Whether you pronounce it “ghif” or “jif”, a gif is an image format that supports lossless imagery. GIF means Graphic Interchange Format, and this format allows both still and animated images, thus making it perfect for short clips of your favourite movie or cat video, which can be shared via the internet.
The use of gifs has grown massively in the past few years, and to keep up with times, Twitter has made it easier than ever to not only post a self-made gif, but to search for and post a gif from http://giphy.com. And, with its built-in search function, you don’t even have to leave the site to find the perfect gif.
With Twitter’s 140-character limit, you can be very limited to what you can achieve with a tweet, and have to really think about the importance of what you are writing. Using a gif enables more content, whether it be images or text, and allows it all in one place. The viewers don’t have to scroll to see more, they simply watch the image. If you are trying to maximise engagement with your tweet, a gif may also work because it is interactive, with a more likeable image gaining interest from a bigger following.
At Branded3, we have started to use gifs with most of our tweets, with some of these made by myself, and others found using the integrated search feature. Take a look below at some of the gifs created by Branded3.
I used Twitter Analytics to pull a report of the impressions and engagements we have received here at Branded3 in the past 28 days. The results of this showed that on average, a tweet without any media attached, achieved 9 engagements. Whereas a tweet with media attached, achieved 17 engagements. This means people are more likely to engage with your tweet if it has some form of media attached, which, in turn helps in keeping your audience interested and encourages them to read a blog post or visit an external site.
You don’t have to be an expert in design and animation to create a gif. Although if you want a gif tailored more towards your tweet, and one that follows your brand guidelines, it may help to follow the steps below. The best tools are Adobe After Effects and Adobe Photoshop, which are available to purchase annually or monthly at http://www.adobe.com/uk/.
How to make a gif:
- Think of an idea – Once briefed, you can use the content of the tweet to directly influence the content of the gif. Depending on your brand guidelines, you may have a title in a specific font, and be limited to a certain number of colours, so take this into account to avoid a more complex design. A good rule to remember is ‘KISS’ – Keep it simple stupid!
- Once you have thought of an idea, create a project in After Effects, keeping to the size guide that Twitter provides for best results. The composition is where the imagery will go, and the project is where all your assets are stored.
- Use After Effects to create a moving image, if you are unsure of how to create certain aspects, there are a number of Youtube tutorials that can be followed.
- When you have completed your video, export as a .mov file. This can then be opened in Photoshop.
- Once imported to Photoshop, here you can export it as a .gif file. When exporting, remember to tick the ‘loop forever’ box, to ensure your gif doesn’t just play the first time it is viewed.
A few things to consider when creating a gif:
- Try and make it loop seamlessly. The start and end point should be the same, meaning that the image can loop again and again, forever.
- Keep image size as low as possible, this may mean that you must minimise colour use in Photoshop. This can be done when exporting, the less colours used, the smaller the file size.
If you are not experienced in design, or don’t have the facilities of a designer at your disposal, but still want an easy way to make gifs using still images or so on, here are some crafty websites that will allow you to do just that:
Giphy – http://giphy.com
Gifmaker – http://gifmaker.me
Gifcreator – http://gifcreator.me
Ezgif – https://ezgif.com