Internet Fun”!) But how did these looping images become so popular? What superpower sets them apart from videos? And why are they all the hype in the marketing industry today?

Read on to discover the historical events that led to the current “age of the GIF” and the best practices for harnessing the power of GIFs for your brand.

Born in 1987 as a solution for compressing animated images, today the GIF is the language of emotional expression online. King of the social media world ever since Tumblr popularised its use in 2007, this file-format-turned-meme is now more than ever attracting the attention of brands who want to use GIFs to amplify their messages.

There are many reasons for this. For starters, GIFs play automatically on web browsers and are pretty quick to load compared to video files. They’re also protected by copyright law when removed from the original content source, which has resulted in millions of options for expressing almost any emotion or reaction in the human experience! In fact, that’s what makes them invaluable for giving brands some deep insights into the feelings, attitudes, and opinions of their audiences - in ways that text and emojis simply can’t.

via GIPHY

So, how do GIFs become business? Unsurprisingly, the way Giphy makes money is by letting advertisers place branded GIFs at the top of searches for certain keywords. 

But it takes a little more thinking to go from branded to shareable.

distillery’s own social media strategist Louis de Rivoire shares his recommendations for brands looking to harness the power of GIFs: "Treat this medium differently from traditional ads, where the brand is the star, by focusing on the action and feeling you’re conveying instead of your logo.

"The GIF needs to be usable in an ordinary conversation to convey a sentiment or feeling and help people express themselves, react to each other. So, the brand in a branded GIF can’t hog all the attention. It needs to step aside and let the action be the star, so the GIF remains a GIF instead of becoming a moving billboard.

"And then, there are stickers: GIFs with a transparent background and clear outline that blend easily in different contexts, like Instagram Stories. In fact, Stickers are the only GIFs being pulled out on Instagram Stories at the moment, so don’t neglect them when creating branded content.

And now - a plot twist!

Many GIFs today aren’t GIFs anymore (technically speaking), but videos and images coded to behave like GIFs. Understandably, this makes it tempting to save time by repurposing assets to behave like GIFs instead of making GIFs that are fit-for-purpose.

But don’t GIF up (see what we did there?) GIFs are their own type of media, so in order to truly harness their power, you need to create them mindfully, with best practices and a specific purpose. On Instagram Stories, for example, GIFs are great for highlighting the most important part of your message - your call to action - and will do their job better when made as stickers that blend in easily with images and specifically communicate just one instruction.

Here’s another twist!

Did you know that the only way to animate emails without any action required from the reader is through GIFs?

A 2019 study shows that the average email attention span today is 11 seconds. What do you think is most likely to grab your attention within that time: a static picture and a block of text, or an endless loop of animated images? It’s no wonder that Dell increased email revenue by 109% after using GIFs in an email campaign to announce a new product.

As if reinforcing and enhancing your message wasn’t itself a strong case for adding GIFs in your email marketing, these dynamic images also help brands show how a product works without the need for lots of explanation. (If a picture paints a thousand words, a GIF must paint a million!)

GIFs also boost interaction by triggering an emotional impact that’s universal among viewers. Add a personalisation layer to this magic, and your GIFs can trigger a personal reaction in each one of your viewers, too.

But wait, there’s more...

We’ve developed a tool that makes it possible for brands to hone their messaging precision even further, at scale, and cost-effectively.

voundry, by distillery is a content personalisation engine that renders videos and GIFs in almost real time to help you combine emotional impact with a personal touch in your content and make each one of your fans feel like you’re talking directly to them.

view more - Trends and Insight
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Distillery, Thu, 08 Oct 2020 14:59:20 GMT