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Animated GIFs for social

Animated GIFs for social

February 9, 2024

Animated GIFs and looping animations are all over social

Every second tweet seems to be a GIF of a dog, cat, camel, celebrity or a courageous citizen doing something silly, stupid, serious, surprising, saucy, outrageous or – once in a blue moon – genuinely astounding.

And, when they’re done well, animated GIFs and looping animations can get you lots of attention if the timing, context and content are right. But doing them well isn’t as simple as it seems. You might think, quite reasonably, that it’s a simple and quick case of snipping out one section of your video production or animated explainer video, looping it and posting it with some supporting copy (or not depending on the context).

Connect the dots: copy, platform, visuals and sound

Your animated GIF needs to be fit for the platform in which it appears and relate to the copy and narrative it supports i.e. the GIF isn’t just there to catch the eye, it’s there to support the message and narrative in the copy. Which means both the copy and the animation need to work together, they’re separate elements yes, but you need both elements to make the whole thing work well. See how Apple used GIFs on their Privacy page: the visual mirrors the message.

To create GIFs like that, we need to understand the:

  • Purpose
  • Place
  • Audience
  • Outcome

We’re not saying always use copy. No. Sometimes your GIF may be enough on its own, but that has to be a conscious, well-thought-out decision based on knowing that animation on its own is enough to get attention and get your message across.

If you’re going to do an animated GIF well, here’s what you need to think about:

  • Purpose: why use a GIF and what do you want it to do for the viewer?
  • Place: where will it be seen and how does that affect the creative?
  • Audience: who will see it, where and when?
  • Outcome: what result do you want: a Like, a view, a comment, a click-through etc.?
  • Copy: is it needed and where does it appear?
  • Sound: is it adding value to the message and will it be heard?