We all understand that highly debated issues can become heated, causing rifts between people with opposing opinions. Generally, we base our stance off a set of values that we have gained through culture, upbringing, and experience. One particular debate splits passionate computer users around the planet onto one side or the other. Introducing: the GIF pronunciation debate. The GIF pronunciation debate was finally resolved when the creator of the GIF, Steve Wilhite, became so frustrated with the ongoing debate that he proclaimed for all the world to hear that GIF is pronounced with a soft G, or “jif.”
The pronunciation of the file name may not be of much importance. What is important is how passionate audiences have become over animated GIFs. Many companies have realized the importance of these file formats, and have begun to utilize them in their social media posts. Twitter just recently started supporting GIFs and companies are already taking advantage of the opportunity. The popular fast food sandwich restaurant, Subway, posted a GIF of a clock with a foot-long sandwich as the big hand ticking around with the text “The time has come…” to celebrate the GIF support. They were not alone in their celebration. Denny’s, Oreo Cookies, Lipton and many other big name brands posted GIFs to celebrate.
Why are these little animations becoming popular again?
We often think of GIFs as the old, low resolution files from the 90s, when the Internet was gaining popularity. Many websites during that era were inundated with GIFs, which were the cool new technology. However, GIFs in 2014 are much more detailed. Some people think that GIFs have become popular again because children of the 90s, who experienced GIFs while learning about the Internet, are now a powerful tech savvy Internet force, constantly pouring information onto the World Wide Web. However, GIFs are more than just nostalgic for many people. GIFs allow for a quick and entertaining passage to transfer information. They are generally only a few seconds long, and display an action, emotion, or idea quickly.
Many GIFs also get forwarded to friends and family through different messaging systems because of their cute, funny, or nostalgic nature. This viral spread has the potential to increase the popularity of any brands that can successfully create and distribute them. Look at popular websites Tumblr and Reddit which have received increased traffic with GIF posts.
Social Media is a great place for brands to gain exposure to a large audience. A major benefit to Social Media is that content does not always need to advertise the product or services offered. This allows marketers to be more creative with posts. GIFs work well with posts on Social Media platforms because of their ability to go viral, which offers free exposure for brands.
Verizon uses a GIF on their Google+ page to promote their 4G capabilities, which does not activate until the cursor slides over it. They also use reaction GIFs, which have often transformed into Internet memes. Reaction GIFs are meant to explain how someone reacts to a specific situation using a comical representation.
Multiple websites use high resolution gifs on their landing pages, which help make the page feel more dynamic. One example of a website GIF is Jive Social Business, which cleverly uses a GIF to show air moving through the blinds behind the people in the foreground. Consumers also like to see how products are created. Many companies use GIFs to give consumers a visual of how the process works, instead of trying to explain it through text.
Many companies are choosing to use GIFs in their email marketing. Many of these GIFs are created to showcase current sales and promotions taking place. Starbucks sent out emails in May with their half off GIF, explaining to customers which drinks were half off. Although many people do not read emails from big companies, those who do occasionally read them will be pleased that they can absorb the information instantaneously, instead of needing to read a long message.
The main takeaway here is that GIFs are back. GIFs can be beneficial to marketers if used correctly, and if distributed to the right audience. They offer an interesting and convenient method of transferring information to users across the world. GIFs can also have an emotional impact on viewers, which offers brands the opportunity to create relationships with individual consumers.