Do you remember that day you updated your smartphone’s Facebook app and discovered that they’d finally integrated GIFs? It wasn’t long ago, although GIFs have been around for ages. That’s because it took a long time for Facebook to jump into the GIF bandwagon. Even Mark Zuckerberg himself was reluctant to GIF. But he made up his mind, and we should all get a lesson from it.

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Old but never outdated

GIF is old, yes. In technology standards, GIF is almost prehistoric, launched in 1987 as an alternative to heavier, higher-resolution animated file formats. It’s turning 30 next year, and it shows through its 256 colours-only. So how come it’s still around? How come it’s even the hottest stuff in social media right now?

Here’s why we think it made it through, and why you should go for it.

First up, everyone on the internet has early onset nostalgia. Throwback Thursday. Facebook memories. We all love a good cry about how much we miss the past. And as said earlier, GIF is OLD. And because it’s old, it means it’s compatible with about any device since the dawn of personal computing, and is feather light.

Secondly, we like our visual content to move about a bit. Video content gets no less than 8 billion views every day on Facebook. And it is still the leading social media network (with 1.59 billion monthly active users), so it’s worth knowing what’s popular over there.

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Third, they’re so simple. The attention span of the average human today is eight seconds. GIFs are typically two seconds long. You do the maths!

Fourth and finally, visual content is over 40x more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content. Fact. We’ll all prefer watching friends’ videos to reading their 15-lines long status. So it definitely beats lazy, text-only tweets and boring status updates.

So, let’s see: we have a file format that’s downright visual, keeps us interested by being all animated and short, and, because it’s OLD, works absolutely everywhere. Sure, it looks a little weird sometimes with its 256 colours only, but we sort of like that. It’s vintage. It’s cool. Just like a good Insta-filter.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Strang

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