Updated by on May 29, 2014 in Blog Post | 2 comments

The most important visual content on any Social Media Platform

is YOU

“A Picture Tells a Thousand Words” – Arthur Brisbane, newspaper editor of the New York Times, as quoted from a speech he presented on journalism and marketing, March 1911. 

That quote is as relevant today, if not more so, in the virtual world we now market ourselves and our businesses.

In a World Wide Web full of billions of images. How can we possibly tell OUR thousand words?  

How do we get seen and heard?

It’s easy!

Start with a profile picture. A good profile picture says a lot about who you are, not only as a business person, but also as a private one. It creates an identity. A connection, so when someone visits your page, it feels like they are walking into a shop or an office and being greeted by a smiling face.

Do you have a recognisable profile picture of yourself across all your Social Media Platforms? An image, so potential customers and clients, people you network with and your future employers and employees know what you look like?

We scroll through media feeds with greater speed than ever before on our mobile devices. What is going to make us stop for even the briefest of moments? An image that catches our eye? A face we might know? Someone we would like to connect with?

I offer the following 9 tips for ‘profile picture perfection’. These tips are not intended to offend anyone, but rather to encourage you to sit back and ‘take a look at yourself’ objectively. To see yourself as others may see you and make sure it is exactly what you want.

Does your profile picture on your business page appear :- .

  1. Appropriate for your industry? While not everyone needs to be in a suit for their business profile picture, you should present an image appropriate for the industry you are involved in or want to be involved in. Your profile picture doesn’t necessarily have to be a close cropped ‘head and shoulders’ shot, but your face should be recognizable. In saying that, a smaller image of yourself can work if it contains the ‘right’ graphic elements and doesn’t fall into the ‘cringe’ category. If you happen to be a creative person in the arts industry you may well get away with a creative profile picture, but if you aren’t – then you can’t. No avatars and no dress-ups.
  1. Up to date? You may love that picture of yourself from 10/20/30 years ago, but who are you kidding? What do you say to the person that wants to meet with you and do business? What impression does it give? How do they come to terms with a totally different person to what they were expecting? That you don’t like who you are now?  You wished you still lived in the 80’s? Don’t hide behind a picture that suggests you aren’t comfortable with who you are now. Or that you haven’t had time, or worse, couldn’t be bothered updating your profile. Even if you wished you still lived in the eighties, don’t hide from the person you are now! Embrace the present so you can live in the future.

  1. Motivated? Do you look like you love what you do? Are you dressed smartly? Or have you somehow uploaded a picture of yourself fishing, or sky-diving, or laid back on the sand, holidaying at the beach? Suggesting maybe, that you are the sort of person who would rather be anywhere else than at work?  

  1. Professional? No, this doesn’t mean you necessarily have to go and have a professional photo taken (by a photographer with a camera in their hand, often obscuring part or all of their face … btw, I wonder, why that is? Why are there more photographers with a prop in their profile picture than in any other industry I can think of … hmmmm, strange??) So no, not necessarily a professional photo, but it does need to ‘look professional'; it needs to have good lighting, your face needs to be in focus, and you should aim for an uncluttered background. No bathroom selfies, sorry. 

  1. Just you? You can’t cut yourself out of group photos. It honestly looks bad, especially if part of the other person is still in the picture; some stray hair off to the right, half an arm or a cheek close to yours, but missing … and usually these sorts of photos are taken at parties, so your attire may not be entirely appropriate either? 

  1. Just you? I have to clarify this point again. No husbands, no babies, no pets! Seriously, don’t do it. Don’t be judged on your homelife. Especially as a young woman holding a baby. First thought that comes to mind is; ‘this woman isn’t ready to leave her child’. As an employee she could be a liability. Sick days with kids … I understand, I am a Mum, too! But don’t be judged by that first glance at your profile picture. Prove you are capable of the job and can leave your family life where it belongs. At home. Fill your private Facebook page with all your extra’s and if anyone stalks you they will see that you have a million friends,  are happily married, are a great Mum or Dad and love your cat <3 

  1. Connected to the viewer? When you make eye contact, conversation follows in reality, why not apply that same theory to the virtual world. While the customs and significance of eye contact may vary widely between cultures, it is a key non-verbal communication in the Western World. Eye contact lets someone know you are ‘interested’ with the briefest of glances, even across a crowded room. On a platform with thousands and thousands of profile images, that ‘brief glance’ can make someone stop and pay attention. Have an industry appropriate image that appears professional, motivated and establishes eye contact to engage your audience, make it meaningful and please don’t wear sunglasses. Establish the first rule of non verbal communication and it will pay off. 

  1. The correct size? There is nothing worse than an out-of-focus, pixelated image that is unrecognizable in a profile picture.  Make sure it fits like a glove.

  1. Blank? Actually, this is the worst profile picture of all! What is a blank profile picture telling your potential clients and customers, your future employees/employers or even the network you are a part of? That you aren’t confident in your appearance, maybe just shy, that you don’t have time to upload a photo or worse, you just couldn’t be bothered, which will go down really well at an job interview … A blank profile picture tells me nothing! And I lose interest very quickly. 

LinkedIn regularly asks me to take a look and see if any of the faceless profile pictures in an extremely long feed, that continually refreshes at lightening speed, may be “someone I might know” …how could I possibly tell? In fact, I skip over any blank profiles on all my Social Media platforms, because I am not interested and I don’t have the time. You have one brief moment to capture your potential audiences attention, so don’t stuff it up! 

And just in case I haven’t proven my point yet, the guys at TheLadder.com have invented an eyetracking heatmap that shows business recruiters spend 19% of their time on your profile page looking at your profile picture. 1/5th of their time spent on your resumé is just looking at YOU! 

Remember, first impressions make lasting impressions and could mean the difference between getting that job you always wanted, being asked to give a public talk, landing a million dollar contract, building relationships within your industry or simply … ‘nothing at all’ 

Your profile picture will significantly enhance your on-line business presence and maximise all possibilities. Make sure it is the best it can be. 

Belinda Fettke