GIF Me A Reason To Participate In Twitter Chats

Here’s the back story – my good bud along with one of my favourite technology companies were teaming up for a Twitter chat. Great content and a highly engaged audience; win/win, right?

(Full disclosure) it’s been a bit since I hopped on a Twitter chat. I find that a bit funny considering the amount of Twitter chats my former team and I had organized, hosted, participated as guests, or engaged in over the last 7 years. Oh sure, lately I’ve participated by answering a question or two and jumping into a few conversations, but that’s because I see a friend’s tweets, and not because I’ve sat down to closely follow along.

So there I was last week; hashtag loaded, coffee beside me, fingers on the keyboard. I saw the first tweet from the host tech company mentioning that the Twitter chat was about to begin. One of the engaged audience members tweeted how excited they were, with a GIF (it was probably Minions jumping up and down or something). Then another audience member tweeted to the first audience member saying it was good to see them again, with a GIF (let’s say Tina Fey waving while winking).

The host tech company introduces the guest. Alright, now we’re getting somewhere. Bring on the content and conversations. A flurry of hellos to the guest with, you guessed it, more GIFs. The first question is posed and my page keeps refreshing with dozens and dozens of answers. I’m guessing 10% of the answers include, wait for it, wait for it, wait for it, more GIFs. After seven minutes, I give up.

Picard facepalm

It’s shame because I’m sure there’s a whole bunch of information being shared.

What challenges me is the noise to relevance ratio. One tweet with a GIF takes up close to half my screen; so now I’m scrolling and scrolling to find relevant content. Hashtagged conversations were sometimes a challenge in the past based on the noise from spammers and astro-turfers.

Now, some will argue that visual content beats text content.

Dancing Guy GIF

RELEVANT visual content beats text content. Anytime. Yes.

Relevant Content GIF

My presentations are pretty much all images (much to the chagrin of the conference organizers who ask to distribute my decks), I get it. I love data visualizations that leave me wanting more; I love great images that inspire me; I love great videos that evoke an emotional response. A GIF of a guy dancing doesn’t provide any relevance; at least not for me.

I trust this is just a teenage phase we’re going through, like a sophomore social media crowd. A phase that either we’re going to grow out of or one that will evolve into sharing of relevant GIFs. It actually reminds me of the proliferation of memes on LinkedIn. Ooooh, don’t even get me started on that! Must go get started on that post…

Perhaps I should have persevered through five more minutes of the #GIFstorm, and it might have let up. Perhaps I just couldn’t see the forest for the GIFs. But as a marketer I know I have a few sparse moments to grab someone’s attention and keep them engaged.

You’re a sales rep. The Social Media team, who are your champions in one of your top prospects, has invited their CMO to join a Twitter chat to learn how other customers are leveraging and driving revenue with your product. And then, this…

Homer GIF

and this…


You get the point.

My point? Today’s Twitter chats just don’t keep me engaged, anymore. There’s too much noise.

The ironic part, pointed out to me by my friend the guest, was that had I used the solution provided by the host tech company (I so admire), I could have filtered out all the noisy GIFs. But doesn’t that still leave a much bigger issue that Twitter has to deal with if Twitter is going to be used for business engagements and campaigns?

I don’t know; maybe I’m just a grumpy old man? Now, get off my lawn!

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