How to Use GIFs in Your Marketing to Boost Engagement

GIFs have gone from something mostly teens once used on Tumblr to a cultural online staple today. Why not use them to enliven your social media?

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By Syed Balkhi

Oleksandr Hruts | Getty Images

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To some, the acronym GIF (short for Graphics Interchange Format) might seem like a mysterious online language describing looping clips of funny TV shows and movies or an amusing facial reaction to a comment or post on social media.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to GIFs: How to Create Them and When to Use Them

But GIFs have come a long way since their invention in 1987; they've gone from something mostly teens used on Tumblr to the cultural online staple they are today.

GIFs allow us to express complex messages in a matter of seconds. In fact, according to a survey published in Time, nearly two-thirds of millennials polled said GIFs communicated their thoughts and feelings better than words. And that makes them a powerful strategy for companies that want to connect and engage with their target audience online. So, how can your business get in on the GIF trend to get your message across and boost engagement?

Let's get animated! Here's how to use GIFs in your marketing to boost engagement.

Stand out on social media.

When users are scrolling through their social media feeds, a simple photo and text post may not grab their attention, but you can make your marketing stand out by using GIFs.

One company that's using GIFs on social media in an amazing way is Vue Cinemas. It takes short movie clips and turns them into GIFs that literally leap out of a mocked-up social media post.

Image Credit: EConsultantcy

Your own strategy doesn't have to be that complicated. Your company can get more engagement on social media by using GIFs already available in the GIF library on Facebook and Twitter. Create a post with a funny GIF that's relatable to your audience and relevant to your business or have fun in your comment section reacting to comments from users with a fun "Thank you" GIF, for instance.

Related: 19 Tools for Creating Engaging Social Media Videos, Images and GIFs in Minutes

Using GIFs on social media will help your audience members relate to your company on a more personable level. Instead of interacting with a company, they'll feel that they're sharing fun GIFs back and forth with a friend.

Impress your email subscribers.

Email marketing is still one of the most effective ways to speak to your target audience, but consumers today are inundated with a ton of email marketing messages. That means you need to do something different to get their attention and make them want to click. And that's where GIFs come in. Adding GIFs to your marketing will make your emails more interactive, which in turn will boost engagement from your subscribers.

Blue Apron, the food delivery service, uses a GIF to showcase a delicious meal that catches the eye and tempts consumers into making a purchase "before it's all gone." Instead of just telling subscribers what food they can make with its service, Blue Apron shows them.

Image Credit: Chamaileon blog

You can use a GIF to showcase a ton of different products that are available on your website or just add a fun text GIF that catches the eye. GIFs in your email messages will delight readers bored with reading static emails.

Liven up your blog posts.

Blogging is great for driving traffic to your website. But not everyone likes to read blog posts. So, add a little something for everyone in your blog posts by including GIFs. Using GIFs for your "how to" blog posts and tutorials is a great way to go.

For example, the Huffington Post wrote this article "5 Ways to Wear a Silk Scarf" and added instructional GIFS to visually demonstrate the lessons to readers.

Image Credit: Huffington Post

Adding GIFs to your blog posts isn't just for entertainment either; videos and GIFs actually help people learn better than they do reading text. According to this article in Psychology Today, words are abstract and rather difficult for the brain to retain, whereas visuals are concrete and more easily remembered. So, if you've got something to teach your audience, add in some helpful and engaging GIFs.

Show off your product.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so that must mean a GIF is worth a million words. Instead of showing off your products in a static, one-dimensional way, give your audience a more exciting peek at your products by using GIFs.

Kate Spade shows off its popular styles of bags in all their different color variations, using GIFs. Instead of making customers click through different photos in your online store, you can get them excited about your product in an instant in an eye-catching and engaging way.

Image Credit: EDM Designer blog

You can also use GIFs to create a full 360-degree view of your product, which is more cost-effective than an HD marketing video. You can create your own GIFs easily and for free with a tool like Giphy. Just upload high-quality photos of your product at every angle and in seconds you'll have an awesome GIF of your product to wow your audience with.

Related: 5 Websites That Offer GIFs to Enhance Your Social Media Marketing

Over to you

GIFs aren't just for having funny conversations online. Your business can use GIFs to engage with your target audience online and make your brand more relatable. With these tips for how to use GIFs in your marketing, you can do more than just boost engagement; you can turn strangers online into your biggest fans.

Syed Balkhi

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer

Entrepreneur, Growth Hacker and Marketer

Syed Balkhi is an entrepreneur and the co-founder of WPBeginnerOptinMonster and WPForms

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