Steve Whilhite settled the long-running argument in May 2013 about the proper pronunciation for his creation, the Graphic Interchange Format—or GIF.
Simply put… “It’s pronounced JIF, not GIF.”
Regardless of your phonetic preference, they can be a great way to bring a different element to your spectrum of content. I use them to highlight Youth Specialties‘ value of fun in our digital communities. Here’s a quick look at how I do it:
Giphy = the GIF search engine
I don’t have time to create the images myself, so I use Giphy to find what I need. You can search their GIF database by category, favorites, and keywords. Sometimes I go into the search with a specific GIF in mind, other times I browse the most recent or favorites section to look for inspiration.
A couple things to note:
- Think about where you’ll be posting your GIF and use those size limitations to narrow your search. Instagram works best with squared images. Facebook’s newsfeed might cut off a portion of the GIF. A taller and slimmer GIF might look better on your blog.
- Don’t ignore context. Some GIFs are created from scenes in movies or TV shows that aren’t kosher. Out of context, the GIF might be hilarious. But for those that have seen it in context, they might find it insensitive. If you don’t know where a GIF came from, do a little research to triple check that you won’t have a backlash online. If you can’t figure out exactly where it came from, it’s best to leave it alone. You’re bound to find another or even a better option with Giphy’s database.
MemeCenter’s GIF Maker
Once I find the perfect GIF, I use MemeCenter to tie it into the world of our youth workers. You can create a custom sized template, import the GIF with it’s Giphy URL, resize it, and then add verbiage to it. If you’re feeling really fancy, you can combine images, add in new ones, and incorporate all sorts of other changes to spice up the GIF.
When the creation is complete, I typically save the GIF to my computer and sometimes upload it back to Giphy because of it’s sharing capabilities on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. You can check out quite a few of them on the YS Instagram.
You certainly don’t have to do that kind of customization. There might be GIFs that communicate the message better than you could have and all you need to do is add a little context with a caption on Facebook.
It’s important to know how you plan to share content before you create it. Be thinking about all of your social media platforms, blog posts, and emails where you could use it. You might not want to share it across all of those at the same time. I typically spread it throughout the week because each avenue has a different kind of response each day of the week.
GIFs are such a great way to be creative, have a little fun, and showcase more of the humanity behind your organization. Give it a shot and let me know how it works for you.