Have you noticed that on some websites when you make a comment or when you sign up for a membership, you have a spot for a profile photo? If you have signed up using Facebook connect, which means there was an option to create your id using your Facebook account, you will automatically have the profile photo from your Facebook account right there next to your name. If you sign up just by entering in your email and answering a few questions, your profile photo may look plain or generic like this:
That profile photo, whether generic or of you, is called an avatar.
What is a Gravatar?
A GRAvatar is a “Globally Recognized Avatar”. A Gravatar enables you to create an avatar for your email address one time, and then websites which are Gravatar-enables sites will pull your photo, or avatar, from the Gravatar database automatically.
This is how it works: You go to http://www.gravatar.com and create a profile. On that profile you upload your photo. The photo is linked to your email address. Once you do that, every time you sign up for a membership on a website or make a comment on a website which accepts Gravatars, your profile photo from your Gravatar account will appear automatically. Remember, since this Gravatar is assigned to your email address, if you sign up on a website using a different email address, you will have a different Gravatar.
Since the Gravatar is tied to your email address, you could make a few: one for your work/professional account and then another for a personal account, for example.
For professionals who are commenting on industry articles on the Internet, this can help promote your brand or your service. Having a photo next to your comment or id sometimes gives more credibility to your opinion. Using a professional head shot instead of just the default profile photo can make your comments stand out. People tend to trust the opinions of a person who puts their real identity online as opposed to someone who stays anonymous.
If you host a website and would like to use Gravatars on your site, there are plugins and code you can add to your site to enable this functionality. We highly encourage you to do this.
We encourage you to head over to Gravatar’s website and create your gravatar today. Make sure it is professional and promotes your brand. Then have fun seeing where it shows up!