Ever visit a blog or forum and wonder how the other people have their picture showing up along side their post? Today’s suggestion is one of the fastest social networking tools you can use, called Gravatars, and it’s FREE. This is a simple tool designed to automatically combine your picture with your email on any site, world-wide, that has Gravatar enabled. It is becoming common practice on blogs, forums, or any place that you use your email to post comments. Yahoo groups have been using Avatar for a long time, and Gravatar is a Globally Recognized version!
Why is this important? Anyone in business knows it’s important to put a face with a name. For any people representing your company in online discussions, Gravatars are a great way of putting a face (or faces) to your company. Pictures help with recognition and facilitate relationship building, which is the cornerstone of every business process. For really active posters (people who frequently post) online, Gravatars help build a following and establish the person as an expert. This will put a face on your comments on this website also!
ONE ACTION ITEM: Go to http://en.gravatar.com/site/signup. Enter the email you’re most likely to use online, and you’ll be guided to set a password and upload a photo. That’s it! Savvy business people using Gravitars “to the max” may use a photo of them with a product, wearing a company logo /hat, Photoshop altered, etc. Be creative! Once you have your Gravatar, come back here and post a comment.
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There is more to this lesson, so if you want to know more, continue reading.
There are two other technologies that are become popular. Facebook connect allows blog owners to use a visitor’s Facebook account before they comment. When a visitor does this, they have the added ability to invite their Facebook friends to your blog and post comments about your blog in their Facebook page. Facebook users now have the opportunity to take their Facebook profile information, friends and privacy preferences to your sites.
This also adds a few benefits to you, the blog owner. First is the verification of the user. One problem blog owners have is that commenter’s can be very anonymous. Facebook connect is a way of verifying who your commenters are, thus reducing the amount of comment spam and vulgarity that anonymous users may bring to your blog. The other added benefit is that it is easy for your users to invite their friends – thus increase traffic to your website!
The other technology is Google Friend Connect. With Google Friend Connect, your website visitors can sign in with their Google, Yahoo, AIM or OpenID account. They can then interact with other visitors by making friends, sharing media, posting comments, and more. Like Facebook connect, your visitors can also invite friends from other social networks and contact lists to join your site or blog.
Right now, these are competing technologies. Many sites are using Gravatars, Facebook Connect, Google Friend Connect, and others. You can expect that by the end of 2009 (or at least hope) that there is one standard. No matter which one wins, putting a face on social sites is something that is needed. Along with that, these technologies will simplify all of the usernames and passwords you will collect on your social sites (remember yesterday’s lesson? I hope you downloaded the “Social Media Information files.) These technologies will give you one password to remember for most of your social media sites – from video and graphics to social networks and blogs.