GIFs have been around for a while on the Internet.
But it seems like they have recently become more of a staple in our lives.
Maybe it’s because we use our phones more than in the past.
Maybe it’s because we have faster Internet connections than in the past.
I don’t know, but those little moving images have really become something and that includes on social media.
What Are GIFs?
GIFs are image formats that have actually been around for 25 years.
What we normally see today are animated GIFs where short little “videos” appear. They’re often very simple, but incredibly fun.
They’re often clips from famous movies and television shows, but there are also a number of original GIFs that people have created from their own videos.
Why People Like GIFs
This is hard to say, but I think the old saying about pictures applies:
A picture is worth a thousand words.
Now I don’t know about that, but GIFs, like static images, have the incredible ability to express feelings and thoughts in a way that many words couldn’t.
And who has time to write out a bunch of words when a GIF could express the feeling much faster both for the creator and the viewer?
Then there is also the fact that reading is wonderful, but you are only getting text. With GIFs you get the entire visual experience and thus usually more depth in what is being expressed.
Alright, so now the question becomes how you can use GIFs to boost your social media efforts.
Step 1. The Art Of The Funny GIF
For the most part, GIFs are used to make people laugh. They express humor in ways that words cannot.
That doesn’t mean that sharing funny GIFs is easy. Even the best GIF sharers on social media have duds. They share what they think will be funny GIFs and they hear crickets.
But the best also don’t let that bother them. They learn from those duds and also learn from the successes. And over time they build followings based on their skills at sharing GIFs.
It seems the best with GIFs are able to really key on the topics that their followers are most interested in and then they tap into the emotion of that situation and topic with a GIF.
Here is an example: The Packer Ranter
I like the Green Bay Packers. I follow a number of reporters on Twitter to get the latest Packer news and information. But I also follow a few fans that have some good insight into the team.
The Packer Ranter is different in the most wonderful way.
If you look through the profile you’ll find a number of GIFs.
I liked this recent tweet:
Key to victory this week: Less of this. pic.twitter.com/cZl2Q6NBFZ
— The Packer Ranter (@PackerRanter) November 18, 2015
A recent issue for the Packers has been receivers dropping passes.
So instead of reading the usual article about receivers dropping passes, The Packer Ranter found this GIF and shared it. Instantly it takes the situation and makes it funny while still communicating what the issue is.
That replaces a 600-word article on dropping passes, makes it funny and makes it something you can share with your own followers.
Step 2. Commit To Regular GIF Sharing
Like anything in life, you’re only going to see results if you commit to doing it consistently. You won’t get results if you share one GIF. Well, you might get results that are positive, but what’s the point if you only do it once?
With social media, the key is looking for improvement over time with building followers. You’ll have times when you’re gaining more followers than others, but the key is to stick with the plan and if the plan includes GIFs then it takes commitment.
Step 3. That’s Really It – No Big Secrets
There really are no big secrets to using GIFs. I think it’s just about taking the common situation that your followers care about and finding a GIF that expresses the way your followers are feeling.
Here is what you can do to find GIFs. I just went to Google and typed in “animated GIFs” and there are tons of sites you can use to find GIFs. The best will have a really good tagging system so you can quickly search for an attribute for a GIF you want to find and it will come up.
Like with the girl dropping the ball earlier, I searched for “ball drop” and that was the first image that showed up in the results.
Or this one on how Packer fans have felt lately:
Firing up some Packers' highlights from yesterday… pic.twitter.com/joed8sjaw5
— The Packer Ranter (@PackerRanter) November 16, 2015