When's the last time you walked up to a building and started a conversation? Shared a story with a roadside billboard? Chatted up a logo?
Never? Then why did you put your company logo in the space allotted for a photo on your Twitter profile?
"I have to say I've never considered using my personal photo on our Twitter account," said Sean Rollinson, marketing manager of Escapes.ca, an online Canadian travel agency. His "never considered" response is typical. Most small and medium business owners interviewed said it never occurred to them to use anything but a company logo in their social media profiles.
If you insert a logo where a picture belongs on Twitter, it serves as a wall between you and your customers.
Here are three reasons why you should replace your company logo with a personal photo on Twitter:
1. You will get more followers
The space limitations of Twitter don't permit lengthy introductions. There's little preamble to the follow/don't follow decision. You are judged on your profile.
A picture of a smiling person with a profile that says, "Adam Andrews, CEO of Adam's Custom Printing, dog lover and double-bogey golfer," is inviting. Even if people have no current printing needs, they might follow Adam if they like dogs and golf. They'll take some time to get to know Adam and they'll remember him when they -- or their own followers -- need pamphlets, brochures or white papers printed.
They'll only follow a faceless Adam's Custom Printing if they need something printed right now and they are comparison shopping. And they'll remove Adam's Custom Printing from their list of followers as soon as they get a price quote or a discount coupon.
If you want to build relationships with your customers, include a photo of yourself with your Twitter profile.
2. You will get more engagement with your followers
People don't have conversations with companies. At least not pleasant ones. They'll tweet a company if they have a complaint -- their luggage was lost or their shoes didn't get delivered on time -- but they have little other reason to talk to a company about their travel or footwear needs.
There's a mortgage company that's been on Twitter for three years. It sends out dozens of tweets a day, but elicits zero engagement, according to Followerwonk, a site that analyzes Twitter use. No one has replied or clicked "retweet" or "favorite" on any of the company's more than 58,000 tweets.
The National Association of Realtors estimates that 5.29 million homes will sell in 2013. And the mortgage company hasn't talked to a single buyer on Twitter.
Julie Hunter, owner of Ultimate Nourishment, saw her Twitter following quadruple in two weeks after she put her company logo behind her photo on her Twitter profile. And the new followers are chatting with her daily, asking questions on Twitter and shopping on her website.
3. You can create multiple Twitter accounts
You're limited to one account in your company name, but you can establish any number of personal accounts with your company logo in the background.
The benefits of linking one face to your company multiplies. Some customers feel important when they connect with a company president, others intimidated. Establishing multiple accounts gives you greater opportunity to reach a larger following.
Use caution with the multiple-account approach. Not everyone in your company is likely be of value as a brand ambassador on Twitter and some may harm your company's reputation.
Rollinson now says he thinks "taking a more personal approach makes people more comfortable with your brand and makes them more likely to engage and remember you."