June 8, 2011

What is a gravatar? Why should I use one?

A gravatar is an important part of social media marketing. It’s a portable avatar that follows you around the web, allowing you to brand your social media updates.

Riiight. So what’s an avatar?

An avatar is an online representation of yourself. For most of us, that means something like your Facebook profile picture or your Twitter icon, i.e. it’s the little picture that appears next to your Facebook updates or tweets.

Not surprisingly, most people use a photo of themselves as their avatar. It’s pretty sensible on a network like Facebook or LinkedIn where it’s all about personalities. This way, people know straight away that it’s you (N.B. it also means that Facebook, and whoever they choose to share their data with, knows what you look like too).

On Facebook, many women choose their best wedding day photo (this is usually because they’ve been on a diet and they’re looking their best). Other people choose photos of themselves doing ‘extreme’ sports or otherwise showing off. Others, who lack such exhibitionist tendencies, choose pictures of their children. Or their pets. Or celebrities like Elvis.

Many online forums also allow you to upload an avatar image.

Since the explosion of social media as a business tool, many business people have cottoned on to the fact that they can use their company logo as their avatar, thereby branding all of their social media activity. This gives them extra brand exposure if they’re using social media as a marketing channel.

But what if you want to extend your social media marketing beyond just Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter? What about all the other websites that feature discussions where your target market hangs out, like blogs and news media websites? These websites nearly always allow you to place comments and take part in debates. If you comment without an avatar, you lose your branding power and your personality and become just another name.

That’s why Gravatar was invented. With Gravatar, your avatar appears wherever you place a comment, write a blog post, or update your status – as long as 2 conditions are fulfilled.

  1. You must enter your email address.
  2. The website must support Gravatar.

Not surprisingly, Gravatar is massively popular. It has millions of users and 29,000 gravatar images get served up every second!

If none of this is making any sense to you, you can go to fruitbowl.co.nz to see how gravatars work.

The people who have set up gravatars have their face or their company logo showing (cool). Anyone who hasn’t set a gravatar just has a blank silhouette instead (boring!).

To find out more, head over to http://www.gravatar.com/ and set up your own gravatar today.