Use gifs. That’s it. By starting my blog off with a gif, I upped your likelihood of continuing to read this article and commenting seven fold.
Pretty good, huh? But I guess now that I’ve given away the gist of my entire blog post in the first sentence, that likelihood has been diminished a little bit. But, I’ve still got a lot of tips and fun facts (and a few of my favorite gifs, of course), for those of you who decide to keep reading.
Gifs are, on average, the most engaging form of visual content on the internet. Tweets that use gifs get an average of 167% more click-throughs than those with just pictures, and Reddit posts with gifs get an average of double the amount of upvotes than static images. But they’re not just beating out static images–gifs are even seven times more engaging than videos of the same event. Used in marketing emails, gifs have been seen to contribute to a 6% increase in open rate, 18% increase in click through rate, and have even led to a 100% increase in conversion-based revenues. And if you can manage to capture an event in gif form within 10 minutes of it happening (the “viral window”), engagement can increase by 800%.
Ok, we all know cute puppies are cute, but like..how did gifs get so powerful?
People like visual content. And for good reason: 90% of all the information sent to our brains is visual, meaning our brains can also respond to visual information 60,000 times faster than it can to text. It’s actually been observed that people only remember 20% of the text they read without visuals, so, in reality the more important the content, the more willing you should be to throw in a gif. (Counterintuitive, I know, but we’ve gotta trust Bill Nye on this one). People also have a higher emotional connection to visual content, and emotional appeal has been known to increase engagement in all forms of communication.
Gifs work even better than your average static image or long-form video because they can condense a series of events into one short graphic, allowing you to process details you may not have before, with the convenient auto-play feature further enhancing the content’s impact. They also act as benchmarkers and outlining tools in longer text posts like emails and blogs that allow the reader to quickly skim while still capturing an understanding of the content.
Studies suggest that the reason gifs have become so successful has to do with the way content consumption has changed over the past decade. As the internet became ubiquitous, people were inundated with long-form information, and after failing to filter through it ourselves, we altered our content norm to short-form posts like facebook statuses and 140 character tweets. But even these have become overwhelming–think about how many times you’ve scrolled through your twitter feed or email inbox just glazing over the words and stopping only when you find something that stands out. Gifs are captivating by nature, and they can communicate information quickly, which satisfies short-term stimulation urges and frees up time for people to be selective about their longer-form articles.
Gifs are also logistically easy to share because, as one of the first forms of digital image file, they’re supported by just about every platform: from mobile to desktop and from twitter to slack, gifs are almost always going to work.
Alright, so we’ve got our fill of Science, but Gifs are an ~artform~
As much as I would’ve loved to just thrown a few cute puppy gifs into all of my blogs, or even written this post out of gifs alone, that’s unfortunately just not gonna get the job done.
You may not like cute puppy gifs (you monster), and too many gifs can be just as overwhelming as too many words. It’s all about knowing your audience and mastering that gif-to-text ratio. Plus, you have to stay #relevant.
No one wants to see the Wall Street Journal tweeting out a gif of Steph Curry with a link to an article about the political situation in Syria–that’d just be confusing (and inappropriate). A tweet from the Warriors with a gif of Steph Curry being ridiculous, though,…that one’s gonna do well.
Knowing your audience is probably the hardest part, especially if you have a diverse crowd like our class, because you never know where you should fall on the serious, funny, informative, and randomness scales, but seeking out commonalities within your audience can help. Whether it be age, geographic region, interests in TV shows/movies/music, or whatever it was that drove them all to your post–there’s always something.
But, again, you have to keep it relevant. For example, one of the business programs I’m in on campus requires me to send out emails to about 120 CSOM students pretty regularly, and because I know that my emails are boring but important I always try to spice things up with a fun gif. Because I can’t know everyone’s gif/humor preferences, I’ve been using a series of businessanimal gifs this semester, because cute animals are generally fail-proof. (Though the internet surprisingly lacks gifs featuring cute animals in business clothes/settings, so if you’ve got any good ones, feel free to drop them in the comments). Relevance is also really important to making sure your gif is a value-add, not just a fun distraction. Like this one, which was paired with a “dress to impress” caption, that *hopefully* directed my program members to check out the dress code requirements I’d just outlined.
A few pro tips
- Emails to listservs/big groups don’t always support large gifs– use this site to cut down on frames and file size
- You don’t always have to know what kind of gif you’re looking for, these sites break down gifs into categories to meet emotion/theme/situation
- Making your own gif is actually pretty easy, try these options:
“I got bored and scrolled to the bottom–do you have a sparknotes version?”
Well, yes, my friend, I do. And I appreciate your honesty.
- The use of gifs in blogs, email marketing, and/or social media posts is proven to increase engagement.
- People only retain 20% of text without visuals & 90% of all information processed by the brain is visual!
- Gifs can act as great transitions or information reinforcers if you use them correctly.
- Make sure you keep your gifs relevant, appropriate, and to a minimum.
- Send me fun business animal gifs