I have some comments to make on an article I published on superperformance.com a couple of days ago: Michele PW’s advice in “3 Crucial Elements Every Moneymaking Website Must Have.”
One of the elements she suggests — and which many well-known internet marketing advisers also suggest — is that you have a good photo of yourself at various places in your site or blog.
The reasons for using a photo in marketing materials of all kinds are excellent ones. The main reason is that it “humanizes” your business. People feel they get a better idea of what you are like if they can see you. Do you have a kind face? Do you seem friendly? Do you look professional and competent? Studies show that if someone has to select a vendor to call from a handful of business cards, he’ll pick one with a picture on it over others that are beautifully designed and informative. Ads with any kind of photos get more inquiries than text or even text and illustrations and ads with photos of the people involved in the business often outperform the others.
I know that, for example, one of my brothers puts his photo on his business cards as well as on his website and on magnetic advertising panels on the sides and back of his delivery car. It makes a great deal of difference. People even specifically comment to him that the reason they called him was because of the photo.
But there is a serious drawback to putting your photo on the internet. With the erosion of privacy that has occurred and continues to occur as a result of the vast amount of data online, almost anyone can be located fairly easily. Your business address is something you routinely publish, and your home address is something that your state or local government routinely publishes.
If you have a picture of yourself on your site or blog, — or especially if you have one on your business’ page on social networking sites — and someone takes issue with something you publish, he/she can probably track you down at home or work and confront you face to face. Your photo makes it easy to recognize you. You can’t deny your identity to someone who’s seen your pic. And if you are “geotagging” those pics, you are even easier to find. But it isn’t easy for you to recognize possible stalkers or others who might harm you or your family.
Internet safety and security advisers are constantly saying be careful about putting your kids’ photos online on social networking sites. But you also have to think about the security risks to yourself? Are you using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. to promote your business and your blog? Do you have photos of yourself on those sites, too?
I’ve seen this debated off and on for many years. Just as an example, it’s been debated among psychologists about how much to publicize about themselves, including showing photos, in marketing materials online and off. (The debate started long before the internet was available.) We’re supposed to keep a professional distance, sure. But more than that, those of us who work as therapists can, say, become targets of irate mates of clients who are in the middle of divorces or parents of children we’ve interviewed in custody battles.
It’s sad that something that should be so easy is actually complicated. But whatever business you’re in online, you may be safer in not showing a photo of yourself. No matter how good it is for marketing.
Just something to think about.