The Animated GIF Renaissance: How Today’s Trends are Helping Animated GIFs Make A Comeback
by Anna Julow August 30th, 2012
Image Source: The Atlantic Wire
We are in the midst of a grand animated GIF renaissance. (Thanks to Ann Friedman for the eloquent terminology.) These little moving pictures are nothing new. In fact, animated GIFs have been around since 1987, before most people even had a home computer.
And indeed, there is something nostalgic about animated GIFs. They take me back to the days of AOL instant messenger, MySpace and dial-up—“I’m going to go make a sandwich while this loads”—Internet.
But even as the GIF renaissance began, I didn’t readily re-accept them into my web vernacular. So long as they were reserved to Reddit threads and silly Tumblr blogs with ridiculously long titles (#whatdowecallsocialmedia), I didn’t really think much of it.
Yes, just like the jean vest of yesteryear, animated GIFs are back.
Four Trends Pushing Animated GIFs to Popularity
So what caused the shift? How did this cheesy MySpace staple and Tumblr punch line become part of professional journalism? Animated GIFs have found recent success because they play into a number of other trends.
The Instagram Trend
Animated GIFs are a throwback format, much like Instagram, and play into our desire to see the world though a new lens. They also fit with our desire for more visual content.
The Trend of Short Attention Spans
Animated GIFs provide clips of video in short-digestible bursts—in much the same way infographics sum up whole articles—allowing a story to be condensed.
The Mobile Trend
Animated GIFs don’t require Flash, which means it works in any browser on any device, playing into the trend of mobile. There are also a number of apps, such as including Cinemagram and GIFBoom that allow smartphone users to create animated GIFs using their phone’s camera.
The Trend of Citizen Journalism
Animated GIFs are incredibly sharable and fit with the trend of major news publications incorporating user generated content, like tweets and Facebook posts, into mainstream journalism.
Animated GIFs help to bridge the gap between still images and video, two things essential to any organization’s online strategy today. They follow the pattern of early adoption by niche groups that other popular online entities, like Pinterest, have followed. They fit with today’s trends. So, are animated GIFs the next big thing in social media marketing? Only time will tell.
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