5 Reasons for Using GIFs in Your Social Media Strategy

GIF, an abbreviation for Graphics Interchange Format, celebrated its 30th anniversary this past year. While it may seem to be a brand new phenomenon for many, It was actually introduced way back in 1987 by Steve Wilhite to make it easier for people to share animated images across systems. Now It has become the internet's most beloved image format to easily express themselves in today digital’s world.

The presence of GIFs on social media networks has increased dramatically over the past few years as brands started to incorporate them into their campaigns online. Corporate giants, like Starbucks and Samsung, are among those using GIFs to take their social media marketing to the next level. They leverage on animated images because they can deliver a strong emotional impact to their audience.  They can also resonate with people they want to connect to and provide a more effective way to reach their consumers in a form of communication they relate to.  

A quick search on Google Trends will show you just how popular this format is online: GIFs are favored even more than vines and Instagram videos. This just goes to show that animated images aren't going anywhere. If anything, brands will find better ways to use them for time to come.

So, Why Use GIFs on Social Media?

There's a lot to gain when you use animated GIFs to market your business online. Below, we've outlined five reasons why animated images are the perfect visual component to add in your social marketing strategy.

1. To Promote a Product or an Event

Animated GIFs are ideal for marketing your products online as they can show off the kind of details that will entice shoppers to buy. It also gives your audience a chance to take a closer look at your item since they do a fantastic job in highlighting its features and benefits. Here’s one example of GIF marketing done right by Marie Claire:

People are becoming less receptive to traditional advertising and brands are turning to GIFs for help as it allows them to showcase their latest items and broadcast their special promotions and events without breaking the bank. 

2. To Increase Your Audience Retention

People prefer consuming information in a visual form because the content is more appealing, engaging and easy to understand. That's what makes it so effective. According to Jakob Nielsen, users only get to read 28% of the words published when they visit a website. They tend to skim through the text to prevent information overload.


It has also been observed that people only remember 20% of the text if they read content that are unaccompanied with visuals. Hence, many social media marketers prefer to publish visual content such as GIFs over plain text because it encourages people to stay longer to listen to a brand's message.

3. To Showcase your Brand’s Personality and Creativity

Adding GIFs in your social media campaigns shows that your brand has a personality and that you are a business focused on delivering positive experiences for your audience. It also adds a human element to your brand to show that you're not just a corporate robot.

Animated images make communication more charismatic and engaging between a brand and their consumers especially when they are relevant to your audience. The effectiveness of a GIF can be further enhanced with the use of right visual stimulation. For example, let's say you want to bring out the feelings of positivity through your campaigns online. You need to incorporate images and colors that elicit good vibes, but at the same time, you must align GIF creation with your brand guidelines and style guide. That means you should be aware of fonts, color palettes and the kind of images you will use for your animated GIF. See Kraft's customized GIF for their audience in Tumblr.  

Kraft Gif Example

4. To Tell a Story or Explain a Process

Since GIFs are easy to consume, this makes them quite an attractive option for brands to tell stories more effectively. In less than a minute, you can convey the emotion and message you want to get across. They are also ideal in summarizing information or explaining a process. If you want to teach your audience how to use your product, you can produce GIFs to save you the time of having to respond to every customer inquiry.

Sometimes it's a lot easier to explain instructions through visual form. Huffington Post did just that by whipping up some GIF to demonstrate the numerous ways women can rock their scarf.

Ways to Wear a Scarf Example

5. To Involve Your Audience

GIFs encourage User Generated Content (UGC) on social media. It is defined as any type of content produced by the brand's most valuable asset – their users and consumers. You can grow your business with its help. It's also an excellent way to promote your brand and it only requires minimal effort. It doesn't take a lot of time and resources as well.

When Coca-Cola's campaign "Taste the Feeling" went viral, it gave their target market or audience an opportunity to make their own GIFs. It was then shared on the company's official website and as a result, it generated more traffic and drove more sales for the business. Another example is when GQ participated on an existing viral hashtag: #nationalsunglassesday. They posted a GIF of Ryan Gosling wearing sunglasses and that helped their increase brand awareness and encouraged their followers to engage by posting their own GIFs.  


Whether your agree or not, GIFs are here to stay and will continue to be a rising trend that will call most popular social media networks to support the GIF format. So, if you'd like to set up your business up for success, then you should start incorporating animated images in your marketing campaigns.