The Face You Show: What Your Twitter & Facebook Pictures Reveal About You

Your avatar on Twitter and your picture on Facebook matter. People make judgments based on the image they see. Here are some common weird things people do:

1. You & a buddy: I have a new friend on Twitter. In his tiny avatar picture, he’s leaning against another guy. Finally, I asked him if the picture was of his life partner. He exclaimed, “uh, no!” Well, when you have a picture of you and a bud and it’s shrunk to a centimeter, people think….life partner.

2. You & your husband/wife/life partner: You’re married. You’re in a relationship. That’s nice. When a person puts their spouse in their picture, I immediately guess that either one member is insecure or the relationship is in trouble. Whatever. It’s an individual account, not a group account. [Corollary: Shared email addresses. It’s rude to not know who you’re talking to until the sign off. Have your own account. Jeez.]

You & your kids: Cute. On Facebook not as big of a deal, but on Twitter, the picture is so tiny, my only question is why? It’s not your kid’s account. Soon, you’ll be talking about your kid, so we’ll know you have a kid.

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Your kid: Um, why would you use your kid’s picture on Facebook or Twitter? It’s confusing. When the face goes by in the stream, no one knows who is talking. It takes extra time. [Corollary here: Stupid answering machine messages by kids should be obliterated from the universe.]

Your dog: See above.

You when you were 17: Yeah, I looked better back then too. No, I don’t look the same. Neither do you. It’s no fun to have a guessing game–unless there’s a Twitter or FB guessing game as has happened on ’70s and ’80s day. Once again, it wastes time.

Cartoon characters: You’re not Superman. You’re just not.

Famous people: You’re also not Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan or Barack Obama, unless you are, which in that case, it’s okay to use that picture.

What to use:

1. Nice, clear, close up picture.

2. An iconic image associated with you (if you’re anonymously blogging or have an anonymous online presence).

That’s it. Are you hideous? Unlikely. Will people respond better to you if you have a nice picture? Yes. Images are stored in a different part of the brain and a good image will help people identify you.

If you want to be cutesy and obscure, use MySpace. On Facebook and Twitter, clarity is prized and will get you more followers, friends, and more networking connections. The internet is a literal place.

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