Today I was asked for a photo of me for use with an article I have going out in Building magazine shortly. We’re going to use the image I use online, and it made me think about why that is.
1. You can be Recognised In Real Life
The advantage of using a photo of my face on social media platforms is that people tend to recognise me when they meet me, and likewise if I’ve seen their photo. Real-life business and social relationships are what I’m into social media for, so that makes sense to me.
2. Differentiate Your Brand from Your Company
If someone has a brand as their avatar I usually see this as meaning that they are representing the brand – they are a brand ambassador but not as an individual might be, more as an employee or representative. I expect them to behave in accordance with that brand.
Many people I know who use twitter (I did a survey in 2010 of over 150 users in or related to the construction industry) start with a personal twitter account, often using a photo of themselves once they gain confidence. Then they may set up a business only account for their firm. This account acts as the official face of their company. It becomes the account you follow for business only, on-topic only content. People follow @BarefootGilles which is me for just the firm and has a picture of the firm’s brand.
3. Choose what works for You
I have a couple of other twitter accounts. People can follow @ArchitectLeague for news of what architects from all around the world are sharing on twitter, and there I use a stereotypical image of an architects drawing. This drawing is a kind of metaphor for the ‘every-architect’ rather than a photo of me, as the account is largely sharing material by others for the benefit of everyone.
4. Be Consistent
I use the same image all over the net wherever I am asked for an avatar. This way people get that recognition whatever platform they are on. I feel when other people do this, it helps me remember them and recognize them as a person I already know about.
5. Be Human
What matters to me in an avatar is that it is a shorthand for the whole experience of the person. Behind this when you click on it, is their whole profile – their links, their tweets, their discussions on a linkedin group – their entire social media footprint. If a person doesn’t bother to replace the standard avatar I’m less likely to click, and for that reason alone I’m less likely to take them seriously.
6. And another (bonus) Reason:
Andy Marshall, whom I first met on twitter and then two years later commissioned to photograph one of our projects, tells me my red shirt shines out amongst other avatars on tweetdeck, so I’m unable to change it now…
What image do you use, and why?