Motion graphics, animated visuals - whatever you call them, images that are brought to life with movement are a proven way of capturing attention on social media.
With 65% of people being visual learners, and 90% of the information transmitted to our brains being visual, motion graphics are a sure-fire way of connecting with your audience.
For a long time, marketers have turned to video to liven up their online marketing, but more recently, we’ve seen GIFs, slo-mo, and loop sequences going viral across the web.
But in an era of long-form content, do these motion graphics still have a place in social marketing?
Why motion graphics are worth using
They add to long-form content
In recent years, various studies have shown that long-form content performs better in SEO terms. Brands are now realizing that in order to maximize discovery, they need to produce high-quality, long-form content, rather than the kind of clickbait marketers once churned out.
But this doesn’t mean that motion graphics are inherently useless. It’s not as if they’re the opposite of long-form.
According to Merle Driver, the head of animation at Social Chain, a piece of long-form content will likely perform better if it includes motion graphics.
Think of it this way - if you were given two identical pieces of long-form content, one with moving elements, supporting graphics and slick transitions, and the other without, which would hold more appeal?
And that's not all - according to Wistia, people spend 2.6x longer on webpages that have videos than those that don’t.
Using motion graphics in your social media marketing can also help to drive more traffic to your site - another bonus for your SEO.
They increase engagement
Motion graphics are proven to be engaging - in fact, Twitter has said that tweets with a GIF see 55% more engagement than those without.
Not only that, they’re highly shareable. According to Brightcove, social video generates 1200% more shares than text and images combined.
Worth considering in your approach.
How to start using motion graphics
When they first popped up online 30 years ago, GIFs were used to display images on rudimentary computers whilst saving memory.
More recently, they’ve become synonymous with social media, and tend to get shared widely around the web. They’re essentially short animated images - accompanied by text captions and sometimes sound - that move in loops.
Creating GIFs is relatively easy, thanks to the huge range of tools available.
Let’s take Giphy as a starting point - to create your own GIF, head to the Giphy the homepage and click on the 'Create' button.
Here, you can choose to either upload an image or video, or you can input a URL of an online video, GIF or image.
For the purposes of this post, I'll show how to make a GIF out of a YouTube video - first, I’ll enter the URL of the YouTube clip in question in the 'Add any URL' field.
As soon as you input the URL, you’ll be taken to the control panel:
Here, the entire YouTube clip is displayed on the left-hand side.
On the right-hand side of the screen, you’ll see two controls, one which lets you choose the duration of your finished GIF, and another which enables you to determine the start time (i.e. where in the YouTube clip you’d like your GIF to start). For extra precision, you can use the up and down arrows.
When you’re happy with the content of your GIF, click 'Continue to Decorate'.
In this next window, you can add a caption to your GIF if you like, as well as a range of animated stickers. You can also draw freely on top of the GIF, or add a filter to alter its appearance.
When you’re happy with your GIF, click 'Continue to upload'.
Here you need to enter the source URL, and you can also any tags which will help your GIF get found by searchers on Giphy.
Once you've entered in the details, click 'Upload to Giphy.'
Once you’ve uploaded it, you'll be able to copy the link and manually paste it into your social media post or on-page content via embed code.
Note that when you go to your Embed code, you’ll need to check the 'Responsive' box so that it works on mobile.
Here's the final product:
Cinemagraphs are a relatively new phenomenon - they're not quite an image, but not quite a photo either. In essence, they're still images with one element subtly moving in a continuous loop.
They’re similar to GIFs, but are generally much higher grade, and are therefore a popular choice for brands wanting to raise the standard above the basic GIF. And while they can be saved as GIF files, this isn’t usually recommended, or necessary, because they're also their own file type.
Cinemagraphs are becoming a popular choice for advertisers and marketers because of their novelty value, and because of the element of surprise they bring to viewers who think they’re looking at a static image, but then realize that part of it is moving.
For those on a budget, there are various “freemium” options which enable you to cinemagraphs for free, and pay for added extras (such as removal of the app logo, or higher quality animations).
Here’s how to create a cinemagraph in the DrawMotion app - within the app, you can choose to either take a photo or upload one from your device.
You can manipulate the image to fit the available image size.
Once you're happy, you can upload your effect (the part of the image that will be moving). You can choose from a small selection of free motion graphic overlays, or pay to download a premium one (they cost around $1 per animation).
When you’ve selected your motion graphic, you can drag it to where you want it on your image. You can also add text, or free drawing effects.
When you’re happy with your cinemagraph, click 'Save' and you’ll be given the option to download it and share it on your social media profiles or on your website.
Time lapse videos are also popular on social media - not only can they add drama to your video clips, but they can also turn long-form videos into shorter ones, so they can be more easily digested and shared.
Filmora is a video editing tool available for Windows and Mac, which also lets you create stylish time lapses. It offers a 1-month free trial, and after that prices start at $39.99 annually.
To create a time-lapse, you need to import a video you’ve already filmed (you can do this within Filmora too).
When you launch Filmora on your computer, the first screen you see will ask you to choose between 16:9, 1:1, 9:16, 4:3 or 21:9 depending on where you’ll be publishing your time lapse.
I’ll choose 1:1 (Instagram).
Click on 'New Project'.
In your dashboard you’ll be asked to import a file (the video clip you’ve already filmed).
Click on the “+” on the video clip to add it to your timeline. You might be asked to match the resolution or frame rate to the project settings, in which case click 'Match to media'.
Now your video clip is in your timeline, click on the speed setting icon, and choose 'Custom setting'.
Within custom speed, drag the dial to the right to speed up your clip. When you’re happy with the speed, click 'OK'.
You can save your clip by navigating to 'File' in the top left and choosing 'Save project'.
Visual marketing is a proven way to improve engagement, drive traffic and, ultimately, increase your bottom line. When done well, it can help you build a cohesive brand, and get you noticed by new audiences.
But visual marketing is moving on from just images and video. With the increase in mobile use, and the ubiquity of cheap and accessible tools, you can mock-up shareable motion graphics quickly and easily, without breaking the bank.
These are just three motion graphics you can get started with. But there are many many more. The key is to play around, test what works (scrap what doesn’t), but above all, use it to support, not replace, your authoritative content.