It's been a big week for GIFs, the animated image format used by Internet users the world over. On Friday, President Obama settled (for some, at least) the controversy over whether GIF is pronounced "jif" or "gif," saying that he prefers the latter.
And on Tuesday, Twitter announced that the microblogging service will begin to support GIFs in tweets shared and viewed on the web, iPhone and Android. Characteristically, the company made the announcement through a tweet:
— Twitter Support (@Support) June 18, 2014
GIFs were introduced by CompuServe way back in 1987, and as Internet connection speeds have improved over the years the image format has gained widespread popularity as a portable way to share animations on the web. Users and publishers alike have turned to GIFs to share moving images because unlike many video formats, which require more complex coding for embedding and viewing, GIFs are supported almost everywhere. That everywhere now includes Twitter.
In your Twitter feed, GIFs will appear in tweets as static images with a white play button in the center. After clicking the play button, the animation will begin to play on a loop. When viewing a tweet on its own, though, the GIF will begin to play automatically.
For professional communicators, who already know the power of images to increase visibility of a tweet, Twitter's incorporation of GIFs adds a new, welcomed wrinkle to that strategy that will have social media managers feeling like this guy:
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