How To Update Your Avatar For Best Results

Personal BrandingSocial Media

A quick guide to effectively updating your avatar.

I hadn’t updated my avatar in a long time.

In Why You Should Update Your Personal Avatar Now, I said “don’t change only for the sake of change.” Brand reinforcement is based on consistency, so you need a good reason to introduce some inconsistency with a new avatar.

Well, when a few recent conference-goers said that they hadn’t recognized me from my avatar, I decided it was time for a change. It didn’t hurt that I was also getting tired of seeing the same image again and again.

Following the 11 Rules for Best Personal Branding Results with Avatars, I already knew which image I wanted to use for the new avatar, but the whole updating task seemed a bit daunting. Over the years, I must have put the previous picture on dozens of sites, possibly hundreds. And I wasn’t going to spend a day or more tracking them all down.

How to prioritize

In his The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey – whom Dan Schawbel interviewed here – introduced his prioritization table

In our context:

‘Important’ refers to the sites which are most important for your personal brand such as:

  • your personal website
  • social networks you use regularly
  • sites you contribute to regularly (guest posts/columns, forums, marketplaces, etc.)

‘Due Soon‘ refers to the urgency of the change, as in how soon the avatar change on a given site (or lack thereof) will be noticed by your audience.

For example, if you’re very active on Twitter and Facebook, an avatar change would be ‘due soon’ once you’ve started the process because people are likely to notice you updated the avatar in one place but not the other, which will look clumsy.

On the other hand, you might be very active in a forum where the avatar is only displayed on a profile page that people rarely see. In which case, it’s not ‘due soon’.

Where to update

With Covey’s prioritization technique in mind, most people will want to follow this update order:

1) Your personal branding hub – typically your blog, personal page, or other website of yours

2) Major social networks and discussion forums – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and forums that you visit daily.

Starting with these is a good idea because many other sites have the option of copying your avatar from them, such as Pinterest below.

When you update your Google+ profile, you’re actually updating your Google profile itself, so your new avatar will immediately be in use across Google.

3) Professional tools – especially networking/chat tools, like Skype or Messenger (which needs an updated Windows Live ID).

4) Ongoing guest appearances – any place (online or offline!) that you contribute to regularly and where a picture of you is displayed prominently, such as in the byline.

5) Your Gravatar – with one quick update and a few minutes for their servers to propagate the change, your avatar will appear anywhere that gravatars are used on the Web.

6) Comment services – and are just some of the comment services used by bloggers. Like with gravatars, once you update your avatar on each platform, it will appear wherever that comment service is used.

7) Everything else – whether for secondary social networks such as Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Digg, etc., or discussion forums that you visit once in a blue moon, simply update the avatar on your next visit to the site. It’s not important enough to do it until then.


Jacob Share, a job search expert, is the creator of JobMob, one of the biggest blogs in the world about finding jobs. Follow him on Twitter for job search tips and humor.