No, if you animate your Google Plus profile banner, it won’t drive more traffic to your site or have any kind of business impact. However, if you are active on G+ and want a unique way to showcase your brand, it can definitely help you stand out from the crowd. The whole process is pretty simple and involves the use of software that can easily be found for free online.
This method involves using video clips. I’m sure there are other ways to do it, but I got a nice result from this method, so I like to share it.
Step 1: Your video clip.
Choose a video clip that is less than two minutes long. It can be pretty much any aspect ratio. Most video files, by default, are in the 1440 by 1080 range. You can resize this later.
Step 2: Extract still images (frames) from the video using software.
I used a free download of Irfanview. Open your video in Irfanview after you have downloaded and installed it on your computer.
Choose Options -> extract all frames. It helps to create a folder before you do this to keep your images organized. Otherwise, Irfanview will just store them in your TEMP folder.
Step 3: Cropping your images to fit into your Google Plus Profile.
You will have to crop your images so that they fit nicely into the profile banner on G+. Cropping every single image would be a nightmare, so you can do this in Irfanview, as well.
Open the first of your images (001) in IrfanView. Left-click on the image and drag to define a nice rectangular box that outlines the area you want to use. The info bar at the top of the window should show you the current selected dimensions. You need a 5:1 ratio or 980 by 196px (whatever you use, write it down so you can use it in later steps).
Step 4: Get X,Y coordinates.
You will also need the X,Y coordinates for later cropping of your images. To do that, just click at the top left corner of the rectangle you created and hold there. Up at the top of the screen in Irfanview, you will see the XY coordinates of your mouse pointer. Write these down.
You can now get rid of the current window you are working with.
Step 5: Now it’s time to do some batching.
Use the batch function under the file menu. Choose batch->conversion/rename. Make sure you check the “Use advanced Options for Bulk Resize” box and click “Advanced.” The first step is to set up the correct region to crop your image. Remember that you will need just one image for your banner, and it needs to be big (940×180). Use the XY coordinates that you just wrote down, and also enter in your height and width dimensions from earlier.
Step 6: Select your images.
In the batch window, navigate to the images that you want to use (the ones you extracted from your video) and select them all. Tip: hold down the ctrl or command key to select a whole range of them. Click the “add” button near the bottom of the window. Make sure your output folder is selected on the left, then click “start batch.”
The cropped images that are all the right size for your G+ profile should now be in the folder that you selected for output.
Step 7: Making your GIF.
Now that you have all of the images to make your GIF, you have to combine them all. If you have a piece of software you like to use, go right ahead. If you don’t, you can use Photoscape. It’s free and easy to use, and if this is the only thing you plan to use it for, you can delete it right after you’re done.
You can find it here (I used the CNET download link).
Install the program, then run it. Click on the “Animated GIF” icon on the right side of the screen.
In the left pane of the program, you will see your computer’s file structure. Find the images that you have recently cropped. Once you get to them, you will see them all appear in the pane below the file structure. Select one of them, then hit Ctrl-A (Command-A for Mac). Drag all of them into the main work area.
Play with the rate of animation until you are comfortable with how the GIF looks. Note that the number of seconds you set is the amount of time each image is shown to make the whole thing look like a video, but be a GIF. For the video I used, 0.8 seconds seemed to be a good speed. Typically, the bigger the number, the slower the video.
Also set your canvas size, as it may have changed by default when you imported images. I had to revert mine back to 980 px by 196 px.
Once you are satisfied, click the save button. You now just have to follow the steps for uploading your image to Google Plus. You might have to play with it a couple times to get the right look.
What tips do you have to make your G+ profile strand out from the crowd? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.