Admit it – when you log onto social media sites you make instant snap judgements about people based on their profile pictures. Our brains are wired to do this. Sure, we all think about our snap judgements and tell ourselves that they probably aren’t true. But there’s still power in these instant snap judgements. How you present yourself online matters because of these instant snap judgements. Putting that extra little bit of thought into your personal branding online can help you get jobs, make friends, and even get dates.
In the United States alone there are roughly 264 million people with social media profiles. Nearly 140 million people use LinkedIn for their professional profiles, and 40 million people use online dating profiles. That’s a lot of people with a lot of photos online. On dating sites people look at women’s profile pictures for an average of 81 seconds, while people look at men’s profile pictures for an average of 58 seconds. That’s not a lot of time to make a first impression, so every bit of visual information counts.
Professional there are some accepted best practices for professional photos. Your eyes should be slightly squinted - wide open eyes are perceived as less competent. Smile with teeth - closed mouths are considered less likeable by two times. Use proper lighting - flat lighting makes you look less competent and influential. Dress in dark suits and white so you appear more competent and influential. Lastly, shoot your profile pic from the waist up or head and shoulders but not close up on the face - it makes you look more competent and influential. If you’re unsure, use a website like Photofeeler.com to get feedback on your options.
The text you use to accompany your profile is also very important. As many as 70% of potential employers scan social media before making a job offer, so this is your place to shine. In fact, many people believe that LinkedIn is now more important and valuable than a traditional resume. Keep it short - remember this is a highlight reel. But don’t make it all about work, either - include some things about your hobbies and interests. Tell a story about who you are as a person instead of trying to be overly dry and corporate.
Learn more about the art and science of personal branding online from this infographic.Is it time for a serious social media checkup?