Post by @LaurenVosbein
In 1987 JPG and MOV met over drinks. Text showed up. Pixels were exchanged, data was written, one thing led to another, and before we all knew it the GIF was born.
Yep, the little hybrid file that’s not quite an image and not quite a video has been around awhile, yet sprung back to life recently in a renaissance to claim our hearts, make us laugh, and in some cases – of which I am proudly exempt- pee our pants. With its emotional nature and quick wit, the GIF has struck up a modern romance with social communication and brands should take note.
Why it works:
The GIF is quick. Period. In a world of Google Fiber and 4G, our patience for slow is low. (Get outta here, rainbow wheel!) For better or for worse, we’ve reached an age where fast is expected and anything less than now draws out a yawn. So when it comes to the content filtering through our daily social feeds, we’ve got just enough time to absorb a photo, read its caption and move on. The time for posts sans image has come and gone, and our patience weans even for the effort of clicking on a video file, waiting for it to load and watching it play. Enter: a bite-sized story on a 3-second loop embedded into our feeds (automatic play). We’ve got time for that.
The GIF is emotional. Sorry Smileys, we love you, but your cute faces no longer say it all. GIFs convey a mood with movement. They are reactionary responses to a friend’s comment, a big announcement, or the small events in our lives. Need to get up early? Cue a Ferris Bueller grimace. Waiting too long for a friend to show? Cue Honey Boo Boo pout. Reacting to a huge celebrity announcement? Cue:
Eva Mendez and Ryan Gosling are having a baby?!
The GIF is funny. (Arguably it’s winning feature.) Tell me the last time you looked at a GIF and didn’t laugh out loud or at the least crack a smile. When a single moment captured from a popular TV show, movie, or news clip is cut, looped, and captioned to deliver a poignant reaction to an unrelated context, humor is inevitable. The effect is funny! Not to mention highly contagious, which means sharable content.
Why brands should take note:
Relying on your audience to share your content is an obvious goal. What’s more sharable than a GIF? It’s quick, emotional and funny. And it’s growing daily in popularity. For most of its life, GIF has called Tumblr home, and yet in January GIF spread its wings and joined the Pinterest club. Just this month it got the keys to Twitterdom.
These large, social platforms inviting GIFs into their worlds, only proves their value to the social sphere. GIFs are a great vehicle for brands to lift the corporate veil and show their fans some personality. Bravo to the brands that have already adopted the GIF (Fiat, Wendy’s, Bud Light); we like your style and applaud your savvy ways. Catch our attention? Check. Make us laugh? Check. Seem a little more human and a lot more hip? Check. Here’s to the brands that show some skin and let the human behind the logo shine. And here’s to the GIF for delivering value in a way we want it. Brands and GIFs should meet over drinks; there is a lot of ROI to be shared.