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Iceni Magazine | June 5, 2020

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Is your business taking advantage of animated gifs on Twitter yet?

Article by Paul Kirk: www.paulkirkdesign.co.uk
Follow on Twitter: @PKirk_designer

On June 18th 2014 Twitter announced that you could add animated gifs to your tweets. This unleashed the obligatory cat playing piano gifs, dancing pet gifs, blooper gifs and many more dubious gifs. But don’t despair it’s not all pointless – gifs are gradually being used by businesses as another free and more importantly fun promotional opportunity.

What could they be used for?

The animated nature of the gif means you could use them to promote a product, brand, service or evoke an emotion in a variety of possible ways:

  • A step-by-step process (floral or baking businesses)
  • Product demo (new tech gadget – possible 360 or showcasing a cool feature)
  • Emotive advertising (ideal for solicitors, wedding industries, food & beverage manufacturers)
  • Software tutorial (app or game promotions)
  • Even the obligatory ‘funny’ outtake!

The list of options is only limited by your own creativity and image manipulation skills. A couple of great example can be seen here from InVision  http://bit.ly/1A76OOi and this one by Samsung http://t.co/nvGXD5IE22

So how do you add them to your tweets?

The process is really straight forward:

1. Compose your tweet

2. Press the ‘add photo’ icon to add an image and select your pre-created animated gif from your desktop.

3. Post your tweet. Then, when the tweet is viewed it’ll display the play/pause button. Play the gif, enjoy and share!

Unlike photos, where you can add up to 4 photos you can only add 1 gif in each tweet. It’s worth noting also that gifs don’t auto play – this has to be instigated by the viewer.

How do I create a gif?

There’s a variety of applications that will help you create your animated gifs including Photoshop(Mac/PC), GIFboom(PC), GIFBrewery(Mac) and Gifmaker.me (all formats) to name just a few. For the purpose of this quick run through I’ll keep the steps generic – most image applications will work in a similar way.

Firstly select your video clip (.mov, .avi, .mpg .mpeg and .mp4). Remember that gifs work best when kept short so you may need to trim your video in a video editing application like iMovie or Movie Maker.

Open your application and select how much of the video you want to work with. Once imported, your gif will split into separate layers/frames – the longer the video clip the more layers/frames there’ll be in your gif.

At this point you could customise the gif by adding overlay text or graphics to the relevant layers/frames. This may take some technical know how to get the best outcome.

Then, when you’re ready you can save your animated .gif. Depending on your application you might need to specify that the gif file is ‘animated’ – if there’s a box for that, make sure it’s checked.

When you save your gif you should try to make the file size as small as possible — no bigger than 1MB. This might mean tweaking your images bit. The easiest way to cut down your gif is by resizing its dimensions.

The ‘Colours’ setting should be set to 256 – the highest setting. You also want the ‘Dither’ setting to be as high as possible and ‘Lossy’ should be as low as possible. You’ve now created your animated gif to insert into your tweet.

These can be then be viewed on twitter.com, most tablets,  smartphones & iPhones but at present can only be posted via twitter.com. I hope this brief overview has expanded your perception of this new format and the opportunities that animated gifs can offer your business and you now see them as more than just the next funny cat playing a piano clip.

What’s next?

Well, an interesting ‘spin-off’ of animated gifs is the way people are manipulating them at a layer level to create 3D animated gifs. 3D really? Well sort of, although I like to describe them as ‘perspective’ gifs where they give the illusion of depth with the clever use of vertical white lines within the gif.

If you want to know more about animated gifs and their advertising/promotional opportunities or need help creating your own for Twitter, Tumbr or even Google+ get in touch with me at http://paulkirkdesign.co.uk

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