It’s been 27 years since GIFs first came into being. What do you call them? Animated images? Moving pictures with no sound? But then, like a greater author once said, “What’s in a name?” Well, of course, really nothing.
A few decades ago, GIFs were all about defining loud, vulgar cliparts that ran everywhere on adult-only sites. This was how the early Internet had looked and felt like, far beyond the realms of the present-day Internet of things. But, of late, the image format has turned out to be a great medium for thought representation and meaning conveyance via mute, moving pictures. Never has it been used in ways any better than this.
Today, this format has found a new place in blogging channels. Photojournalism has grown even stronger and storytelling, more vibrant with this format. What words fail to express at times can be easily communicated with the correct GIF created. It has turned out to be an expressing medium, so powerful, that even video-sharing and vlogging king, YouTube, is now running tests to make it work for its file sharing option.
How is this format influencing social media?
I’d say both are influencing each other. Visual content is being considered a treat to the eyes and also the neurons. A lion’s share of regular updates on the range of social media is largely denoted by these seconds-lasting mini soundless video-like moving pictures. The auto-loop makes them more appealing as they can be watched over and over again without the user having to do anything.
The revolution started with Tumblr, the microblogging site. Before this, GIF was only rotting in the weird web of yesteryears, upon tacky X-rated sites. The social media platform’s Explore page made it a top tag, encouraging people to share more of it. And of course, with this, there was a surge of GIF creators and rippers. Viral materials were soon seen passing from one mobile device to another, all thanks to these mini media of storytelling.
Next was BuzzFeed, which used the decades-old format for photojournalism. After a post in this platform titled ”Life In Your Early Twenties vs. Life In Your Late Twenties” managed to attract over two million page views within just 3 days, almost anything that hits upon the platform, now, immediately goes viral.
Ironically, following the footsteps of such newlings, Google, too, launched an exclusive filter in its image search engine that could bring out pictures of the format if a user commanded so. And not only Google, there were certain apps, too, like ‘Vine,’ ‘Cinemagram’ and ‘GifBoom,’ that had their share of patronage from the popularity of the format. And now, even YouTube has been gripped by the fervor, at long last.
Is it the latest fad, or it is going to last longer?
Firstly, this is no fad, that’s for sure. For those platforms where the format hasn’t yet been enabled, just know this – a month back, even YouTube was working sans it. Twitter, as of now, has not embedded the format, although the possibilities cannot be neglected viewing the ‘Twitter Cards’ it has introduced for a variety of content kinds.
Of all places on the web, the format has seen a positive promise within blogs. Content marketing using this format is slowly gaining more acclaim and adoration. Photojournalism sees its face and future in its usage. GIFs are no longer silly moving pictures created in the devil’s workshop of idle brains. They are the spinners of short yarns, the teller of extraordinary tales. And, the Internet is, truly, madly, deeply in love with them.