Animated GIFs 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.

Oo oo oo look at me!

And, when they’re done well, they 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 animated explainer video, looping it and posting it with some supporting copy (or not depending on the context). 

In my personal social media profiles, I’ll quite often post a GIF on its own without any copy, usually in reply to another post. But not when it’s as part of a Curveball marketing campaign or for a client’s campaign.

In that case, we take a very different approach

Because creating beautifully compelling animated GIFs for social media marketing campaigns involves a bit more thought and a lot less knee-jerk reaction. 

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.

Same goes for sound. Add sound if it adds meaning and value to the message and is likely to be heard. Not all social platforms play sound by default and some people deliberately turn off their sound.

Proof of the pudding

We created two examples from longer explainer videos and every aspect of the animation was carefully chosen because it relates, and is a visual reference to the copy and narrative. All the elements of the post work together to catch the eye, engage someone and communicate the message.

It’s also important to know which social media channel the GIF will be used in because the copy can appear above or below the GIF, which can affect the design of the GIF.

LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook 

The copy appears above an image or animation, so in this example we made the sun move up towards the copy, drawing the audience’s eyes naturally towards the copy. And because the copy talks about 24/7 support, looping the sun and moon from the longer explainer video made perfect sense because it is a visual representation of 24 hours in a day.

Copy and visuals working together

Similarly, in this example, we animated the mouse icon clicking and selecting the ID badges because this reflects and supports what the copy is talking about: in a way, it’s a visual version of the copy, a metaphor or analogous with it. And we also made the mouse icon move up towards the copy to draw the eye to it, which wasn’t a part of the original longer explainer video.

Whereas, if the GIF was going in Instagram, we’d have made the mouse move downwards, to the bottom of the screen, because copy appears below images and animations in that platform.

In both cases, we knew which social media channel the GIF was going to be used in and figured out what that meant for how it should be designed. 

To recap and finish

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? 

You can see more examples of animated GIFs for social here. Or read about how an animated umbrella GIF increased our engagement by 200%.

And if you’ve got any questions, or want to chat about creating animated GIFs for your marketing campaigns, drop us a line or give us a call.

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