The GIF is the Gift that Keeps on Giving
January 16, 2017
Briefly known as animated images, GIFs have been around for over 25 years. But only recently has the GIF trend impressively reinvented itself. At the dawn of the Internet age, GIFs were normally scattered throughout websites built on Geocities or Angelfire, often characterized by small tacky clipart images that moved skittishly on your screen. But today, GIFs are playing an increasingly important role in breaking news on the web and giving us new ways to express our emotions when we are unable do it in person.
So, how exactly did the GIF become the perfect image format to pass around the Internet? Not quite just an image or a video, GIFs are the perfect combination between the two that make this image format so appealing. Regular photos in JPG or PNG format already do perfectly fine on social media. But because we are quickly moved by visual content, GIFs add something much more special. They are a mini video with no sound that can be watched from beginning to end in as little as one to two seconds. Videos on YouTube or Vimeo take at least a couple minutes to watch. They also produce sound. GIFs offer a convenient, faster and totally silent way to express something. They are the perfect blend between an image and a video that really captures our attention.
The Driving Force Behind GIF Sharing
The popular microblogging platform, Tumblr, is one of the biggest viral drivers of GIF sharing. Users are constantly sharing a variety of GIFs that the image format is always among the top tags found on the social media’s Explore page. We have figured out ways to create GIFs out of our favorite TV shows, movies, music videos, award shows, red carpet events and everything you can possibly think of. Once users see that GIF of Jennifer Lawrence falling on their Tumblr dashboards, they press reblog and send it their followers who continue the endless viral spread.
Like Twitter, Tumblr has quickly become an important social networking tool for breaking news and current events. And with GIF integration, Tumblr has become a place where users can instantly find and share animated images of what is happening as it happens.
Photos are great, but GIFs bring something different to the content table. They tell better stories, and Tumblr has become the primary place to share them.
The GIFt to Social Media
Tumblr is considered the ruler of social GIF sharing, but other social networks and image sharing platforms have also followed the trend. Apps like Boomerang and Phhhoto owe their success to the bite-sized entertainment trend. Not only do they give users a quick and easy way to create their own GIFs, but they have also created successful social media platforms completely built around the GIF trend that people truly want to use. With access to so many apps like Vine and GifBoom almost anyone with a smart phone can create a GIF in a matter of seconds.
The Future for GIFs
It is safe to say GIFs are not going anywhere. If anything, users will figure out even more ways to use them. Websites and blogs are now looking at how GIFs can enhance the visitor experience and encourage them to share their content. Many are taking inspiration from websites like EliteDaily and Buzzfeed, which are already using GIF imagery to elevate content and drive more traffic.
GIFs have become catnip for the Internet, which only means we will be seeing a lot more of them in the future.