July 19, 2012
So you’ve been reading along on this and other blogs, and you’ve begun crafting your image in Social Media. What about your literal *image* in Social Media – your icon, avatar, profile picture, etc.?
One of the very first things people see when they look at your tweets, posts, and pages is your picture. And they can often tell more than you want them to from just that one small icon. So what image will you choose to represent yourself?
First things first, you MUST change this from the default image for Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. Do not go with the default egg, shadow, outline, etc. no matter what. Using the default brands you instantly as someone who’s either fake (a spammer, temp account, etc.) or else someone who just has no clue at all how Social Media works. Neither of those images will help you build your brand or your business, and getting tagged as a probable spammer will actually hurt your cause.
Let’s look at a couple of the ins and outs of the more common methods out there:
Photos can work quite well for professional use of Social Media. Your customers can see you for you! Remember to go for something that reflects the industry you’re in, however. I have seem Twitter icons that were supposed to be for very high-end legal partners who were hanging off the back of a “party boat” – probably not the image they want to be most closely associated with for business use. If it is, great, but if it’s not then you need to get a picture of you at work or a headshot of you in a suit.
This one is very popular, and the method I use myself. Having a drawing or cartoon made from your photos can be a great way to allow you to put your face online without actually putting your real face online. As with photos, you want to ensure that the drawing lines up with the image you’re trying to portray for your business, but with the cartoonish caricatures, you have quite a lot of leeway there.
If you prefer not to use yourself, you can always find a picture or photo of something that works well to represent your business. Maybe a picture of a green meadow if you’re an environmental firm, or a gavel for a legal firm. Maybe just some abstract image if you’re not sure which way you want to go.
Two things to watch out for: First, make sure you have the rights to use that image. It either needs to be something you paid for, or something you can license under Creative Commons or the Public Domain laws for your country. Using an image that’s copyright to someone else can get you in trouble fast, and in debt in some cases. Secondly, ensure that you can get a copy of the image downloaded to your hard drive. You do not want to only have a copy of the image on a web server if you can avoid that, as web servers can change or go offline without warning – especially if they’re not your own web servers.
Using a business logo is a pretty straight-forward way to get your brand across before anyone even reads your tweets and posts. The only drawback here is that – unless you own the company – you may not have permission to use that logo for your own icon/picture. Make sure you check with the powers that be, lest you become an employee who was.
If you do get permission, then your can use the logo itself, or better yet you can incorporate your logo into one of the other types of icons/photos mentioned here. For some of my accounts, I use a simple graphics editor to place a small version of the company logo in the lower-right corner of my cartoon-y picture.
Another note specific to logos, not every logo works well here. The preferred logos for use as your picture are square or very nearly so. Wide logos will get cropped by Twitter and other services, making you look much less professional by showing a blob of unidentifiable text/graphics instead of what you’d hope they’d see.
So put your best face – or something other than your face – forward. Remember to make your icon reflect who you are, and who you want people to see you as. Also remember to always get the appropriate permission before using copyright or trademark images, and make sure they’ll fit in the space allotted for your photo/icon.