We’re living in the age of visual communication. That’s a given. Where we might once have settled for a simple ‘thanks Geoff, see you tomorrow mate’, we now frantically scroll through clips of goats in sunglasses.
You see, the goat says it all. In fact, the goat says so much more!
Hilarious! Geoff will love that. Geoff loves goats…
These snippets understand us. They get us. In ways, thousands and thousands and thousands of years of language never could. Go figure.
GIF (short for Graphics Interchange Format) is now a way of life. Incorporated GIF searches are a must for social media platforms, and in September 2018, Giphy, the world’s number one gif website, reported 300 million users a day. What’s more, according to a survey published in Time in 2017, nearly two-thirds of millennials felt that GIFs got across their feelings better than words.
Complex messages expressed in a matter of seconds, does it come as any surprise that we’re hooked? The convenience of it all is too tempting. Why use the many iterations of the English language when Homer Simpson backing slowly into a bush can say it that much better?
In an era of ‘I want it and I want it now’, the pace of the GIF fits into the pace of our times. They’re our new digital dialect. Your joy, your excitement, your sadness, your pain – encapsulated in one little clip. More than words, more than emojis, this is immediate storytelling – entertaining and accessible to everyone, no matter their background.
So, time to get animated?
Maybe. A lot of brands are already using GIFs in their marketing to boost engagement, using it across their social media channels, blog posts, email campaigns and more. Meaning GIFs are no longer merely a bit of bants over the group chat. They’re legitimate tools of engagement that can be used to target your audiences online, and make your business more relatable, more human.
‘It’s all about joining in and entertaining,’ says British journalist and novelist Justin Myers, aka The Guyliner, who has earned a reputation for using GIFs in his online dating columns, ‘they’re almost impossible to misread. A sarcastic tone in a tweet might be misconstrued, but a GIF of Lucille Bluth from Arrested Development rolling her eyes at what you just said doesn’t take the Enigma machine to decipher.’
Take heed, people are using GIFs to convey their own sense of identity, anchoring themselves to TV shows, movies, or even news clips. A short and sweet way of saying ‘hey, this is me’.
So, pay attention. Watch. Enjoy. Get to know your audience. Laugh with them. The conversation is visual.