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Digital Marketing, News & Trends, Social Media - 2 October 2023

Don’t make gaffes with your GIFs

Animated GIFs are a great way for your social media activity to stand out in the never-ending reels of posts we scroll through each day. Bombarded with a catalogue of text and still graphics, a moving image or soundless video can seize a viewer’s attention and absorb them – if only for a few intended seconds. Objective one, done.  

Once you have their attention, it is crucial your GIF encapsulates and informs, and creates a desire to click for more.  

So, why should you choose a GIF over an image or a bespoke video?  

In terms of a standalone static picture, a GIF offers added entertainment. If your audience is more entertained, they are happier and more drawn into your marketing messages. A video, on the other hand, although highly engaging, takes significant planning and investment; you need a script, a location, props, a spokesperson, equipment and, of course, the videographer. It then needs editing and captioning. A video also requires more of an investment from the viewer; they need to take time to watch it and process what it is telling them. 

You’ve decided on a GIF. Now what? 

What type of GIF you choose will largely depend on who you are targeting and what you want to say. In terms of format, you have two main avenues: tailored, branded GIFs or existing pop culture shorts. For a truly personal approach that is unique to you, you can design a GIF or outsource an agency to create one for you. The visuals must be relatable, eye-catching and line up with the company ethos. There’s no point creating a pink, sparkly, Barbie-themed GIF if you’re talking about funeral planning.  

For a simpler, quicker approach, you can access online GIF resources and select one that aligns with your messages. Ensure your chosen design is appropriate for your followers, supports your brand values and won’t offend.  

What can GIFs be used for? 

GIFs can be used for a plethora of goals: to advertise an event, showcase a sale, promote a product or give a personal insight into your company. Simplify data into an easy-to-read moving infographic or build a how-to guide.   

What to watch out for:

  • GIF overload – Once you’re ready to incorporate GIFs into your comms strategy, you’ll need to ensure you utilise them correctly. Firstly, don’t overuse them. It’s true, they make your posts more prominent, but use them too often and they’ll lose their impact. Similarly, if you try and put too much into one GIF, it can confuse your followers and even make them switch off.  
  • Know your audience – Mentioned earlier, but don’t create a technical or academic-packed GIF for a post targeting teenage thrill-seekers, and don’t use a clip of Justin Bieber to promote retirement planning. 
  • Don’t forget your lines – Visuals are great, but some messages are better conveyed through words or with accompanying text. Use your instincts to find the best blend of both.  

Ultimately, GIFs are versatile tools to add to your communication strategy and reach a new audience, or your current audience in a new way. They are informal and informative and should not be ignored. 


 At Effective, we help businesses manage their digital media through many ways, including:   

  • Audit of existing activity, performance and results, leading to recommendations   
  • Content creation and distribution for multiple platforms   
  • Planning and scheduling of content   
  • Monthly reporting to gauge engagement 

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