Will GIFs Change the Way We Communicate? - 1

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Will GIFs Change the Way We Communicate? - 1
Conner Burt is head of partnerships and sales for Lesson.ly, an Indianapolis-based startup that digitizes and simplifies employee training, client onboarding and corporate education. He moved to the Triangle in September 2013 to open a local Lesson.ly sales office at HQ Raleigh. He also coaches men's soccer at North Carolina State University.

New to GIFs?

I'll catch you up. An animated GIF, pronounced "JIF" like the peanut butter, is really just a compressed series of moving images.

They've been around since the late 80s but have seen a resurgence thanks to Tumblr and popular media. Just in the last few weeks, we've seen President Obama take a stance on its pronunciation, Twitter allow GIFs in its timeline, and a GIF search engine raise $2.4M.

So, what's the craze? Are GIFs a passing FAD or are they here to stay?

I believe they're here to stay.

What we know is that people like short interactivity. Look at Vine and Instagram Video. These are six to 15 seconds long. They're easy to create, and they're typically more compelling than a photo.

GIFs have staying power because, since they're technically an image, they can be used anywhere an image can be used: email, text messages, blog posts, chat, now tweets, etc. They easily communicate humor, a mood or simple ideas, and they don't put a play button between you and the action. Combined, all of these elements seem to create a win.

At Lesson.ly, GIFs have become part of our culture. Here are a few ideas on how to use them to communicate in fun or interesting ways:

1. Email: All but two email clients support animated GIFs. We welcome new clients with a fun GIF like this one:

Will GIFs Change the Way We Communicate? - 2

And even update our users on new product features using GIFs like this:

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Use searchable databases to find what you like and simply drag them into your messages (gmail users will find it a breeze). Or, create your own GIF if you have an inkling of design skill.

2. Team Chats: If your team uses HipChat, Flowdock or a team chat alternative, you might consider a Bort. Our robot responds to inquiries with RANDOM GIFs- sometimes funny, other times absurd. It keeps things light-hearted. It's like having a personal SIRI for GIFs. @bort, GIF me awesome.

Will GIFs Change the Way We Communicate? - 4

3. Sales and Prospecting: Your cold emails and calls may be getting ignored- the key to connecting with people is being unique. Try something new. Show prospects you've done your homework by creating custom GIFs. With a nice little utility called Licecap, you can create your own. Like this one:

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4. Text Messaging: Lastly, for fun, surprise and delight your friends/colleagues with text messaged GIFs. I like a simple app called Nutmeg that easily allows you to choose and send a GIF for the mood you're trying to convey. Type GIF in Product Hunt for all the best GIF products.

Finally, like any good thing, moderation will be key. GIFs, if overused, may quickly fall into a class with selfies, #hashtags and badges. But for now, go have some fun and spice up the way you communicate.