Sometimes feelings and ideas are more complex than you can possibly convey through text; sometimes even pictures aren’t good enough! Perhaps posting a whole video is too much and embedding a video straight form YouTube feels too extreme. You may be wondering what’s left. How can you fully express yourself now? The answer you may find is: GIFs.

While GIFs may be a funny way to communicate through text message, is it okay to utilize these short animations on Twitter or Facebook to add a little razzle dazzle to your unique message? Whether you pronounce it ghif or jif, let’s put that debate aside for a while to talk about the age old question: to GIF or not to GIF?

The Why

From the days of MySpace to the more current Twitter, chances are you have seen a GIF before, whether you realize it or not. These animated images allow users to express themselves in a way that is a happy medium between a simple image and an elaborate video.

So where’d the idea of a GIF come from? In 1987, Steven Wilhite developed the GIF format as an alternative to plain ol’ black-and-white pictures. Boasting the ability to process up to 256 colors, users could now express themselves and their feelings with more creativity.

Nowadays, GIFs are accessible at the touch of a button through Facebook and Twitter; additionally, it’s not difficult to include these same things in your emails. No matter which way you interact with the world through the internet, these moving pictures are so accessible. Now that you know that this medium of expression is an option, you can go forth and utilize. 

Are you feeling tired? Why just type that out when you could instead use a GIF of a sleepy sloth? 

The How

Do not overuse GIFs. I could repeat that for emphasis, but you get the point. While they may be a fun way to create a more approachable online presence, be careful to make sure that your over-GIF-ing does not drive away your followers. GIFs may be fun, but sometimes using one could be seen as inappropriate.

Be careful to not be unprofessional with the content that you are promoting. Consider the content of the GIF and perhaps what the GIF’s source material may be. Be a responsible and understanding citizen of the internet in general.

If you have a short video or process to show, it’s possible to create a GIF of what you are trying to convey. You can use a wide range of tools, from GIPHY’s GIF Maker to Photoshop, you have options to make it yourself. Using a GIF may be helpful to explain something or share a brief idea of your own.

Above all else:

The End

If you’re interested in keeping your finger on the pulse of what’s hip, consider using GIFs to help keep your message interesting.

And to you, my dear reader: