When setting up a Twitter account for a business there are a wealth of decisions to be made.   Tone.  Frequency of posts.  Content. Who’s to control/manage.  Purpose.  A big one – the avatar!

There’s a lot of talk about the best companies on Twitter and why they’re great.  Of course the usual suspects (@comcastcares, @jetblue, @zappos, etc.) generally come up in the conversation.  Many other companies have attempted to take their lead from these efforts.  While I think it’s a good place to start, it is absolutely essential to adapt their strategies to your own business’s personality and goals.  There is no cookie cutter approach to social media because there are no cookie cutter businesses.

Now, having that understanding, and perhaps because of it I had a question.

Is it better to use a company’s logo as the Twitter avatar or a picture of the person behind it?

I posed this question to my Twitter friends (the majority of which work in Internet marketing in some fashion or another) to see what they would say.  The results were overwhelmingly clear.  Now, given, many responded to me (after voting) that ‘it depends’.  Yes, you’re right it does depend.  It always depends.  But I wasn’t building a far-reaching, scientifically based market research campaign.  I simply wanted to get the pulse of some Twitter users.  I did not push the poll as hard or for as long as I could so there weren’t a huge amount of responses.  (I’m hoping my old marketing research prof never sees this! lol)

With a few more than a hundred responses the results were in:

twitterpollbrandvlogo

Overwhelmingly the response is for the use of a logo for a branded Twitter account at 58%.

Some reasons I can understand that people would advise a company to use a ‘face’:

  1. People like to interact with people, not logos
  2. Having a face on the account adds a level of humanity to a ‘corporation’
  3. You’re a smaller biz and want to utilize yourself in the branding strategy

However, there are some extremely compelling and sound reasons to NOT use a singular person’s face as your front on Twitter.

  1. You’re branding your ‘company’ with their ‘face’
  2. The user may take on greater freedoms with the account if it feels more personal to them.  The person who runs your corporate account may take the conversation a bit more personal than you’d like when not under the umbrella of a logo
  3. This person may leave you, and then what are you left with?  What happens when they decide to change careers/positions/company’s? With the average person staying in a job for 18 months this is an extremely risky venture.   Joanna Lord says it well: “I always tell clients that a face can leave. The worst thing a logo can do is “evolve”… which usually brings positive hype.
  4. This person’s life outside of work could one day have a negative effect on your brand.  What happens if one day they ….. well…..do we really need to state the obvious here?

All of that to say a corporate approach in social media needs to consider what’s best for the brand given the goals at hand.  Determine what your goals are for the Twitter account, take in to account the pros and cons of each of your identified strategies and the approach that’s best for you should be apparent.

Please feel free to leave your reasons for using either a person, a logo, or some combination of both in the comments!