502-442-7914 howdy@nowsourcing.com

7 Reasons Why You’ll Click on Everything I Post

NowSourcing avatar - behold the power of the Green NIt’s all about the avatar, baby. Don’t believe me? Well yes, content is king, but it needs to be noticed. Your diamonds are trying to stay afloat in the cesspool of spam, viagra, trading on forex, and all sorts of other trash. And yes, killer titles are also a part, but a crappy avatar can ruin all the time and effort that went into the otherwise compelling piece of content you’re oh so proud of.

So, here is a list of 7 suggestions I have for having a compelling avatar:

1 – Don’t be the tool that uses the community default icon.
This one should be a no brainer when engaging in any community. Why get lost in a sea of default icons? Tamar “Schwagwhore” Weinberg wrotoe a good piece on Digg default icons making the difference in the upcoming section of Digg.

2 – Big or Small?
Some like to take up the whole 120×120 box, while others like to overpixelate. Some like tiny, but my opinion is the bigger the better.

3 – Seasonal?
Sure, why not. I personally don’t, but here’s an entertaining one:

Mr. Baby Man - xmas time vs. Mr. Baby Man(MrBabyMan)
4 – Company Logo? Sure, but maybe just the icon. People aren’t going to squint to try to read your whole company name at 120×120.

5 – Attractive People.

People like to see attractive people. But don’t go overboard like sexyseo, or you might get your avatar yanked off mybloglog.

6 – Just Plain You.


Folks like Digidave (Propeller admin / citizen journalist) just have an avatar of themselves. Plain and simple. Then, people even recognize you at events. Good show.
7 – NO copycatting. Seriously. I will smack you personally.
Ben Yoskovitz of Instigator Blog will probably smack you too. He had a good post about having an avatar so good that others try to steal it. Again, if you copycat an avatar, you are a moron.

Ultimately, how do you choose? try an avatar and see the response you get. See if you get an increased number of friends and votes. Ask others. The Thinking Blog went so far as to asking its audience which of 5 avatars they should use in a poll!


  1. Jason Falls

    Great post, B. I just commented on Chris Brogan’s recent “blog as resume” post that your avatar can also serve as your introduction to people in real settings. For a long time, I used my head shot, primarily so when I went to conferences, people knew who I was and would introduce themselves. It worked … not only to a small degree at SMX Social Media in New York but Blog World Expo in Vegas was the, “Hey, You’re Jason Falls!” conference. It was gratifying to know that strategy paid off. (And I don’t consider myself to be very attractive.)

    That said, I’ve now gone to an artsy version of my ugly head … covering blemishes is my excuse, the main one being most of my face … but it’s still identifiable. Thought I’d share for further thought for your readers. Great post.

  2. brian

    @Jason: thanks, glad you liked it. The point you raise is a good one, but there are really 2 schools of thought on this:

    1 – it is good for people to see what you look like for recognition for when you go to conferences and the like.

    2 – if everyone uses a headshot, a page of tiny Digg or other such site avatars won’t stand out much, so a more colorful graphic will be more noticeable.

    So, the question remains. Are you using your avatar for personal or company branding? I’d offer that it may make sense to have the more colorful one on social media sites, and a headshot on your blog or somewhere that carries your distinct voice. Or, you could have a hybrid of a headshot with some effect (think Lyndon with the red background or a caricature like Cartoon Barry).

  3. TechDune

    Very True !
    Avatar is your identity in the web …:)

  4. Jansie Blom

    good post. pity i can’t stick my av on my comment!

  5. SilentJay74 aka JoeFowler3

    Sweet post. It is so true though. I love the Schwag Whore reference.

  6. kristen

    Excellent post. I have a colorful avatar. Should we use the same one for each social media site we belong too? I guess that would be part of branding ourselves in a way. I totally agree with not using a company logo. I tried and the graphics were so very tiny.

  7. John

    Good solid info… and KILLER title… how could someone NOT click on that title?

    PS: PimpMyNews.com is a “killer app” for social bookmarkers -Disclosure: I’m biased, because my friends and I built it

  8. brian

    @TechDune: indeed, and identity is important.

    @Jansie: thanks – been considering a rewrite for the comments section to do just that. Sounds like you’re in favor of it 🙂

    @JoeFowler3: thank you, and yes – Tamar is a schwagwhore and proud of it.

    @Kristen: yes, you have a colorful avatar. And yes, I recommend site-wide avatars being consistent – in most cases.

    @John: glad you liked the info…easy on the promotion there, bucko 🙂

  9. John

    Sorry Brian! yeah, that was too much… guess pride overtook judgement 😉

  10. brian

    @john: ok, duly warned! 🙂

  11. Matt

    So very true…content is king but you need to have a good memorable icon, or marketing plan of some type. The golden arches wouldn’t be the same if they were shit brown 😉

  12. Mchael Aulia

    Didn’t know that avatar can make a big difference.. what if I feel that I’m too ugly for my photo to get displayed? lol

  13. SexySEO

    Attractive People Ah! It flatters my self-esteem 😉

  14. ptamaro

    I think it’s good to be consistent with your avatar across all your accounts, it’s also nice when you recognize folks across different sites and services. It’s definitely a form of “personal branding.”

    Ben Yoskovitz post is right on target, and definitely worth the read… Stealing someone else’s avatar is for losers.

    It seems odd that you don’t have avatars on your comments about the importance of avatars. Why not use a service like https://site.gravatar.com?

    Good post though, thanks! latent|design

    ptamaro’s last blog post..Seven Things you probably didn’t know…

  15. Goran Web

    Pictures, cartoons, logos etc create the mood. Its what we say that defines us.

  16. brian

    all: thanks for the latest comments. I’m surprised by all the discussion around this post, but that just goes to show the amount of relevance and importance that avatars truly have in social media.

  17. Carol Deckert


    This was a very enlightening post, although I must admit that I have to disagree with a lot of what you wrote.

    Everywhere you read anything about online networking, online marketing, social networking, whatever you want to call it, people want to see your face on a profile – doesn’t matter whether you think you are attractive or not. People are not able to read your body language when they meet you online, but if they can see your eyes on a profile photo, they can get a sense of knowing you – as you really are a real person! That goes a long way in those first steps of becoming known, liked and/or trusted.

    Whether or not you feel your photo is attractive, as long as it is a good photo of you – not your wife, husband, kids or the dog, but you, others will feel good about connecting with you. After all, relationships are built around people, not things, places, or animals.

    So, I remain steadfast in my opinion that YOUR photo should appear in YOUR profile! I want to build my network with people I feel I know, like and trust!

    What say you? Do you agree or disagree with me? Why not post your comments below and let’s see what the rest of the world thinks!

    The ball is back in someone else’s court – I have posted my opinion. Who’s next?

    Carol Deckert, Netweaving/Networking Coach

    Carol Deckerts last blog post..1