Sharing ExplainerGIFs

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You now have this amazing new power to create ExplainerGIFs. Now what?

My guess is that you work in a situation where you need to communicate ideas quickly and easily. Maybe you are...

  • A teacher or instructor that's working to share ideas or processes with students
  • An entrepreneur hoping to get people to see an idea more clearly
  • A consultant who needs better ways to communicate complex ideas
  • A marketer looking for compelling ways to reach potential customers
  • A trainer or media coach who is interested in adding a new skill to their toolbox.
  • A writer or journalist who needs better ways to communicate ideas.

To understand the utility of an ExplainerGIF, we can look at digital images. Animated GIFs work almost anywhere a digital image can be displayed. They work:

  • In email newsletters
  • On websites
  • In presentations
  • On blogging platforms 
  • On Twitter
  • On Reddit
  • On photo sharing websites

Of course, there is one GLARING exception: Facebook. The social network does not yet allow animated GIFs. Boo.

What's Your Strategy?

Like anything else, it's not having an animated GIF that matters; it's what you do with it.  Here are a few notes to get you thinking...

  • Substitute for Video - Are you currently using video in your work? Are there short videos on your website or lessons? Could they be GIFs instead? 
  • Substitute for Images - That diagram you're using, well, it's kind of boring. If you made an ExplainerGIF would it be more compelling?
  • Substitute for Infographic - Infographics are cool. But you know what's really cool? Animated infographics.
  • A fun take on a boring subject.
  • Teaser for Other Content - GIFs can serve as great teasers for longer form content. For example, we're constantly publishing new videos at Common Craft that are about 3 minutes long. In the process of publishing a new video, we use an image as the "cover" or "poster" for the video. Once I learned to make ExplainerGIFs, I  started to use GIFs instead. These are 20 second experiences that serve as teasers for the new video. Here's an example:

poster image: 


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ExplainerGIFs like the one above have become standards in blog posts and in our email newsletters.  They offer a fundamentally different experience.

GIF Sharing Services

Like YouTube, there are a number of GIF sharing services that can help your GIF get more attention. I've listed a few below:

A Case Study - Content Marketing

At Common Craft we are big soccer fans and in particular, supporters of the Seattle Sounders FC. Over years of going to matches, you get used to the stadium experience. But if you imagine going for the first time, it's kind of confusing. Who are the people singing all the songs? Do I need a rain jacket for my seats? How many people come to a match?

With these questions in mind, I set out to create an ExplainerGIF about the experience (it's below).  The opportunity we saw, aside from helping new fans, was content marketing. Here's the idea...

We branded the GIF with our logo and twitter handle and encouraged people to share it.  We created a page on to serve as the home of the GIF. Then, we posted the link to Reddit and Twitter. We also uploaded the GIF to imgur.   In the first 24 hours, the new page was viewed over 1000 times. An ExplainerGIF gave us a way to create something compelling and worthy of attention.

Here's the ExplainerGIF:

poster image: 

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A Final Note

I am convinced that we are in the verge of (or living in) a second golden age of animated GIFs.  Today the web is full of cat GIFs and GIFs from TV shows. Here's the thing: we can do better. The animated GIF is a powerful and flexible tool. It can solve problems, it can educate, it can inform in a remarkably effective way.

My hope is that you'll use the information in this guide for useful, productive purposes... and that doesn't have to mean boring. Have fun, be creative, make something!

If you have any feedback, ideas or concerns, don't hesitate to contact us. We'd love to see you on Twitter or Facebook, too.

Lee and Sachi LeFever, Common Craft, Seattle, WA, USA


Lee and Sachi Common Craft