How to Create Animated GIFs for Twitter

Quick update: There’s an iOS app Spark that I read about that will help you make GIFs in seconds. You’re welcome. ūüėČ

Video content is great and wonderfully compelling, but it doesn’t play in every environment. Twitter’s media player isn’t always reliable and no form of video plays reliably in email marketing on all platforms. So if you’ve got great short-form video content, how do you make sure it gets seen? Animated GIFs might be one approach to take.

Yesterday,¬†Twitter announced that users now have the ability to post animated GIFs¬†and the Internet rejoiced. Animated GIFs can be a great way to tell your story (or at least tease it) on channels where video files don’t play reliably. The key is to create the story you want to tell, even if only in your head, before you start to pull together images and craft your message.

It used to be that Photoshop was the only way to make animated GIFs, but now with multiple tools, it isn’t so hard to do the technical pieces (no more layers!). Just use search to find a GIF maker or use GIFBrewery¬†(which we’re fond of), as the software¬†allows you to craft GIFs directly from videos. Let’s set aside the actual technical details and focus on the storyline.

Think about some of your favorite animated content; what is it about that piece of content that makes you think or laugh? How can you replicate that feeling for your audience in a relevant way?

For instance, this line from Sherlock always makes me laugh because the scene is fraught with tension in regards to what will happen with Moriarty and Sherlock on the same room, but then he breaks the ice with his line and we laugh.

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Oh, the possibilities! You could craft pop culture references that can be shared across the internet, create newscasts scenes from snippets of video from the World Cup, create a teaser of your video that can be sent out over Twitter and email and link back to the original. BuzzFeed even went so far as to create an entire premiere of a new show, Banshee, entirely in GIFs for your viewing pleasure, but then when does BuzzFeed do anything that isn’t a little wacky?

Ideas are all around you and they don’t necessarily have to be PR or marketing specific messages for your service, product, etc. It can be pure fun for your audience who will enjoy your efforts to make them laugh if it’s relevant enough to what you do.

If you’re already a master at creating a storyline for Vines or Instagram videos, then you’ll be able to storyboard a GIF pretty easily. If you’ve never done any kind of storyboarding for animated GIFs, Vine, or Instagram, then here’s an easy way to get started. Time is of the essence when you’re creating short form video – every second counts. Take a few sheets of plain paper, cut them into quarter sheets, and then lay them out. If you’re doing Vine, use 6 pieces. For Instagram and animated GIFs, use 15:

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Assume that you have about 1 second per image, and create a story appropriately. Now here’s the trick to make sure that you’re telling a compelling story. Take all of the sheets and throw them in the air, then put the story back together. If you’ve got some sheets that you’re not sure fit in or you can’t remember where they go, consider leaving them out, because if you can’t remember them in the story, chances are your audience won’t understand it, either.

Think about how you can repurpose your existing video content for platforms like Twitter, your website (because no one likes auto-play videos that make noise), and email marketing!

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Chel Wolverton
Account Manager, Marketing Technology

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Posted on June 19, 2014 in Content Marketing, News, Twitter, Video

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About the Author

Chel works in the Integrated Services as a specialist who uses her knowledge of marketing technology, analytics, and their strategies to strengthen the agency. She spends her free time rucking, writing and/or gaming, creating art via canvas or photography and listening to JT and/or Black Lab. You’re probably overly familiar with her love of Sherlock (BBC).

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