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The Thoughtful Way to Use GIFs for Your Brand

Thoughtful-GIFs

GIFs are often looked at as silly and unprofessional, but they can actually be used thoughtfully to help your serious organization—from high-end retail to nonprofits—stand out on social media and better connect with your audience visually.

The key difference between a GIF of dancing cats that likely has no value for your business and a GIF that helps your campaigns succeed is investing in this form of media correctly.

GIFs can be used on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine and elsewhere to make content more compelling and provide context better than words or a static image would be able to.

Using GIFs on social media can work to spur engagement, as adding visuals to your Tweets boosts Retweets by 35%, while Facebook posts containing photos accounted for 87% of all network interactions in 2014.

Currently, most organizations overlook the addition of GIFs into their social strategy, which only creates more opportunity for your content to succeed. So let’s look at how to regularly incorporate this visual media into your messaging with purpose.

Adding visuals increases Retweets by 35%.
Source: Twitter, 2014

Create GIF-Specific Guidelines

Start by making an addition to your existing social media guidelines to outline the best ways to use GIFs for your brand and incorporate best practices.

This process should align the creation of GIFs with your brand’s identity visually in terms of color palette, font preference and logo treatment as well as your strategic approach to serving the right messaging to the appropriate audience. That is to say, jumpy, jerky and overly repetitive GIFs are probably not the type of GIFs your organization should be producing.

Keep it simple when it comes to developing GIFs that engage and add value to what you’re sharing on social. The UN Climate Change Conference shared a straightforward GIF on Twitter that animated its name, hashtag and the date of its event, which all aligned with the visual branding of the conference used across other channels.

Add Value by Educating

GIFs applied with purpose can educate your audience, illustrating each step of a process, acting as a how-to guide or even adding a bit of humor to an otherwise dry subject.

Educational GIF

Credit: designmodo

Educational GIFs can showcase the features of a website or an app, which are often hard to describe with words or static images and usually require video production. The looping aspect of a GIF is more helpful when trying to educate your audience on certain subjects, allowing them to review it as many times as they’d like until the concept resonates.

Partner With Influencers

To start creating GIFs that will resonate, work with influencers who are known for creating this type of media, whether that’s on Tumblr, Vine or Twitter, which depends on the type of audience you’re trying to reach.

Jansport GIF

JanSport recently worked with Tumblr influencer FashGif to develop a set of GIFs that featured its backpack product in a fun and interesting way that appeals to the younger demographic found on the blogging social network.

Ahead of the “Terminator Genisys” movie release, Paramount Pictures partnered with six GIF artists on Giphy, the GIF search engine, to reimagine the characters and moments throughout the movie from their perspective. Their expertise in GIF making, coupled with a unique angle to the iconic movie series, yielded a suite of visuals prime for social sharing.

Terminator GIF

With a built-in audience and an expertise in GIF making, partnering with an influencer can ensure a campaign with this type of media drives results.

Use Cinemagraphs to Create Depth

An often overlooked form of GIFs to use are cinemagraphs, which are images where only a certain area within the photo is in motion. These are another way to showcase your content on social media, helping to better optimize it to stand out.

Fashion GIF

Credit: cinemagraphs.com

In the example above, cinemagraph makes the fashion-focused image more compelling by drawing the viewer’s eye to the featured product.

The point of using a cinemagraph is to not only stand out among the noise on social but also to bring more life to your brand’s story to better connect with customers. Review Giphy, Imgur and Tumblr to get inspiration from the existing GIFs being shared today both from brands and consumers alike to understand what your range of options are.

What hesitations does your organization have investing in GIFs? Which channels are you most likely to share GIFs with your audience? Share in the comments below.

This post The Thoughtful Way to Use GIFs for Your Brand originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

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Social Media Secrets: 5 Under-the-Radar LinkedIn Features for Marketers

Under-the-Radar LinkedIn Features for Marketers

Under-the-Radar LinkedIn Features for Marketers

It's plain to see that B2B marketers, at large, see the value in social media. The latest B2B benchmarking research from CMI and MarketingProfs found that nearly two out of three respondents (61%) increased their usage of social media for content marketing purposes in the previous year. Another new report shows that social content is atop the list of focal areas for B2B marketers in the coming year.

It’s also fair to say, based on various data points and conversations with folks in the biz, that most of us feel we could be doing better with social. The size of the audiences on these platforms make them essential to any digital strategy, but breaking through suppressive algorithms and showing clear ROI is a perpetual challenge for brands.

One pivotal key to excelling with social media marketing is understanding all the tools you have at your disposal. Each platform offers a number of capabilities that seem to be underutilized by marketers who either don’t know they exist, or don’t fully recognize their potential impact.

With this in mind, we’re setting out to highlight some of the most useful yet overlooked features for driving results on social media platforms. Today we're focusing on the channel most pertinent to B2B marketers: LinkedIn*, with its member base of more than half a billion professionals.

Take Notice of These 5 Marketing Tools & Features on LinkedIn

Whether your goal is building brand awareness, generating leads, or boosting conversions, these five fundamental functionalities can provide a big assist if you aren't taking advantage of them already.

#1: Robust (and Now Simplified) Audience Targeting

LinkedIn recently overhauled its Campaign Manager tool (the interface through which marketers build, manage, and measure ads) around an objective-based advertising framework. The basic purpose of this initiative was to make it easier for users to align every element of their campaigns with the overarching objective. One of the slickest improvements to come out of this is the audience setup experience, which is now simpler and more intuitive.

From a B2B marketing perspective, the depth of available professional targeting parameters is by far LinkedIn’s biggest relative advantage compared to other social platforms. Nowhere else can you accurately filter audiences based on facets such as Job Title and Job Seniority. This provides unparalleled ability to reach decision makers and purchase influencers directly.

The revamped interface makes it quicker and more straightforward to select a qualified audience in line with your campaign goals.

[embed]https://youtu.be/AAx60JxxWFg[/embed]

#2: Revamped LinkedIn Analytics

The latest Social Media Marketing Industry Report via Social Media Examiner found more than half of respondents (54%) either uncertain or disagreeing that they are “able to measure the return on investment (ROI) for my organic social media activities.”

This is another area of Campaign Manager that LinkedIn recently spruced up. Given that advertising on this platform tends to be more expensive than other social networks, it’s especially important to ensure you’re getting return on that spend. The new reporting experience makes it easier to see results at a glance, and make optimization tweaks on the fly.

The underlying appeal of LinkedIn’s targeting facets also applies to its reporting mechanism; you can get an aggregated look at who is viewing and engaging with your content (i.e., which companies, which job titles, which experience levels). These insights can help you align your LinkedIn strategy and even your content marketing strategy more generally.

#3: Content Suggestions

Can’t figure out what to share on social media? That’s a common enough challenge. The Content Suggestions tab, found on the top nav bar within LinkedIn Page admin center, offers ample inspiration. It serves up a list of third-party articles your defined audience is engaging with — essentially a readily available stream of targeted, trending content.

Not only does this make it easy for marketers and social media managers to find share-worthy content that’s more likely to resonate with their followings, but it can also fuel employee advocacy efforts.

#4: Website Retargeting

Retargeting is a popular digital marketing tactic, which involves serving ads to people who’ve already encountered your brand. The element of familiarity, plus a concrete demonstration of past interest, tends to drive considerably higher clicks and conversions than standard ads.  

Through its Matched Audiences feature, LinkedIn allows you to place a pixel on your company’s website, then serve ads to people who’ve visited it before, while they’re on LinkedIn. It’s a great way to follow up with someone in a different context. One especially savvy approach is to create customized retargeting creative based on the specific section of your site a person visited (i.e., upper-funnel messaging for someone who went to your “About” page, and lower-funnel for someone who checked out a solution page.)

[embed]https://youtu.be/SgXlOH-1pPk[/embed]

#5: Lead Gen Forms

This might be my favorite marketing tool on LinkedIn, and it definitely seems like one that more B2B brands could be utilizing. Lead Gen Forms are leveraged in combination with various types of ads, enabling your company to collect valuable contact info (and additional data about a prospect) from an individual who downloads something of value with minimal friction.

Unlike most gated-asset forms, which require a user to tediously fill out multiple fields, Lead Gen Forms automatically populate based on the member’s LinkedIn profile data. As such, it takes only a couple of seconds to get through the process. Because you’re attaining a more comprehensive snapshot of people who download, you can better qualify them as leads in comparison with other form-fills that often procure only a name, phone number, and email.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34Xe1E59N6A&feature=youtu.be[/embed]

Step Up Your LinkedIn Marketing Game

LinkedIn can be one of the most valuable components of a holistic B2B marketing strategy. As mentioned earlier, there’s no denying it’s a pricier place to play than most other social networks, but you’re also paying for access to a higher-quality audience. Using the five features above can help you understand, segment, reach, and engage this audience efficiently while closely tracking the impact of your efforts.

Another underutilized tool on LinkedIn is video, which has been a key focus for the platform recently. Learn about all the metrics and specs for video on LinkedIn, as well as every other major social network!

*Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post Social Media Secrets: 5 Under-the-Radar LinkedIn Features for Marketers appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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