The GIF, short for "graphics interchange format," has become a staple in modern communication. The short, looping video clips can be easily shared, which has made GIFs popular with social media users. They're perfect for conveying emotions, reactions, and ideas in a fun, engaging way.
But aside from being a popular form of entertainment, GIFs can be a powerful marketing tool, even for B2B marketers.
Why Are GIFs Popular?
GIFs are undeniably popular in online communication. One of the top GIF-sharing platforms, Giphy, has over 700 million users who share more than 10 billion pieces of content daily.
There are a few reasons that GIFs work so well. They relate to how we process images and browse content.
It's a part of our biological makeup that our brains process images more quickly than words. That means if you want to convey a lot of information quickly, your best options are videos, images, and GIFs.
Giving priority to visual cues also aligns with how we use social media. As we browse through a Facebook or Instagram feed, we're generally not paying attention to each individual post. Consciously or otherwise, we're looking for something that stands out, looks interesting, or appeals to us.
Why Are GIFs Good for Marketing?
On social media, GIFs have a few subtle advantages over full videos and still images.
Unlike a still image, a GIF is an attention-grabber: Movement makes the GIF stand out. When you scroll through your Twitter feed, do you notice that your eyes are drawn to moving images over still ones? It's a natural reaction.
But videos are also moving images, so why don't they work just as well? Videos can be great content for engaging an audience on sites such as YouTube, but many social media feeds don't autoplay videos. That means a user has to make a conscious choice to play the clip.
Increasing the visibility of your profile and encouraging engagement is a crucial part of any marketing strategy.
In marketing and user experience (UX) design, if a user has to take additional actions to get to your content, we refer to it as friction. Friction drives down engagement rates because it causes users move past your content to something more accessible.
GIFs avoid that problem by being immediate. They autoplay on a loop of a few seconds, which makes them hard to ignore. Getting a user's attention can be difficult in the crowded space of B2B marketing, and marketing with GIFs can help you increase engagement.
GIFs can help establish your brand persona and voice, allowing you to connect with your audience in a more personal way. GIFs convey a lot of personality and tone. And you can create your own to tailor them to your specific company values.
GIFs are small files compared with videos. They're no more difficult to load than an image. That means they're perfect for mobile browsing, which is how most of your audience views its social media content.
How Can You Use GIFs for Marketing?
Any social media guide will tell you GIFs are great for social marketing, but they are versatile and they have more uses. Here are some ideas for integrating GIFs into your digital marketing.
Advertising and Storytelling
Use GIFs to create short, attention-grabbing ads that tell a story. Try briefly conveying your brand message with emotion and context. If you're a B2B marketer with a complex product or service such as VoIP that requires explanation, GIFs can help users relate to your product.
Products and Pages
Showcase your products in action, giving potential customers a better idea of what they can expect. You can also use GIFs to liven up your website or social media pages, making them more visually appealing and engaging.
Use GIFs to create quick how-to guides, making it easier for customers to understand how to use your products. B2B decision-makers have specific technical needs. Showing is better than telling in those cases, and GIFs can help you avoid boring walls of text.
Data and Presentations
Internal communication, investor relations, and business updates can all be as important as direct marketing in B2B communication. You can use GIFs to liven up your data presentations, newsletters, and internal communications to boost engagement among staff and stakeholders.
Of course, we're not talking about memes and emotional content. When you're presenting facts and figures, simple GIFs that animate your company performance charts can go a long way toward keeping participants engaged.
In some cases, you can use GIFs to respond to your customer inquiries in a fun and engaging way. If handled well and tailored to your user base, doing so can help build trust and establish a more personal connection with your customers.
However, the tactic should be attempted only by experienced community managers who have a good understanding of your customers. Many brands have found themselves apologizing for "over-enthusiastic" social media managers' use of inappropriate GIFs.
When Should You NOT Use a GIF?
Generally, if the tone of an animated image fits, it's fine to use it.
But if you're addressing a serious issue or a complaint, a GIF will not go down well with a professional client. You might think a crying kitten apologizing for negative quarterly results would get you some sympathy, but your shareholders might disagree.
Use your best judgment and knowledge of your clients to guide you, and err on the side of caution.
Where to Find GIFs
Many websites and apps allow you to easily find and share GIFs, such as Giphy and Tenor. You can also create your own by using apps, such as GIF Maker and GIF Studio.
Screenshot of giphy.com
Show to Tell
If you need to explain a complex product, GIFs can be your best friend. In B2B marketing, that helps clients relate your products to specific business use cases.
GIFs make for immediate, entertaining, and eye-catching marketing.
More Resources on Using GIFs in Marketing
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