Gifs on Twitter – Distracting or Attention-Grabbing?

posted on April 6th 2016 in social media & Twitter with 0 Comments

A few weeks ago, we all had a #Gifparty on Twitter as the fun animations got added to our feeds and posting options.

twitter gif

Gifs have been around for a little while on Facebook in posts as well as in messenger, and are even now integrated into Slack. Gifs can be found for almost any situation, and can enhance or hinder a social media post. Since the #Gifparty started on Twitter, our feeds have all been changed. Now brands, personal users, and news sites are using gifs for many situation in their tweets, using everything from movie references, to news clips, charts, and product demos. But are these tweets enhanced, or distracting?

It may depend on how you access Twitter. From a standard feed, you have the choice for videos or gifs to play automatically, or require a click to be played. But if you view them from Tweetdeck, Hootsuite or another platform this may chance; Tweetdeck even offers the ability for you to create a single feed that comprises only tweets with gifs. So a distracting factor may be related to how your feed is shown, but as well as by who you follow. Being distracted by a news site showing quotes of a speaker from a recent event could be useful, but a friend’s post about a kitten, or even a gif from McDonald’s about a cheeseburger may serve as unwelcome distractions.

Regardless, using a gif can enhance the ability for your tweet to be seen, on the basis that tweets or social media posts in general that have images have high impressions and engagement. But gifs are also being shown in news stories and blog posts (see above) themselves, not just tweets. Have you been distracted this whole time by the gif above? Many website allow you to play and pause the gif so you can get on with reading, and Twitter feeds allow the same function.

Gifs, so far, seem to be an easy way to grab attention, without being overly distracting since the viewer has the control to disable them. Admittedly when viewing tweets, I find myself giving more attention to the tweets with the moving pictures than those with standard images. Even the tweets that I’m not interested may garner a little extra attention during the time it takes me to deactivate the gif, which I might not have given with an unmoving image. So gifs can serve to get you to read tweets that you may have normally ignored, tweets that have a teaser gif may pique your curiosity just enough for that link click.

While the line between distracting and attention-grabbing may depend on the single tweet or even just the reader, it’s undeniable that gifs are here to stay.

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