How important is your online avatar?

This little devil has been my online representative for a year now
He and I formed an allience on the day I joined Twitter, courtesy of a Markmedia lesson in social media at Uclan, and decided I wanted a cute avatar instead of the default o_O brown square Twitter gives you.

Now he’s my avatar on all my networks, apart from LinkedIn, which has an old photo of me, as I figured a red demon might not be the ideal professional representation. On Utterli he flutters around, but on most of the sites he’s a static beastie. And he’s definitely a boy as far as I’m concerned, which is weird considering he represents me.

I’m massively attached to him and by using the same avatar on all sites, it’s easy for people to know it’s me. Although since I’m alisongow just about everywhere, I guess it’s not really a Mastermind situation.

But recently, I’ve started to feel a little uncomfortable having a cartoon devil as an avatar, because it doesn’t seem particularly, well, transparent. Am I hiding behind an image? Would it be more open and honest for me to use a photo of me than upload my devil?
I don’t know if anyone else even cares, but I’m starting to feel a little hypocritical about not showing my face online.

I also notice increasing number of people on Twitter are changing their avatars to real photos of themselves, and I wonder why that is.
So I turned to Ask500people just to see what the consensus was.
If you have the time to vote, please do. My little devil may depend on you…


About Alison Gow

I'm a journalist, particularly interested in story-telling, networks and digital innovation.
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5 Responses to How important is your online avatar?

  1. What … that’s not a picture?


  2. sarahhartley says:

    perhaps I should have read this earlier as I changed my pic of me back to a plate of food again today. nothing much in it – just fancied a change:)


  3. Dilyan says:

    I prefer real-life photos because that way people learn to recognise a face and will know who you are even if you change your avatar. Also, I think it is more personal to change avatars from time to time rather than stay with the same beautiful shot from college. 🙂


  4. Alison Gow says:

    @xxnapoleonsolo you are fired. Or possibly fried. I haven’t made up my mind yet…@Dilyan @Sarah there are <>no<> becautiful college pictures of me (and not just because I didn’t go to college). But, funnily enough, it was seeing your real photos that really got me thinking about whether people connect more with real pictures or not. Vote is over 400 now, with non-photo avatars ahead. Will give it another day 🙂


  5. Binu Johnson says:

    There is a press release today about where you can create your online avatar using your own face on a ton of characters they give. enjoyed it, their featured avatar for Obama inauguration is “Obama and me” avatar for profile pictures etc 🙂


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