Cinemagraphs: The Tools to Change Your Social Media Game

First, there were images. Then came videos. And now we have something that combines the best of both worlds, cinemagraphs. These have the charm of still photos. And the interactive nature of videos. But the best part is that they are different from the rest of the traditional motion graphics and animations used in marketing. And that makes cinemagraphs the perfect ingredients to add some extra flavor to your marketing plan.  

So, What Are Cinemagraphs Exactly? Cinemagraphs

Put in simple words, cinemagraphs add motion to images to tell a story. Look at the below example. 


At first, you think it’s just an image. But then you notice the subtle movement of the water pouring and the fire crackling in the background. These elements of surprise are what make cinemagraphs special. 

As brands all struggle to keep up with the evolving trends in content and knuckle down trying to come up with creative content ideas, novel concepts in motion graphics are always a win. That’s why cinemagraphs truly deserve your attention if you don’t already have them in your content plan. 

What kind of movement can you add to create cinemagraphs? Even the sky’s not the limit in this case. Flickering lights, passing clouds, steam from a hot plate of food, swaying leaves – there are options aplenty. 

First Things First, Are Cinemagraphs and GIFs One and the Same?

If you did not already know, GIF stands for graphics interchange format. This is where a traditional video that plays multiple frames in a sequence, is stored in a compressed format. And the video loops endlessly. You will see animated GIFs in a lot of places. The movement here might be on a small scale or a large scale. 

But cinemagraphs are not the same as traditional animated GIFs, you do not have multiple frames playing continuously. The movement here is only on a small scale. Only one or two elements in the still picture are set in motion. Cinemgraphs can sometimes be stored as a GIF file but most designers prefer storing them in traditional video formats to preserve the quality. 

Compare the below examples to understand the difference. 


Animated GIF

Reasons Why Marketers Love Cinemagraphs

1. Enhance the experience 

Designers strive not just to gain attention but also to consistently deliver a memorable experience to the users. As a brand looking to boost your digital presence, you can use cinemagraphs to boost customer experience. 

Cinemagraphs are immersive. So, they stimulate your customers in many ways and ensure that the design is a visual treat for them. 

When your customers constantly see such creative and fun content on your social media pages, they know that they can always expect something new from your brand. And they will be looking forward to fresh content from you. 

2. Motion-sans audio 

Audio is a critical component in any video. But on social media, you should always remember that nearly 85% of the videos are watched on mute. That’s why brands are always curious to create silent videos that deliver a punch even without an audio track. Cinemagraphs are motion graphics that do not contain audio. So, these have the same impact on all customers irrespective of whether the video was played muted or with the sound on. 

3. Strengthen customer engagement 

Engagement rates are higher when the content shared is unique. And it should add value to the customers. Cinemagraphs, like traditional videos, can do both. But without taking as much time as a video and without requiring as much effort as it takes to have a video shoot or design a video from scratch. 

Customers are attracted to content that is authentic and interactive. So, adding cinemagraphs in the right places can help improve engagement. 

4. Faster loading times 

Most brands use animations on their landing pages or even websites and emails mainly to make the content appear more lively. But then animations can have an impact on the loading times of these pages. With cinemagraphs being small files you can maintain the quality of the motion graphic without needing a large-sized file that slows the page down. 

5. Emerge in a competitive space 

Your content strategy can be used as the secret ingredient that gets you ahead of your competitors. The key is to show customers that your brand is different from the rest. You should tell them that your ideas will deliver a better experience. Carefully designed cinemagraphs to can be precursors to this experience that’s in store for your customers.

6. They are easily shareable 

Have you seen how GIFs are actively used in communication across multiple channels? Cinemagraphs have a lot in common with animated GIFs. When you have an interesting concept and a realistic-looking motion in the cinemagraph, your customers will share them on their social media pages. 

7. Cinemagraphs show your creative side 

Every brand needs to consistently depict its personality through images and motion graphics. Since cinemagraphs make it possible to convey emotions and trigger strong emotional responses, you can use them to set the right mood for your brand’s social media page. 

You get to show your brand’s creative side. You can have a good mix of images, Reels (and other short-form videos) as well as cinemagraphs. This way, customers will have a lot to explore. This makes them linger on your feed longer. 

8. The concept isn’t new after all

Don’t believe us, see for it yourself. Netflix, a trendsetter in marketing, created scroll-stopping cinemagraphs for the cult classic series, Stranger Things. This was way back in 2017. So, if you haven’t caught up on the trend yet, you are missing out on a lot. 

Big brands are using them. Your competitors are perhaps ahead in the game too. So, don’t you want to keep up? So, you decide to add cinemagraphs but then comes the question of how can you use motion to drive better engagement or strengthen the communication of your message. Let’s find out. 

How to Use Cinemagraphs in Your Content Plan 

Evoke an emotion 

Take a look at this cinemagraph design by Sprite. 

Businesses in the food and beverage industry need to push their limits in designing ads. They need designs that make people hungry and want them to visualize the food being advertised and crave it. 

In the above example, a still image of a person drinking Sprite will have been sufficient to deliver the message. But will it have evoked the same emotional response like this one? Probably not. It is the subtle motion of Sprite from the bottle that draws a customer’s attention. It is what makes a customer thirsty. And thus gets them to take an action. In other words, think of Sprite or grab one when they feel thirsty. 

When you have the right image for your campaign, identify the one element that will trigger specific emotions in the target audience. Motion in this element will get people to react to your ad instead of just scrolling past it. 

Draw attention to specific elements

In the whole design, there might be areas that need to be emphasized for certain reasons. This could be because this emphasis brings in a fresh perspective. Or because it highlights the strengths of the product or service being promoted. 

Contrast is a concept that is often used to establish a visual hierarchy and thus instantly attract attention to particular elements in a design. 

Sometimes, you have to demonstrate your product without actually focusing too much on the product. That’s when cinemagraphs come into the picture. With a still image, the whole product is in focus. When you set some parts in motion, you are highlighting specific features. Thus depicting what makes the promoted product special. 

Tell a story 

When your marketing visuals tell a story, you will be engaging more customers. This could be the story of your brand or the product you are promoting. Product descriptions convey what the product does. If you want to showcase the product and also set the mood that tells an interesting story to engage the audience, a cinemagraph can help. 

In the above example, the stunning visuals make you stop and take notice. The ad targets adventure-seekers. The misty glow of the headlights delves a little into the nuances of the car. It vibes with adventure-seekers and makes them visualize the next adventure that’s awaiting them. 

By using cinemagraphs you not only talk about the product but also convey who the product is for or when the product feels most relevant. 

Stories are engaging and they give customers the gist of the content without wasting time. So, even if they only look at the post for a brief few moments, they will grab the information. And this strengthens the effectiveness of your post. 

Add to the aesthetics 

Motion in cinemagraphs does not always have to have a strong functional connotation. Sometimes, it is also for aesthetics. A simple image looks so much better when you add mild movements to it. And this can be the factor that sets your design apart from other similar-looking ones on social media. 

Repurpose old content 

Got high-quality images that you wish to reuse in your campaigns? Try creating cinemagraphs out of them. This way, you do not need a new concept. Without all the time taken to brainstorm ideas, you can use existing content to add more value to your social media pages. 

Places Where Cinemagraphs Add Value 

In videos, you can have long-form and short-form videos. There are differences based on the orientation of the video as well. And in images again, you have different resolutions. 

In this confusing mix of content types, if you really wish to make sense of and bring good returns on your investment in design production, you should have clear strategies for segregation. 

You should know where to use them and how. So, once you decide that you will have cinemagraphs created for your brand regularly, you should also have clear plans about where to use them too. You can use cinemagraphs in all places where videos can be used. But to make better sense and to spark your creativity, here are some ideas to try:

Motion That Moves Your Audience 

Bring your stationery content to life with catchy cinemagraphs. Yes, there are many tools that let you add movement to still photos. But if you want a more professional-looking output it is better to work with a professional designer. Designers also ensure that there is no compromise on the quality of the graphic when the motion is added. This way, you will have crisp moving images to adorn your social media pages or ads that grab attention, and emails that earn more clicks.