Give the Gift of GIFs this Christmas
Move over emoji! The GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) keyboard is taking the reins this holiday season. Although I’m sure those little Christmas tree and Santa Clause emoticons will still be on your “most popularly used” list this December, animated GIFs are quickly rising to the top of our lists. When it comes to expressing yourself, there seems to be a grumpy kitten or screaming Kim Kardashian image to perfectly portray every mood.
We all know that the holiday season can stir up a lot of emotions within us: whether it’s the joy of hearing Christmas music everywhere we go, or the stress that takes over when trying to prepare for your in-laws’ visit. What better way to express the rollercoaster of holiday emotions than with animated images? Users can now access GIFs on most all social media networks, including: Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat messaging, and even your iMessage keyboard. In order to best utilize this new (and very entertaining) communication craze, we have put together a list of GIF dos and don’ts for your holiday reading.
DO: Add to Your Story
Everyone likes a book with pictures, right? Don’t act like you don’t skip the content sometimes and jump straight to the pretty illustrations. The same goes for GIFs. The animated image adds a little spice to the already delicious content. For example, when Ben & Jerry’s announces a new ice cream flavor, a GIF of Ryan Gosling proclaiming how much he needs it will make you want to pick up your spoon and dig right in.
DON’T: Replace Necessary Content with GIFs
When using GIFs, it’s important to still use necessary content. Although a funny GIF will add to your story, stay away from letting it replace your story. Content is still key. It’s the main dish of the meal and the necessary base for any message to be successfully delivered to the right audience.
DO: Make an Impact
There are two key components to making an impact with animated GIFs. The first is knowing your audience. For instance, if you’re selling hearing aids to 65+ age demographic, a GIF of teen sensation Justin Bieber singing his hit song “What do you mean?” would probably make zero sense to said audience.
The second key component for making an impact is timing. You’ve probably heard the popular phrase, “timing is everything.” This phrase applies in the world of GIFs as well. Maybe you’re announcing the release of a new product in your store just in time for the holiday season. After some build up, throw in a GIF of an anxious Kristen Wiig on SNL before finally revealing the big surprise!
Less is more. When using GIFs, try not to ruin the punch line of your jokes or obscure the meaning in your message by distracting the reader with too many images. Despite their effectiveness, you shouldn’t flood your platform with too many GIFs on one page. Use them sparingly and effectively in order to make the biggest impact.
DO: Add Humor
Tell me that you think my haircut is ugly, I’ll probably unfriend you for at least a day. But tell me that you don’t like my haircut by sending me a GIF of Jimmy Fallon screaming “Ew!” and I’ll probably LOL (and continue being your friend). GIFs are meant to add humor to a message, especially awkward ones! Use the right GIF at the right time, and you can make bland content jump with personality.
DON’T: Offend Your Audience
DO: Have Fun!
The most important rule of all? Have a blast! Using GIFs should add flavor and zest to your message. Don’t forget to smile and laugh at the silly ones you choose. After all, that’s what you want your readers to do.