Why you need a gravatar for commenting
It is, in my opinion, extremely important to have a gravatar for commenting.
One of the main reasons is that it marks you out from spammers. Spammers don't use gravatars:
Why should they? They don't want to be recognised as they have everything to hide. They are too busy posting spam to worry about gravatars.
But this is certainly not the case for you, especially if you want to succeed with your social writing. The infographic below explains why it is necessary to have a gravatar for commenting:
What is a gravatar?
A gravatar is a globally recognised avatar. An avatar is usually an image that represents you, such as your portrait used on ID (passport, driver's licence, etc).
In other words, your gravatar is your ID in the blogosphere. It follows you around from site to site, appearing next to your name:
I find it next to all my comments in blogs, whenever I subscribe to a blog, next to my user ID in a guest blog, whenever I comment on a forum, and a host of other places where gravatars are picked up.
It is connected to a recognised email address. (This is probably one of the reasons why spammers don't have gravatars, because they don't use real email addresses.) If I ever used a different email address, my gravatar wouldn't appear.
What should a gravatar look like?
Ideally when you use a gravatar for commenting, you should use a proper picture of yourself. I got my portrait professionally taken, because I wanted to represent myself in a more suitable light.
The reason why you should have a picture of you, is because it is you who is commenting. Even if you are commenting on behalf of your company, it's not a good idea to hide behind a logo, because then this makes your comment impersonal. Proper social writing should come from you, not stilted and restricted to tow the party line.
Let's look at some gravatars with images:
Kendra has got a photo of herself, and it stands out well because of the black background. However, two things are wrong. You can't see her face properly because the photo is of poor quality, and she is showing too much of the top half of her body. And she only uses her first name, so why is she reluctant to reveal her surname? If she was serious about commenting, she should proudly state who she is in full.
Phillip Drews is happy to use his full name, but not a proper picture of himself. A lot of people like to hide behind animations which they think represent their work and what they do. Phillip is a web developer, so he thought someone sitting behind a laptop would be suitable. It may be quirky and fun, but it doesn't truly reflect who he really is.
Kim hides behind an apple with half a reflection. You have to look carefully to see it is an apple with a reflection, otherwise you could misconstrue this as a strange red egg timer. This kind of gravatar isn't helping Kim or any of the readers of her comments to find out more about her.
Gravatars without links behind their name:
I, as the moderator of my comments, have the power to delete the URL of the commenter, especially if I think it is going to an unscrupulous or spammy destination. This is the case when the comment is a reasonable one, but I don't want the spammer to benefit from being published on my blog.
The gravatars' below do not have links (their names are in black). For some reason I have either deleted the URLs, or they haven't been submitted (this is optional for the commenter).
Franciele Gassy may use her full name, but prefers to hide behind an animation of fruit. There is some writing below the image, but it's too small for us to make out what it is. If this is her company logo, we are none the wiser about who she is and what she does.
Phil Gregory works for an SEO agency. Yes, we have sussed this from the logo he has used for his gravatar. However, we don't know what Phil looks like, so any comments he makes continue to be impersonal, even when he promotes his point of view, however valid it may be.
Rahul Saxena's gravatar is in danger of being seen as spam. You may think I'm being cruel, but not using capital initials in his name and not having a proper picture of Rahul is not doing him any favours. His gravatar shows very little about him and what he does.
What impression do commenters without gravatars give us?
My commenting plugin has allowed me to create a generic logo for commenters without gravatars. The Discussions Settings in WordPress offer a variety of visual alternatives for gravatar-less comments for you to choose from.
Who is Kimberly and what does she look like? And with a name like Kimberley, can we be sure of her gender? Kimberly could be absolutely anybody, and we have no way of knowing who is behind the comment, therefore any assumption can be made.
Well done Gordon Wridgway for writing his full name, which he would have done when submitting his comment. But the lack of gravatar attached to his email address is not doing him any favours, especially if he wrote an excellent comment which may stimulate readers to find out more about him.
How to benefit from a gravatar for commenting
Images are vital when it comes to branding. Now you may think there's nothing wrong with using your company logo for a gravatar for commenting. But you'd be wrong.
Whoever a business employs to socially write on their behalf must have a recognisable presence. Even though they are representing the company, they should not be afraid to reveal themselves. It's important other social users get to know, like and trust the business's social rep if they are to succeed in the commenting world.
Therefore a social rep who comments on a business's behalf should have a gravatar that shows both the commenter's face and the logo in a suitable combination. Perhaps the rep could be wearing some merchandise that has the logo on it?
It's worth considering your company's social style as well as the subjects covered. Writing socially means being friendly and forthcoming, constructive and adding value, transparent and sharing experiences. It is important your rep is able to relate to your customers, rather than put them off by being stuffy, uncaring and distant.
One of the main reasons people comment is to get noticed, hopefully for the right reasons. Impressive commenting can enhance their expertise, which in turn improves their reputation and increases their authority in their chosen field.
Therefore showing a photographic image in your gravatar for commenting reveals to others who you really are. Ideally it should be a recent picture of you. It's not worth being swayed by vanity thinking something from 30 years ago, when you looked a lot better, is a good idea. People want to know who you are now.
This is another reason why you should submit your full name with your gravatar. If you do make a good enough impression, people will be grateful for your full name when it comes to Googling to find out more about you.
Excellent commenting is a great way of working on your influential impact you have on your readers, both on your blog and on others. And this can be accomplished better with a good gravatar.
How to get a gravatar for commenting
Here is Gravatar's video about themselves:
And look, you also get an extra profile about yourself on the web, which lots of people can access. What's not to like?
To get your gravatar for commenting, first get a really good picture of yourself, preferably professionally done. Ideally you should be facing full on, and a smile is always more welcoming.
If you're commenting for business, remember to wear relevant clothing. If you're commenting for yourself, be aware of your background as well as your attire - you don't want to distract the reader away from your face.
Go to https://en.gravatar.com and click on the 'Create Your Own Gravatar' blue button. You will then be asked to create a WordPress.com account:
If you already have one, just log in.
After that, you will asked to confirm the email you wish your gravatar be associated with.
Then you get to pick your gravatar image or upload your new one:
Look at all the different ones I used in the past! Hmmm, maybe it's time to change it again...
You then get to crop your gravatar:
And then select a suitable rating:
And that should be it! If you find you are having trouble, repeat the process via your account icon in the top right corner.
What experiences have you had with your gravatar?
We all love a good story, so if you've had some strange gravatars in the past, let us know about them!
Also, if you've been persuaded by this post to change your gravatar, let us know if this has made a difference for you.
Your gravatar for commenting should focus on benefitting you in your social writing activities. Leave a comment with your new gravatar so I can see it in all its glory!