How to Create Animated GIFs for Twitter

Video content is great and wonderfully compelling, but it sometimes can get lost in the mix. 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.

When Twitter announced users have the ability to post animated GIFs the Internet rejoiced. Animated GIFs are a great way to tell your story (or at least tease it) on social media channels, since humans today keep getting shorter (and shorter) attention spans. 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 GIPHY (which we’re fond of), as the software allows you to craft GIFs directly from a set of photos or a videos. Let’s set aside the actual technical details and focus on the storyline.

Think about some of your client and how they can get more involved in social media. What is it about that industry 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.

animated gifs-sherlock

Oh, the possibilities! You could craft pop culture references that can be shared across the internet, create newscasts scenes from snippets of video from a football game, 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 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 other videos, then you’ll be able to storyboard a GIF pretty easily. If you’ve never done any kind of storyboarding, 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. Assume that you have about 1 second per image, and create a story appropriately. For Instagram, you can use anywhere from 15 to 60 pieces, Snapchat use 10 pieces, and Facebook use up to 45. If you’re creating an animated GIF, use 2-6 pieces.

animated gifs-storyline

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. If you can’t remember them in the story, chances are your audience won’t understand it either.

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

animated gifs-seeya


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