Pinterest logoPinterest recently announced that it is going to allow users to post animated GIFs.  Animated GIFs are a bit like mini videos (which Instagram already allow). They are typically made from a number of related photos stitched together or may be adapted from a video clip. Initially they will only play on the Web, but Pinterest intends to make them available on mobile devices in the future.

“The well-timed GIF may be the greatest thing to have happened to the internet since emoticons, and lots of people have said they’d love to see playable GIFs on Pinterest,” Pinterest software engineer Ludo Antonov wrote in his blog post. “Starting today, we support GIFs in all their animated glory!”

“Go ahead and send your friend a bit of midday hilarity or start collecting all your favorite GIFs, so you’re armed and ready to unveil them when you’re in the mood for a good laugh” (and the link he uses is actually rather funny!)

One topic of interest has been the fact that they don’t autoplay – something which I personally think is a good thing! I really dislike going to a website and having something automatically start on me, especially when I am trying to work quietly. The move has been led to comparisons of the service to Tumblr, who do autoplay animated GIFs in your news feed. In contrast on Pinterest, GIFs appear as static thumbnails on the board they are pinned to.  You can animate them by hitting the “play” button or enlarging the image.

There are a number of social sites which support animated GIFs. I have already mentioned Tumblr, and Google Plus does too, in fact it’s Auto Awesome feature has an option that creates an animated GIF of sorts from similar photos (which can be really cool!). Facebook is yet to roll them out (but may not be too far behind, especially since the controversial launch of AutoPlay videos last year) and for people looking to tweet an animated GIF, specialist search engine Giphy allows users to tweet GIFs on its site simply by adding the link to the desired file.

What does this mean for marketeers?

Well for a start it means you can have some fun over the next few weeks trying out the new feature if you use Pinterest. Giphy is a great place to start looking for animated GIFs that are ready to use!

The animated gif can be used for a number of things – such as showing different sides of a product for example or a mini tour of a holiday home. A series of quotes, visual demonstration of how to do something (a stitch for a seamstress for example) or a way to show the results of something are just some ways you can use this in your marketing.

Not sure how to get started? See this blog post by digital trends for ideas on getting started creating animated GIFs .

Also, be aware that mobile users right now will only see the first frame and so this should be relevant and engaging where possible.