How to Pick the Right GIF? Read this Q&A with Tommy Berry (@mrtommyberry)

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Photo via flickr:

Tommy Berry (@mrtommyberry) is Social Media Manager at VMware. I met Tommy via Rich Schwerin (@Greencognito), who used to work with Tommy.

After Rich introduced us, Tommy and I followed each other on Twitter. We have a number of common interests and find ourselves replying back and forth on each other’s tweets.

Tommy is a master of finding the right GIF for any occasion. This dart player is how I picture Tommy picking out his GIFs:

I love to find an entertaining GIF to capture a thought or sentiment. I find that Tommy’s selections, though, are at a whole different level. Here’s a recent one that had me LOL’ing:

Interview with Tommy Berry about GIF Selection

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Tommy Berry, Social Media Manager at VMware (and GIF super master)

Tommy was kind enough to answer questions about GIFs that I sent him via email.

How do you decide when to use a GIF?

GIFs are authentic and engaging content that should be used both personally and professionally.

If I’m looking for a quick response to a tweet, GIFs are a great way to add context or emotion into a much shorter message.

When using a GIF, do you include additional commentary?

I like to let the GIF speak for itself. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a GIF is worth much more. If the GIF generates a response, I’ll include the additional commentary.

Tell us a few secrets for selecting GIFs

Don’t overthink it. Whatever reaction pops into your head, type that exact word. Try not to select the first few GIFs, as they are too common and overused. Scroll down for 3–5 seconds and you’ll find some gems.

You want to communicate surprise. What are the search terms you’d use?

Again, keep it simple. I would type “wow,” “surprised” or “omg” and select the most relevant option. Trust your gut and try to choose the GIF that best describes your initial reaction to the tweet.

Sometimes I can’t find the right GIF and give up. How about you?

Can’t find the right GIF? Don’t sweat it — believe me no one else is thinking about it as much as you are.

Select the best GIF that you can at the time and know there will be plenty of other opportunities to use them again. Or choose a cat GIF, those never fail.

When SHOULDN’T you use a GIF?

Know your audience. If I’m replying to my CEO’s tweet, chances are I’m not going to use a GIF. Replying to Dennis or another peer? Absolutely!

Emojis? 🤓

When I use GIFs, I tend to let the GIF do the talking. When I reply with text, emojis are a great way to add emphasis or humor. Don’t overdo it though, 1–2 is plenty (like hashtags).

Will humans communicate exclusively via GIFs in the near future?

Not completely, no, but I think we are taking steps in that direction. GIFs are easy to share, trendy, and can display your fun side — things that many companies overlook today.

What’s the future of online communication?

Social isn’t going anywhere. The platforms we know and love today may change, but the ability to connect with anyone, anywhere at anytime is so important.

I think the problem we are running into is companies are forgetting to be social on social media. Don’t use it as a broadcast tool, focus on the relationships. Be genuine.

Note: Read a guest post that I wrote on Corina Manea’s blog — the title is “How to Be Social in the Age of the Algorithm.”

Thanks for sharing your wisdom, Tommy!

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