Digital Marketing and Social Media Strategy

Why you shouldn’t change your Twitter avatar

Wednesday night I was pleasantly surprised that my Twitter profile appeared in Jennifer Van Grove’s Mashable story, Twitter Calculates Reputation Scores for Each User. It made my night actually.

I instantly heard from my friends who turn to Mashable for their social media news. In fact, I’m still hearing from them today. Pretty impressive considering my name isn’t even mentioned in the story.

Don’t go changing a thing

I’ve advocated that people not change their Twitter profile pictures for years now. I snapped my silly, blue half-head photo on my MacBook back in February 2007, specifically to use as my Twitter photo.

It was back when you only had a public timeline on Twitter, before you could create lists or use applications like Tweetdeck or Seesmic. The avatars are the first thing you see in the timeline, so when someone would change their picture, I would often miss their tweets.

As I set up new profiles on emerging social networking sites, I stuck with the same image. Using my marketing mind, I figured I’d be better off using a consistant avatar than switching it up. It’s worked for Coke, McDonalds and Starbucks, right? Why be a Gap? Too soon?

Consistency is key

What’s funny about my recognition from the Mashable post, is that I’ve been editorially quoted in Mashable several times recently. I’ve had little response from my peers about the quotes, compared to the countless, wonderful tweets and comments I got last night and today.

You can easily miss a quote in an article, but it’s hard to miss a friend’s face (albeit, half of one) when it’s right slap dab in the top of the story.

How about you? Do you change your social media mugshots ever? What do you think about changing them?


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  • I agree 100% Dave. I had the same avatar on twitter, Facebook and other networks since early 2007 as well – I did change it a few months ago though (when I went from long hair to short) and I noticed that it took a while for people to catch on that it was me. Likewise, I get frustrated when people I follow regularly change avatars, I tend to overlook them almost until the new avatar clicks for me – by that time they have a new one.

  • Thanks Merlene.
    It makes sense to change it when you have a new look.

    I revise mine every so often, if a holiday makes it suitable. Like my zombie version for Halloween.

  • Nice haircut by the way :)

  • Randy Clark

    Although I agree with branding yourself by using the same
    avatar I believe there are times to consider changing your avatar.

    1. If you have chosen poorly to begin with, for example, a logo for a personal
    account, or a photo which does not show well.
    2. If you attend F2F meet ups and your avatar does not represent who you are.
    My first avatar was a corporate photo shopped head shot, which took 10 years off
    my age. I changed it.
    3. To occasionally have a little fun for short periods of time. Not long ago a
    group of ginger friends photo shopped my avatar with bright red hair. I ran it
    for a few days and had a lot of fun with it. Recently a group of friends all
    replaced theirs with animals for a short time – again it was fun and social.

    Thanks for the post, I agree,  it is
    important to brand yourself with your avatar, but IMHO it’s not absolute, and
    it’s OK to have fun occasionally.   

  • Thanks Randy. Great points.
    I’ve altered my avatar over the years for special seasonal occasions, like adding a Santa hat PR going zombie.
    Also, my current QR code version has been a fun experiment. I’ll share the findings of that here soon.

  • Good things to know, especially if I care about Twitter would suggest me as someone to follow. I don’t care about that, but that’s nice to know.

    Right now I’m rethinking how I use this platform. I like to change my profile pic from time to time, based on a particular event or how I’m feeling. There are many great reasons mentioned already in the comments.

    The fact is that I’ve stopped spending so much time in Twitter to focus on other work, relying on the more threaded, contextual platforms for my interactions.

  • Thanks Daniel. I understand where you’re coming from.
    I spend less time on my personal Twitter accounts, but more on my professional.
    I wish I had more time, but there’s never enough time in a day.

    Where are you spending your social media minutes most?

  • Hi Dave,

    I’ve found a lot of benefit in Google Plus, Facebook, and LinkedIn. I really love finding a whole new group of people via the Nearby stream on Google+. Facebook is there just because it’s Facebook. I’ve got a number of groups I’m a part of over there, but for groups, right now nothing beats the few LinkedIn groups I’m a part of. I’ve left a number of groups that I really wasn’t interested in, and I’ve turned down notification/digest settings to focus on the ones I really get value from.

  • I can understand that. I haven’t played enough in LinkedIn either, but it’s the same reason that I don’t spend enough time in G+. I don’t *have* the time.
    I’ll tell you one thing. If Twitter doesn’t do something about the amount of spam, it will soon be Hotmail to me.

  • I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.

    – Dave

    Dave Delaney
    Social Media Coordinator at Griffin Technology
    Greater Nashville Area

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