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I think Plash may have a point, (while debatable) in these days of narcissism, these social networks could be interpreted as a self promotion tool, not only for, artists or professionals of any kind, but just random people to promote their own tastes, likes and dislikes as individuals.
Just a quick look on myspace will show you how for example brand fanatics (people that like to wear clothing items by recognizable brands) turned that into avatars, so instead of seeing some guy coming out from a tanning bed wearing a tight shirt from ed hardy, you will now see a little avatar on his page, is almost like a transition of brands from real world items into inexpensive animated gifs. These in both real and virtual worlds allow "individuals" to define how they would prefer their own personal image to be perceived. And in some strange way that could be classified in some sort of personal marketing.
At least I think so..
Applied to design, there was the Tropicana issue, that developed mainly in facebook as an organized response from consumers to a product loosing its recognizable image. People organized on Facebook and other social networks asking to change it back.
hope that helps, not sure if this is the direction you wanted this to go to though.. probably not