Facebook has announced that it will now support animated GIFs. Animated GIFs are moving images that loop, repeating themselves over and over again. Chances are you’ve seen them on Twitter, Tumblr and other social media sites – but before now, Facebook, in part due to worries that the presence of animated GIFs would ruin the aesthetic experience of browsing one’s timeline, hadn’t supported this file type.
Times have changed and now you’ll be able to share GIFs with your followers by posting a link to the site where those GIFs appear. At this time, there’s no way to upload GIFs directly to Facebook; however, if the file format proves to be popular, expect to see this functionality in the relatively near future.
GIFs are most commonly used to add emotional emphasis to a post. Forbes uses the example of reinforcing a post about awesome cookies with an animated GIF of Cookie Monster enthusiastically chowing down. Think about the emotional experience you’d like your customer to have – perhaps the “Aww!” moment when a Mother sees her daughter in a bridal gown or the “YES!” triumph that comes when a gamer’s able to get a long-awaited copy of a new game. Collecting GIFs that convey that critical target emotion to accompany your posts is a good starting point; moving forward, begin thinking about creating your own animated GIFs and hosting them on your website.
Not everyone is thrilled about animated GIFs. Used too often, they evoke the worst elements of the early internet, when MySpace and GeoCities websites were known for their sparkly, browser crashing imagery. However, today’s aesthetic tends to be more sophisticated, and people are using more robust devices that rely on Wi-Fi or 4G rather than dial up. Animated GIFs don’t cause quite the same amount of cringing that they used to – and now that they’ll be welcome on Facebook, they may very well have a place in your marketing mix.