Social Media Trend: Find Beauty in Brevity

With the animated GIF, people can turn brief exchanges on the Web into moments of beauty.

In the come-and-go world of social media, brevity is sacred. After all, attention is a limited resource and we live in at time when people passively consume as many as 3,000 commercial messages a day.

Twitter is built on this principle, with a 140-character ethos that people value for its efficiency—especially as the demand for mobile content increases. Yet, with advancements in visual technologies, brevity isn’t just about efficiency anymore. It’s also about personal expression and beauty.

Witness the surge of a short form of video that loops endlessly—the animated GIF. The technology has been around for nearly three decades, but GIFs are experiencing newfound popularity, not only because they are now easier to create and share, but because of their ability to provide stunning visualizations of ideas.

Yet, the GIF is just one of the many short-form visual technologies supercharging imaginations around the world. Instagram, Pheed, Tumblr and Vine also thrive as outlets for expression and visual commentary—not just archiving.

What This Means

Nonprofits have more opportunities today to tell their stories with tools that don’t require a professional photographer, production studio or big budget.

GIFs and Vine (Twitter’s video service that allows only six-second looping clips) are ideal for highlighting moments of joy, humor and surprise in a short story or for providing a visual commentary.

UNICEF, for example, celebrated moms across the world in a warm devotional Vine video featuring a sequence of women saying “mother” in their native language.

Your Next Steps

Think simple. Try to illustrate one action in seconds.

  • Demonstrate the ease of making a gift to your organization in a Vine video. Vine is a free, downloadable app that operates on start-stop, touch-screen functionality.
  • Stage and capture a staff member writing a check or making a donation from a retirement plan policy to your organization. Caption the video with: “With the flick of a pen, you can change lives in seconds.”
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