After several years in the mainstream, GIFs are no longer relegated to just funny internet memes. In fact, thoughtfully-designed GIFs seem to appear everywhere we look these days! Whether you love them, love to hate them, or wish you knew how to make GIFs; they’re here to stay.

Companies large and small are creating GIFs to explain, demonstrate, educate, entertain, and tell stories.

For those seeking a definition: GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) is a file format for moving images. GIFs usually last only a few seconds long, but they’re set to loop endlessly. The popularity of GIFs is rooted in the looping, which uses an endlessly entertaining moment of rich, moving media to leave a lasting impression.

While our team doesn’t know how to pronounce GIFs (is it jiff, or giff?), we do know how to put them to good use. In this guide, we’ll explore how to engage audiences and share information more effectively with GIFs. We’ll look at ideal places to use GIFs, and also how to get started creating them in Vyond’s studio.

4 places to use GIFs to capture attention

Unlike traditional video, GIFs are usually short enough to keep viewers watching throughout their entire loop. GIFs also typically dive right into the action or the core message, ensuring that you don’t lose viewers with lengthy exposition. GIFs can be used across a number of different channels, and here, we’ll look at how to use GIFS to attract viewers and make them stick around for your supporting content.

Email

In an endless sea of boring, plaintext emails, it’s tempting to include a video to engage the recipient of your messages. Most popular email clients like Gmail, however, don’t directly support video play within an email. If you try to embed a video in an email, you may end up with nothing more than an image shown in the body of the message. GIFs, however, almost always play with no issues. GIFs also automatically play, which can help draw attention to your content immediately after a user opens the message. Read more in this helpful resource for further context on how email clients handle video and GIF embeds.

Animated emails aren’t only for expert marketers. Anyone can cut through the inbox clutter with fun and delightful GIFs. The out-of-office GIF below is a perfect example of how to turn a boring email into a memorable one. Vyond customers can edit this GIF as a customizable video template.

Example of how to make GIFs for holiday out of office emails.

GIFs can also be used to make internal communication more engaging. You can inject a bit of pop culture or humor into your email to keep things light, and the share-worthy nature of GIFs can boost the likelihood that employees will further discuss the message that you’re sharing.

Presentations

PowerPoint templates and other slide-based software can cause viewers’ eyes to glaze over. Try adding life to your presentation with GIFs. With their eye-catching movement and often humorous tone, GIFs will help you keep your audience engaged.

GIFs are extra effective when shown while transitioning to a new part of your presentation, as they provide visual support while the speaker introduces the coming section.

Example of how to make GIFs with ambient movement.

Ambient movement, too, goes a long way in making your presentation more dynamic. You can cusotmize the slide above as an editable template with any existing Vyond account.

Social Media Posts

If you’re a marketer, consider using GIFs in your social campaigns. GIFs are popular across social media because they’re easy to share, short to consume, and compatible with almost every platform. Twitter is a particularly popular channel for GIFs, marrying the popular brevity of a tweet with short-form video at its smallest.

Promotional GIFs like the template below are a great example of using animation to drive sales on social media. You can edit this sales promo template with any existing Vyond account.

Example of how to make GIFs for social media.

Of course, you can’t talk about GIFs on social media without mentioning the “reaction GIF,” which shows a recognizable personality showing emotion in response to a message or action.

an animated scene from Naked Gun with the cast bringing their hands to their foreheads

When the “facepalm” feeling spreads to the entire audience.

Brands can use these GIFs to help viewers connect with a message or understand the tone that the speaker is trying to convey much more meaningfully than with text alone.

Messaging Apps

Brands are increasingly using chatbots to create one-on-one communications with customers via SMS or their smartphone’s messaging apps. In these chats, brands can insert GIFs to capture viewers’ attention and make the conversation feel friendly.

In this example, arts and culture festival South-by-Southwest (SXSW) uses GIFs to celebrate a user’s registration and alert them to upcoming happenings.

an iPhone showing animated GIFs being used in Facebook Messenger

Regardless of the channel used, GIFs provide a delightful user experience that capture your audience’s attention.

What to look for in a GIF

Choosing GIFs as a professional isn’t as easy as finding one for a friend. The GIFs you’ll use in business contexts should be polished, non ambiguous, and designed to be accessible for all viewers. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when choosing or creating GIFs at work:

  • Don’t use too much motion. The GIF file format only supports a small number of pixels per image, so scenes with too much motion can appear pixelated and blurred.
  • Limit your use of color. Unlike video, which supports millions of colors, GIFs only support 256 colors. Consider using a limited palette to avoid videos loading improperly.
  • Avoid annoyingly repetitive loops. Making your GIFs too short can add a strobe-like effect to the footage, potentially annoying and alienating users.
  • Be mindful of accessibility. Flashing images or content can trigger unpleasant reactions in viewers who are susceptible to seizures. The WCAG 2.0, the most popular accessibility framework for websites, advises that web content creators avoid using images that appear to flash more than 3 times per second, either due to an actual flash used in the image or the strobe-like effect that can come from looping GIFs.
  • Aim to keep your GIFs small. Be careful not to create GIFs that are too large, as some platforms have limits on the size of GIFs that they’ll display. Err on the side of caution and aim to create GIFs under 1 MB to ensure that they’ll play in your desired channel.
  • Keep it appropriate. Avoid GIFs that might alienate viewers based on their beliefs or background. For example, don’t use a GIF that makes fun of a politician.

Follow these tips to find and create GIFs that are both entertaining to watch, while still reflecting well on your brand.

How to create your own GIFs in Vyond

There are plenty of GIF libraries out there (like Giphy), but some projects call for more professional or personalized assets. Try creating your own within Vyond’s easy-to-use video maker! Here are some step-by-step tips on how to export high-quality, engaging GIFs from Vyond Studio:

  1. Start by creating a short, simple video within Vyond
  2. Click the “Export/Download” icon in the top right corner (just as you’d do when converting your video into an .mp4 file or other video format)
  3. Select the “GIF” option
    a screen shot of Vyond Studio showing how to export a GIF
  4. You’re all set!

Vyond’s free plan doesn’t support GIF export, but the feature is available in our Personal, Premium, Professional and Enterprise plans. For more information on which Vyond plans support GIF exports, take a look at this plan comparison.

Create more engaging content with GIFs

GIFs are everywhere on the web, and for good reason. They provide a short, engaging burst of content that captures viewers’ attention. At the same time, GIFs are just long enough to share meaningful information with your audiences, such as highlighting new products for customers.

It’s easy to start creating GIFs right away for your brand with Vyond. Learn about Vyond’s video animation platform and start a free 14-day free trial.