July 11

All about GIFs

Last week I attended the National Speakers Association annual conference, and I found the resources of an amazing presenter. He shares tips to make your PowerPoints awesome, including adding GIFs to your slides.

I was fired up, like…

So I started investigating the world of GIFs.

To be honest, GIFs have always been kind of a mystery to me.

They’re seemingly pointless little loops of pictures or videos that seem to be added to online material to make a point, make you laugh or, well, just be stupid. On occasion, you’ll find a few that educate, like these on BuzzFeed.

GIFs show up everywhere, and we should all learn how and when to use them.

The Basics

GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format, and Wikipedia says it was introduced by CompuServe in 1987. Although many people pronounce it like the word “gift” without the “t,” it’s supposed to rhyme with the peanut butter, Jif. I’ve been saying it incorrectly for years.

An animated GIF is basically a series of pictures with a teeny tiny time delay between them. Animated GIFs are the little movies we’re seeing all over the web. When we use them in social media and online, we can embed others’ GIFs or create our own.

Great Places to Find GIFs

One thing I discovered is that GIF repositories are frequently not safe for work.

I found a lot of funny/clean ones at Reaction GIFs. You can Google GIF and find lots of sites with lots of cuss words on your own, so I won’t post them here. GAnd you have super cute GIFs with cats galore.

Tumblr has really given GIFs a home, and you can find a ton on there.

Before we get to making your own GIF, we should talk about using GIFs in your business and the issue of copyright. Legally it’s best to avoid copyrighted material for commercial uses (marketing, business websites, etc.). But in reality, if you grab a Big Bang Theory GIF now and then, you will probably be ok. I said “probably,” and I mean it. Check with your legal advisors before using GIFs and memes that you didn’t create from images you own yourself.

GIFs and Social Meda

As I mentioned before, Tumblr has really ruled the GIF world for some time. Facebook, not so much. A site called Giphy (which also has an amazing selection of shareable GIFs) kind of makes it possible, but when I put my first GIF on my page, it worked sometimes and not others. Twitter started using technology that lets you share GIFs in a feed by converting them into something that plays. Vine shares little videos that aren’t exactly GIFs, but now when you share a Vine on Tumblr, it will convert to a GIF.

Got all that?

Making Your Own GIFs

Speaking of your own GIFs, I made my first two with imgflip. Here’s my first GIF ever, made with pictures from a recent event.

And here’s one I made from video from my iPhone. That’s my kitten Copy and the hubby.

I also made a cute text GIF with a new iPhone app called Ultratext. I had to convert it to a movie file for some annoying reasons, but the app lets you text it as GIFs.

Other awesome GIF makers:

  • GIFMaker.me (web)
  • Recordit: screencaptures turned into GIFs (web)
  • GifBoom (iOS/Android)
  • Cinemagram (iOS/Android)

What about you? What are your favorite GIF makers?


communication, design, graphics, just plain fun, social media, video

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  • I always thought of animated gifs as old school but they are the new cool! Very helpful post Beth. Thanks!

  • Ultimately I find GIFs annoying when surfing, but this tutorial was GREAT! Thanks for taking the time to educate AND illustrate their creation, (cuz I didn’t know much about them either) … and you never know – I might find the perfect use for one tomorrow!

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