If you have any social media accounts, you hopefully have heard the word avatar or thumbnail image. These are the tiny images that serve as your profile pictures.
And while I usually talk to agencies on this blog, today, Im going to talk about us all as individuals.
Because, if you are representing an agency, your avatar should be pretty easy.
Most likely, you use the logo from the business you represent. The only question for your business is whether people can rapidly identify your logo at its 150150 size.
If your agency logo is too busy or only looks great on a large poster, its time to revisit and ask yourself what does this logo say to the masses at this extremely reduced size?
This is an important question for many emergency management agencies because frankly, we have logos that are WAY TOO BUSY. Many try to incorporate words like emergency management or the 4 cycles of emergency management and no one really gets it. Lets be honest, most average people still dont know what our whole profession does, right? This becomes a much bigger branding problem that anyone is willing to talk about.
But I dont want to engage that conversation fully tonight..lets talk about ourselves as individuals.
As much as I love to rat out boring in government, many of us in social media also need a makeover.
Your profile picture is todays business card and it speaks volumes about you.
The messages I often see are..
- I am brand new to social media (because I still use the egg picture as my avatar)
- Im going to watch you, but I dont trust you enough to let you see me (via my use of clip art avatars or non-facial pictures)
- I prefer to lurk (because I use dark avatars that dont reveal anything about me)
- I may lack confidence in being seen (as often evidenced by avatars of my pets)
- Im creative (because I figured out how to make a cartoon like avatar that actually does look like me)
I get it..I hate seeing myself in pictures. As a larger woman with introverted tendencies, I cringe every time Im near a camera.
But I also want to be well-represented. I want my online persona to display my core values of openness, transparency and willingness to engage.
You may not think it matters very much, but I firmly believe that a persons ability to trust another individual is prefaced on a combination of initial impression along with the series of follow-up interactions.
Its perfectly okay to use anything as your avatar, but you really want to consider the messages that you might be sending to others who are engaging with you. And if youre generating some meta-messages of distrust or lacking confidence, youll have to work a little harder to overcome those first impressions.
And, if you dont like almost every picture of yourself, take the time to find a professional photographer who will work with you to ensure that your best side shines through that thumbnail image. Because you only have one chance at that first impression.
Be thoughtful about the messages you choose to convey. And be mindful that they might be working against you.