In J.S. Stansel’s when it comes to using branded GIFs for your college or university, You get a GIF, you get a GIF, you get a GIF…EVERYONE gets a GIF.
At the University of Central Arkansas, Stansel’s GIFs have been a huge success. He think, as Gretchen McCulloch says, that GIFs allow us to be more human online.
And making branded GIFS offer huge wins for your school, he says. “It’s easy to use branded content for your stakeholders,” Stansel said. It also helps to avoid embarrassment from problematic GIFs. And it focuses attention on your institution, not another property.
“It’s much better to get the name of your institution out there rather than say Arrested Development,” he said.
You can reuse existing campus graphics by adding slight movements like a shake, which gives your offices another source of branded content. “We have offices clamoring for GIFs,” he said.
Stansel got UCA’s president to star in a series of GIFs that have been wildly popular with students. If you can’t use your university president, there are other options, he said.
Stansel has embraced the creation tools of the aggregation site GIPHY, which also provides stats that can be readily shared. The creation tools lend a less polished, more authentic feel that is characteristic of GIF culture, he said. GIPHY also makes it easy to get your channel verified and convert your GIFS to stickers that can be used on other platforms including Instagram and TikTok.
There are some drawbacks. GIFs are not accessible to screen readers. And, you need to make sure you’re using references that your audiences will understand. Stansel tried a Doctor Who related GIF at his campus and “it bombed.”
“Not everyone gets the reference. Your Big Lebowski joke may fall flat with current students,” he said.
But students have quickly come to expect GIFs from UCA. And Stansel, who uses them on everything from replies to accepted students to Instagram stories, is more than happy to oblige.