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Your Twitter Chat GIF Guide

Tara M. Clapper

You could say I have a bit of a reputation for using GIFs in Twitter chats.

It all started with Tumblr. My competency with reaction GIFs is a result of my time spent on that site. On Tumblr, users post reaction gifs with their reblogs (a way you share or repost on Tumblr, retaining the original source, occasionally known as 'rebagel'). Since Tumblr was GIF-friendly long before Twitter and Facebook, it became a haven for fantastic GIFs.

Now it's pretty fun to do in Twitter chats. It results increased engagement for me, particularly in favorites and adds. Many times, the resulting engagement is from new contacts.

Also, GIFs are super fun to find and use.

How do you master the art of Twitter chat GIF-using? Read on and check out my examples from #cochat!

Find Those GIFs

Here are a few sources for reaction GIFs. Note: Some of these may contain NSFW images, offensive images or things you may find inappropriate.

If you're looking for a particular scene, character, actor or other personality, try searching for them individually (i.e. Seth Rogen GIFs).

While GIFs depicting popular scenes and characters are potentially popular, you can also catch attention in a Twitter chat or in general with something original or new:

Check Your GIFs

Make sure you watch a GIF loop through once or twice before you decide to save and use it. Some of them have profanity, inappropriate jokes or other images spliced in. This could be important if you want to avoid (or embrace) profanity or potentially offensive content for your branding.

Additionally, make sure your images actually work on Twitter. You could do this with a test Twitter account, but I find it more convenient to find a source with working images and use that source consistently. GIFs from Tumblr seem to hit the necessary specifications for Twitter, but you'll find a mixed bag on Giphy, which crawls the web for animated GIFs.

You can avoid a mishap by saving your GIFs when you're not in the middle of a Twitter chat. I try to save reaction GIFs occasionally when I'm bored or need a break from editing or blogging...or maybe when it's Friday afternoon and I'm procrastinating my weekly report.

Follow the Rules for GIFs on Twitter

The rules for using GIFs on Twitter are pretty simple:

  • You can't include an animated GIF when selecting multiple images
  • The GIF must loop to play on Twitter (detect GIF animation status)
  • GIFs (like all content posted to the social network) must follow Twitter's content policy

Learn more about using images on Twitter from the Twitter Help Center.

Name Your GIFs

GIFs work best in a Twitter chat when you use them quickly. To help with this, I name my GIFs appropriately, so I know when to use them when certain topics come up. When I provided an answer about teamwork in #cochat, I was able to easily find "thorteamwork.gif."

Not only does this GIF exemplify teamwork, it shows some popular characters (The Avengers rule!) and visually expresses my appreciation for the rest of the SEMrush marketing team! The rest of my saved GIFs are named accordingly.

Think About Frequency

Although I'm known as 'that person who uses Thor gifs during Twitter chats,' I try not to be too obnoxious about it. It's not funny or cute when GIFs are overused or posted with every answer. Plus, I don't want to steal the show, especially if I'm not a guest on a Twitter chat or running it myself.

I'd rather retain it as a quirk associated with my personal brand than something that's only funny for a short time.

I suggest reserving GIFs in Twitter chats for:

  • Beginning of the chat or promotion
  • End of the chat, thank you or goodbye
  • When it's especially germane to the topic at hand – when you have that really good answer you think should get noticed and RT'd:

Consider Timing!

Time your gifs well. @ThinkSEM used this GIF to exemplify that #FridayFeeling. Can you relate? I can!

Could you use a drink? @MorganMandriota's clearly ready for happy hour:

Practice Those GIFs!

Don't be shy – give it a try. Hop into a Twitter chat and practice using those GIFs.

You can find me weekly in #semrushchat (Wednesdays at 11 AM ET) and providing insight/annoying our friends at #cochat (Thursdays at 4 PM ET). I also frequent #scottsbizchat, #bufferchat and #inboundhour.

Tara M. Clapper is Technical Editor at SEMrush and Senior Editor at The Geek Initiative, a website celebrating women in geek culture. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter and view her writing portfolio.

Tara M. Clapper

A veteran community member.

Tara M. Clapper is Content Development Specialist at Express Writers and Senior Editor at The Geek Initiative, a website celebrating women in geek culture. Tara is a prolific content creator and an accomplished editor, having written and edited thousands of blog posts, small business websites, and other inbound marketing content through the course of her career. Tara enjoys blogging about SEO copywriting, content management, corporate culture, personal branding, networking and LinkedIn. She has over a decade of experience in digital publishing. Connect with her on Twitter @irishtara
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Either just recently joined or is too shy to say something.

I am a user of TweetChat for participating in Twitter Chats, but that tool, for instance, has no capability for handling gif file attachments at all. Is there a similar tool that does include GIF support?

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