Cinemagram: bringing animated GIFs to the masses?

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At FreshNetworks, we love sharing photos on Instagram and think that social photography is only going to grow in popularity over the next few years. But how about combining the great filters of Instagram with video to make arty, shareable animated GIFs? That’s the idea behind Cinemagram, a brand new iPhone app launched last month.

While animated GIFs are hardly new (you might even dare to call them “retro”) - the availability of smart phones means that any day-to-day moment can be captured, and of course there will be many who use the new platform in truly innovative ways.

Animated GIFs are big news on Tumblr and fashion-focused social networks, and can be made and shared in a matter of minutes with Cinemagram. You simply point and shoot a three second video, select the part you want to animate and then add an Instagram-esque filter.

How can brands use Cinemagram and animated GIFs?

With their quirky movements and retro feel, GIFs liven up any static webpage, and can make for extremely engaging visual content.

Brands could capitalise on the popularity of GIFs by creating branded versions for their own blogs. These could be highly shareable with the audiences they are working with on these platforms. Alternatively, thanks to the simplicity of GIF creation, there could be great opportunities for brands to showcase user-generated Cinemagrams of their products, their fans or more.

Interestingly, some of the top fashion blogs on Tumblr such as Topshop and Urban Outfitters hardly use GIFs at all – perhaps they are missing an opportunity here, especially considering the Burberry Google+ page has already taken advantage of animated GIFs for their page header.

What are the limitations (for now)?

Just like Instagram, Cinemagram is currently only available for iPhone users. Unfortunately, the functionality of Cinemagram isn’t quite up to scratch compared to Instagram. One of the main problems with the app is that you currently cannot upload existing content from your phone to use.  This could be a major problem from a brand perspective as it means that the footage you use is not edited or shot on a high quality camera. However, conversely, this could lead to some really interesting behind-the-scenes shots.

Another issue with Cinemagram is that it is lacking some of the social functionality that Instagram has introduced. For example, whilst you can instantly share your creation via your social channels, you cannot follow users within the app in the same way that you can on Instagram.

Cinemagram is certainly an attractive app and every time I’ve shown it to someone they have instantly downloaded it. However, it will be interesting to see whether it can challenge the might of Instagram – perhaps this could be a function that Instagram themselves roll out in their next update.