So let’s break the main question into three parts:
Question #1: Should I use my company logo as my social media avatar in general?
The best answer I can give here: You better not.
Social media connects human beings. Your logo may scare off some of the potential followers and thus screw your profile building efforts.
People are more willing to follow people.
Showing the persona behind the social media profile (even when it is related to business) is a must.
I have a rule: I only add to #socialmedia contacts people who have a *real* person as an avatar (no celebs, nature or kittens). You?
— Ann Smarty (@seosmarty) June 12, 2012
Remember wildly popular business Twitter accounts that have built real-life-personas:
Question #2: Can I be banned for not using my real photo as my avatar?
My answer: You might be
While constantly-evolving Google Plus Terms of Service currently don’t explicitly require you to have your headshot as your avatar (the only network that makes it a must is LinkedIn), Google Plus representatives have many times made it obvious that they want profiles to be personal.
For business use, please take advantage of pages that can be built using a personal account of the representative.
Besides, a profile with a business logo is more likely to be suspected of spamming.
Question #3: Will my logo appear in rich snippets for the claimed article?
My answer: No
Update: John Mu of Google has confirmed that you must have a headshot of yours in order to see your Google Plus avatar in Google’s rich snippet:
For authorship rich snippets you need to have a “good, recognizable headshot as your profile photo”: http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1408986
Apart from that, you can do what you like 🙂
Down to the bottom of the linked thread, we find some personal experience for that case:
I tried using my website favicon and got the message “your icon does not appear to have a face.” That was weeks ago and none of my posts appear in the SERPs with an image.
Conclusion: Using your personal photo as Google Plus avatar is your safest and the best bet.
The Comparison of TOS of Major Social Media Networks: For you to know when you can actually be banned and why
Your Social Media Profile Picture Cheatsheet: For you to change your Google Plus avatar now.
Speaking of Google Plus, don’t forget to add Internet Marketing Ninjas page to your circles!