Guide To Using Avatars For Online Marketing

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with Christian Real Estate Network & SpeakMyLanguage

You’ve seen them before.  The small little pictures that are used to identify profiles online.  You may even use one without even knowing it.  Those little pictures are called avatars.

An Avatar is simply: “a computer user’s representation of himself or herself”.  This could be a three dimensional representation in a game like Second Life, or a 2 dimensional graphic in a website profile.

With all the social based websites out there these days, chances are you already use an avatar on a website like Myspace, Facebook, Linkedin, Digg, Twitter, etc…  This is not rocket science… but it is important to follow a couple of guidelines (suggestions) when creating these avatars.

 

Branding, Facial Awareness, and Improved Visibility

One cool thing that happens when you graphically represent yourself is that you start branding (for lack of a better term), you could also call it “building awareness”, or creating “mind share”.  In simple terms, you’re creating a visual reminder of who you are for people that see your avatar multiple times.

An avatar doesn’t always have to be a picture of yourself.  Many people make this mistake, in thinking they don’t have any options in this regard.  You can really use anything you want.

You need to ask yourself, what are you really trying to create awareness of??  Your face, your company, your website, your logo?  The answer may determine what you decide to use.  Many people opt for an avatar that really has no meaning, but simply stands out from the crowd.  Others use an artistic representation.  There really isn’t any right or wrong way to do it except to say that if you are trying to create awareness for you, your business, or your website, you may want to consider using something that relates to that purpose.

 

Some Twitter Examples:

The “I like to photoshop my face”

The “I brand the first letter of my name”

The “I’ll just use my logo”

The “I just like my face”

The “I prefer a graphic representation of myself”

The “I like randomness”

The “I like using props on my face”

The “I like my dog”

The “I brand my face and company for maximum avatar domination”

 

Services You Need to Sign up For if you Haven’t Already:

MyBlogLog.com - Sign up for a free account.  You don’t even have to have a blog or website.  But your avatar will appear on websites that have the Mybloglog widget installed (like this one)… which is a good thing!  Why not brand everywhere you go?

BlogCatalog.com - Same as Mybloglog, just a little less popular.

Gravatar.com - Becoming very important.  It’s used to identify you all over the internet including when you make comments on certain sites (like this one).

Blogger.com - If you ever comment on a Blogger blog, you’ll want to set up a basic account and upload your picture so it shows up when you comment.

Wordpress.com - Same as Blogger.

Avatars.Yahoo.com - Yahoo is such a huge web portal, once you upload your picture to Yahoo Avatars, it will show up in many places all over the web as you participate

 

Other Places Online That Allow Avatars:

Forums & Message Boards - Involved in any forums, message boards or blogs that make you sign up to participate?  99% of these probably have a way to upload your avatar.  I find that this is the place where people forget to upload profile pics the most often.

Industry Specific Sites - There are tons of sites specific to each industry that allow profile pictures. In real estate, you have Activerain, Trulia, REW, Zolve, etc.

Specialty Sites - These sites aren’t really that special, I just didn’t know what else to call them:  Twitter, Plaxo, Friendfeed, Facebook, Friendster, Flickr, etc…

 

Tools for Creating Avatars:

http://mypictr.com - Online tool that helps crop larger pictures

http://www.reducephoto.com/step1avatar.asp - Online tool for creating specific sized avatars

http://www.gizmoz.com - Create animated avatars and place your head on strange bodies, etc.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RP7l8rbn9rA - Video on creating an Avatar in photoshop

 

Final Tips:

Choose Wisely My Son:  It’s a true pain in the rear to change multiple avatars if you decide you want to use a different avatar somewhere down the road.  You may want to consider using something that will work for you 1 year from now.

Ask Your Friends: This simple tip may save you from using a stupid avatar.

One Avatar in Multiple Places: It would be wise not to use different avatars on different sites.  You’ll miss out on a branding opportunity for people that may see you on multiple sites.

Don’t use Random Graphics:  If you can’t find something good, wait.  This is important.  You don’t want to be using an old picture of yourself, or a silly picture of an inanimate object simply because you had nothing better at the time.

Use Photoshop: There is nothing worse than seeing a blurry or stretched picture of yourself, or an unreadable logo because you were too lazy to resize the picture properly.

Be Professional: If you are using your online identity to improve business for yourself and promote professional networking, make sure you don’t use an inappropriate picture of yourself or morally questionable object.

 

Related Articles:

The Art of Puking Your Business Identity Onto the Internet
The Value of Social Networking Relationships

 

 

Website Review      tomato

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Original Article Here: Internet Based Avatars: The Complete Guide

Comments (33)

Brad Andersohn
Retired Executive Director of Education at eXp - Boulder Creek, CA
ActiveBrad - 707.646.1876

Justin - I have seen your photo before, you're a stud!! Mama never lies...  Just wondered if you had done any research on the topic as a coach to RE Agents.  Do you recommend they use a photo or image?  I am doing a case study on this topic, but finding that it takes longer to get the comparison results.  Love your stuff here, keep up the great job! :-)) 

Oh yeah, so was Rich really a student of yours?  I saw his testimonial on your profile, and was wondering when he was working with the tomato just for trivia purposes.  We are always trying to find out stuff about each other as the "gonna get ya" fun between him and I continues. haha.  Thanks.

Sep 23, 2008 03:40 AM
Chris Brown- Florida Home Loan Specialist | Certified Mortgage Planner
Chris Brown | Certified Mortgage Planners - Orlando, FL
Chris Brown 407.367.2974

this is good info, i would be curious how to get my version of the last one you mention... not sure i know how...

The "I brand my face and company for maximum avatar domination"

 


Chris the implementer

 

Sep 23, 2008 07:04 AM
Brad Andersohn
Retired Executive Director of Education at eXp - Boulder Creek, CA
ActiveBrad - 707.646.1876

haha!  Thanks for the clarification J, there's not too much dirt out there on him, he's a pretty good guy! :-))

Sep 23, 2008 10:34 AM
Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089
Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers - Haiku, HI
Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info

Oh sh*t - now I have to rethink all those avatars out there.  But thanks for all the good links.

Sep 23, 2008 11:02 AM
Cat Zwicker, CRS
Desert Sky Real Estate, LLC - Redmond, OR
Down to Earth Service; Out of this World Results!

My 12 year old daughter says avatars are just a grown-up version of playing barbie dress-up... But I have one, so who knows?!

Sep 23, 2008 11:46 AM
agent genius
AgentGenius - Austin, TX

Hey, Lani here (you know, the orange face, the first avatar).  I have a few thoughts for discussion based on my experience (bearing in mind that social media is my job, I'm not a Realtor):

 

1. Would you disagree that keeping avatars based on the person rather than the brokerage may be safer in the event of a brokerage change?

 

2. I've found that changing my avatar (which I do frequently ranging from my mug to silly stuff) becomes a popular point of discussion, just searching for my name and the word avatar creates almost 50 results on twitter (and that's just in the PUBLIC timeline, not counting the numerous direct messages):

http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%40LaniAR+avatar

 

3. I agree with your assertion that branding opportunities are great with avatars and I love some and hate others, but branding is essential.

 

4. I use different avatars all over the place, usually an image of me because I'm the face person of TWO companies, so it's important that I'm recognizable (sometimes I see a pic of someone and they look different in person, so using multiple images solves that element of surprise).  Do you believe that it is a mistake to use a silly avatar on Twitter, a more straightforward avatar on FB and a professional shot on LinkedIn?

 

>>Justin, I **love** that you're having people stop to think about their avatars.  Many people slop something up without much thought, but I agree that people should put great thought into their choices- everything I've done has been on purpose and done meticulously and violates the above guidelines, but what we completely agree on is that there should be considerations made with avatar branding. (PS: I love Mike Price's avatar, almost as much as mine ;) lol)

Sep 23, 2008 01:55 PM
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Sep 24, 2008 10:17 AM
#17
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

I haven't given much thought to avatars except to create one for Yahoo.  You've given me quite a bit to chew on and consider.

Sep 28, 2008 05:30 AM
Anonymous
Stephanie Jacques

This is a good reminder to try new things sometimes. I've never been to your blog and I've already realized you're offering some good information and that I need to come back...again, the value of social networking. We help each other learn. We are all in this together.

What I haven't yet benefited from is on the business front. I'm having difficulty connecting with local folks, people who might be interested in services I can provide in the real estate industry. I am thinking of actually placing a line ad in the paper to get an interest feed from paper readers. In my region, we still have a lot of paper readers and if I can be the only agent offering a blog site, maybe it will have more of a local impact. I'll see next week how this works out for me, as it is something new I'm trying.

Sep 29, 2008 04:31 AM
#19
Ken Medeiros
K&M Medeiros Real Estate - Falmouth, MA

As a new  bloger I am continuously learning new and helpful things. I will have to give this information more of my time. Thank You for the post.

Sep 29, 2008 04:47 AM
Anonymous
prz

I feel that the The Search Industry is HOT. I mean to ask, Have you noticed that Google shares recently hit USD 500 EACH? It’s not a coincidence. Search giants like Google, Yahoo and AOL can’t fail to make money because everybody wants a bit of the search action. There’s no denying, search is at hot hot hot. look at  Japan.


Sep 30, 2008 03:53 AM
#21
Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

Thanks for all the great tips. I will bookmark this and read it again later.

Oct 03, 2008 01:50 AM
Perri K. Feldman
Keller Williams of Essex, Union & Morris Counties - Short Hills, NJ
NJRealEstateWire.com

Justin...you continue to teach with each new entry...I want to re-enroll for another 10 week course!!!

Oct 05, 2008 09:59 AM
Bo Buchanan
Kettley Realtors - Oswego, IL

Great tips on marketing with an avatar!  This is a great example of one of those easy, free things you can do to increase your brand and exposure!

Oct 07, 2008 04:54 PM
Anonymous
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Oct 14, 2008 06:35 AM
#25
Teresa Boardman
Boardman Realty - Saint Paul, MN

LOL I have two avatars I use. Both head shots one informal the other a bit more formal. but I have a gripe and that is the people who keep changing their avatars and confusing the hell out of me.

Oct 14, 2008 08:01 AM
Garren Grup
John R. Wood REALTORS - Naples, FL
REALTOR, ABR, CNE,CDPE, GRI, Naples & Bonita Springs, FL

Thanks for the links... Got the Blooger one down and MyBlogLog is one of the next on my list!

Oct 16, 2008 01:28 PM
Steven Beam
RE/MAX Alliance - Parker Colorado Real Estate. - Parker, CO
Parker Colorado Real Estate

I always wondered what those were. Thanks.

Oct 16, 2008 04:02 PM
June Watson
Weichert Realtors, ProSouth - Florence, AL
Realtor , NW Alabama

June_Watson_Realtor_Florence_AL_AvatarTrue, so true!!! =oP

Oct 18, 2008 07:32 AM
George Bennett
Inactive - Port Orford, OR
Inactive Principal Broker, GRI

Great info Justin. Can you tell me how to upload my avatar to a location where it will display on each of my blogs. Putting on the right frame under my profile info would be nice but I'm having trouble finding out how to do it.

Dec 23, 2008 05:38 PM