February 22, 2012
When you go online, visual experiences are some of the most powerful. Video speaks louder than audio alone. Blog postings with pictures tend to have a better impact on readers than text alone.
This holds true to your profiles as well. As you can see on my own home page, I have an icon image that I use for my online profiles. Mine was done for me by a web-comic artist (Woody Hearn of GUcomics.com) and wasn’t free, so not everyone will be able to have this kind of profile picture set up for them. That’s not to say you can’t have anything!
Even if you’re not paying for someone to make a profile picture for you, that’s no excuse for having the default “person” or “egg” icons that services like Twitter and Facebook provide. You need to change the default profile image to something that represents you, as soon as you can.
Now, this doesn’t mean you have to draw it yourself, or even use a real photo if you’re uncomfortable doing so. You just need to get something in there that is not the default icon that brands you as a new user.
For example, the image at the top of this post was created by John Kovalic (who writes Dork Tower, another online comic). He did it to show just how easy it is to create simple, but powerful user icons without a lot of technical expertise.
Here’s a few more of his icons – that he’s made available to anyone who wants to use them, free of charge:
With just a few clicks in some simple graphics programs (that you most likely already have free of charge on your PC or Mac) you can create a cute, funny icon that is clearly not the “default user” graphic.
So why don’t you want the default icon?
1 – it brands you as a “newbie” – a person who just started and has no clue what they’re doing. Even if that’s true, you probably don’t want the world to know that if you can avoid it =)
2 – It’s unprofessional. If you’re using Social Media for your job, the last thing you want is others discounting your opinion because you didn’t change the default user icon.
3 – Spammers use the defaults. Spammers create dozens of spam accounts at once, therefore they tend to not even bother to change the icon (after all, the accounts are going to get blocked pretty quickly). If you keep the default icons, many folks will instantly suspect you of being a spammer.
So get an image! Build it, buy it, or borrow it (make sure you have permission to do so, though).