06/06/2011

By Francesca James, Fresh Business Thinking

Social media is increasingly crossing over into mainstream PR and businesses large and small should really be harnessing the potential of this low cost relationship rich phenomenon that has been proven to deliver many business successes.

But where do you start? Creating a profile should be the easy bit, shouldn’t it?

The actual process of setting up a profile on Twitter couldn’t be simpler but it will require some thought.

Twitter experts are constantly telling us that Twitter is about engagement and conversations so what fits those criteria best, a logo or a headshot?

From an engagement point of view I’d much rather converse with a person than a logo. A real person will undoubtedly have more personality than a logo; unless you’re planning to hand your Twitter account over to someone incredibly dull and have the worlds best, most creative logo designer (think @Aleksandr_Orlov)!

Personally, I find it tremendously difficult to bond with a logo and believe that a genuine connection is a lot easier forged with a personality with a face, but the reality is, as with everything social media, there is no one crystal-clear approach or set of rules.

How to decide? Here’s some food for thought…

You Are Not A Robot

Using your photo is the easiest way to make things friendlier, and more human. I’m sure many of you are familiar with the brand Mashable. Pete Cashmore wrote his first post for Mashable.com in 2005 in the bedroom of his home in Scotland and now they are a top source for news in social and digital media, technology and web culture and can boast more than 40 million monthly page views & 2,330,660 twitter followers & they continue to use Pete’s headshot as the company avatar. Mashable broadcasts a lot of stories daily, all extremely interesting but I can’t help thinking that I would be less enthused and certainly less tolerant of my newsfeed being dominated by them if it appeared that a faceless logo was broadcasting. It might just be me but I’d be more inclined to see it as spam.

Are you an expert?

If you’re recognized as an expert and or thought leader in your field, perhaps a head shot is the way to go? You may actually be more recognizable & trusted in your field than your brand/products.

You don’t need to be/or pay for a designer!

If you don’t think your logo is up to scratch and don’t have the resources to get it re designed, a photo may work better for you.

Your company might have several tweeters using different profiles

If you work as part of a team, it could be good to ensure profile distinctiveness with your own photo and not the company logo.

However, despite these pro photo points, is everyone as logo sceptical as me? Do all people want to have conversations and relationships with people? Should all businesses ditch their logo in favour of a smiling headshot? Until recently I would have said yes, this is Social Media after all so shouldn’t we keep it social?

However, there is an argument, and a very strong one at that for the logo. Social media consultant Annie Boyd says that:

‘Business isn’t about one individual; it is about a product or service, the customers, their needs and requirements. I've created campaigns for different sectors and every time a logo, not a face, has been used as the Twitter handle.'

She asks whether:

- A staff member represents your business better than the logo and company name?

- What if that employee gets a new job with a competitor?

- Will your customer base move with him or stay loyal to your brand?

So, in conclusion….there is no absolute conclusion. If you were hoping for a definitive ‘yes’ or ‘no’, perhaps I have failed to deliver.

Before researching this article, I would have absolutely advocated the headshot and believed that a logo might serve as a barrier to conversation, but Annie says that ‘an account is worth following because it is entertaining, informative, provocative or amusing. A logo is only a barrier to effective communication if you allow it to be.’

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Send me a tweet @francescaajames


Watch the video below featuring Jemima Gibbons of AAB Engage discussing ow social media can positively impact your business.

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