5 Killer Strategies to Get Your Online Avatar Noticed

December 28, 2007 - Written by Gyutae Park  

Your avatar is your face on the web. Since people make instant mental associations when they see an image, it’s important to represent yourself through the use of an effective avatar. This will help you to build up a reputation and to gain exposure for yourself, your sites, and your business. If you aren’t doing so already, you should definitely be using a custom avatar whenever possible including on all social media sites, blog comments, and forums. Optimally, you should use the same avatar on all sites to maximize effectiveness and exposure. Below are some strategies to consider when choosing an avatar. Pick one and stick to it.

Avoid the default
Sometimes it just doesn’t pay to fit in with the crowd. Using a default avatar or icon will have a negative impact on your credibility and people will usually ignore you thinking you’re just a silly spammer. Be creative and use something that will stick in the minds of viewers.

1. Just be yourself
As long as you’re not a hideous monster, using a self-portrait for your avatar is a great way to go. People will recognize you for who you really are and you’ll have peace of mind knowing that no one in the entire world will have the same avatar you do (unless you have a long lost twin or a stalker copycat). If you’re branding yourself and plan on meeting people face to face, then use a photo for your avatar. In fact, I use this strategy for all of my avatars. Who’s that good looking Asian guy?

2. Use your logo
If your main objective is to advance your company, your best bet is to use a logo. However, you want to make sure that the logo is clearly labeled and catchy to viewers. Be sure that the logo isn’t too similar to the default avatar as well. I recently came across an avatar of an active user at Sphinn that is very similar in shape and color to the default. Now Sourcing, if you’re reading this, change your avatar! You can see the similarities below.

3. Be cartoony
Maybe I watched too much Saturday morning TV growing up, but I find cartoons to be very effective avatars. If you’re shy and don’t want to use a real picture, a cartoon version might be a good alternative. Just make sure that it is customized and unique to who you are. Tyler Cruz is a great example of someone who uses this method.
tyler cruz cartoon

4. Sex sells
Nothing sells like sex appeal, especially to an audience dominated by young males. Some may question the ethics of this strategy, but it is proven to work in improving click-through rate. If you’re not concerned with branding, use an image of an attractive (but tasteful) woman as your avatar. You don’t want to go over the top or break any rules, but this method could pay off for you.
jessica alba avatar

5. Wacky what?
If your avatar is simply wacky, ridiculous, or outlandish, it could be effective in making people look twice and notice you. For example, would you expect to see a fully-grown man wearing a silly Spiderman costume? Well that’s Zac Johnson, a top affiliate marketer.
zac johnson spiderman avatar

I’d like to see which of the above strategies Winning the Web readers are using for their avatars. Be sure to submit your entry in the poll.

What strategy do you use for your online avatar?

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18 Responses to “5 Killer Strategies to Get Your Online Avatar Noticed”

Jamie Harrop on December 28th, 2007 Subscribed to comments via email

I decided to go the route of the self portrait when I started my blog. I believe blogging is all about building relationships, and there’s nothing better than a photo of yourself to build a relationship with your readers.

sven on December 28th, 2007

I used to be very personal with a self portrait. Nowadays I like to keep a certain distance and toned it down. I am thinking about a cartoon sooner or later, probably when I create another blog design.
It’s just important to use the same picture everywhere that stands for you so there is a bigger chance that you will be recognized again.

DotDriven on December 28th, 2007

I tend to go with “something wacky” myself. Partially because I enjoy humor also because I don’t consider myself “worthy” of an icon yet…if that makes sense? I kind of feel that I need to make a name for myself before I use my image or cartoon of me. I know that probably sounds backwords and kind of catch22 but it seems to make sense in my head lol.

Gyutae Park on December 28th, 2007

@Jamie Harrop
Agreed. That’s the same mentality I have and the reason why I use a photo of myself as well.

Is there a specific reason why you want to keep that distance between you and your readers? Privacy concerns?

Hm, a catch-22 indeed. I would think it would be difficult to switch an avatar once it’s established. Better to start off right than have to change it later on.

Affiliate Unleashed on December 29th, 2007

Hehe. I used to use a picture of my girlfriend, Maria. Now I use my logo for my blog, http://www.jonathanvolk.com

SEMSpot on January 1st, 2008

I went with a personal picture. This gives my readers the chance to not only see who they are reading, but to some it gives them a greater comfort level being able to see the person instead of a cartoon character or even the logo which would be at the top of my site anyhow. I am not worried about the privacy issue, I would rather connect more openly with my readers then try to hide something from them. When the time comes where I get to speak at a conference, am I going to wear a cartoon mask over my face when I talk? Nah I do not think that will be that professional.

simon on January 1st, 2008

i use a picture of me scuba diving, as it stands out and people seem attracted to it.

veronicaromm on January 1st, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

I mostly write on my blog so I figure if authors put their mugs on books, why no bloggers? It makes you feel like you know the person better.

Daan Jansonius on January 2nd, 2008

In reply to changing your avatar later on, I would not recommend it – unless it’s absolutely necessary.

People start to recognise an avatar when it is used more and if they like the poster behind the avatar. After a while the avatar gets associated with the posts without a second thought. Changing the avatar will be confusing and in some weird way even change the association.

It happens all the time on a football forum I ‘work’ for. Not quite the same as a blog, but you can still see that changing an avatar can have a big effect.

I choose my picture because it makes my friends laugh. Also, I wanted to use a real picture because I feel it adds a personal touch to my blog. I started it mainly for personal development and hopefully because people will start to read it (not quite there yet!), so adding my own picture adds a bit of personality to it.

Cameron Low on January 3rd, 2008

Speaking of Sexy Asian Guys http://www.mixx.com/users/cameronlow 😛 Enough to grab attention I think… I hope…

Gyutae Park on January 3rd, 2008

@Affiliate Unleashed
That’s a cool looking logo. But I think personal pictures are just a lot more inviting.

Why not? Cartoon masks at conferences are going to be a huge fad. Might as well start it now. ;-P

Awesome. Scuba diving is a lot of fun. Well I went snorkeling in the Caribbean. Does that count?

Definitely. I think having a face behind the words is key for every blogger.

@Daan Jansonius
Well what is your avatar? I’d like a good laugh as well.

@Cameron Low
Nice, and from Australia. Do you have one of those cool accents as well?

David Hong on January 4th, 2008

I personally do cartoony stuff. But I voted for “sex appeal” Jessica Alba in the button messed up my head 🙂

Marc on September 27th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

I went for a simple bold graphic. It really stands out, especially in twitter where avatars are tiny.

Smart Boy Designs on April 21st, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

Great thoughts. I myself use a cartoon avatar – but I enjoy seeing real photos as avatars as well. Nothing is worse than an unrelated avatar. It doesn’t help to promote a brand in any way.

Thanks for the great article!

kamtizone on July 27th, 2009

Nice post. And I prefer to use this avatar.
So many time I try to take my self portrait but no one looks good.

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