A Practical Guide to the Parts of a Perfect Profile Pic

Social networking websites are a massively important marketing tool; websites like Facebook and MySpace (that still exists, right?) are great for catching up with old friends and making new ones, and for finding out what’s happening this weekend; and statistically speaking, LinkedIn is gaining two new members every second, and more and more job recruiters are using it as an indispensable resource for hiring. I use LinkedIn a lot, and I also spend a good amount of time on Facebook and Twitter, and one of the things that concerns me the most is people’s profile pictures; the profile picture is the first thing that you see, and that makes it pretty damn important. So, as you may be able to guess from the title, this article is about taking the perfect profile picture for each type of social media website; but first, why is it so important?

Like I said above, the profile picture is usually the first thing that you see; that means that when the person thinking about hiring you checks out your Facebook page, seeing you do a keg stand probably isn’t going to help your chances. Facebook is meant to be casual though; what’s worse is when your LinkedIn (a website primarily for business and professional networking) profile pic is the same.

The Big Three

For the purposes of this article, social networking websites fall into three categories: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Facebook covers the websites that are primarily for catching up with friends and family, and letting people know what is going on in your life; Twitter is for letting people know what is going on in your life as it is happening; and LinkedIn is for business networking and recruiting.

LinkedIn

The Quick Dos and Don’ts

Do:

  • Have a photo
  • Brush your hair
  • Dress for a job interview (Dress shirt, suit and tie, etc)
  • Cover tattoos and remove piercings
  • Get it done professionally

Don’t

  • Have any alcohol in the picture
  • Have distracting things in the background
  • Use a company logo or product image
In Detail

LinkedIn is primarily used for business networking and for helping recruiters, so your entire profile should be neat and tidy, and above all, professional; this goes double for your profile picture. Make sure that you actually use a photo; profiles without pictures look unprofessional at best, and like you are trying to hide something at worst. As a general guideline, stick with shots from the shoulders up; any more and you run the risk of being indistinguishable due to the small picture size. Dress the way you would for a job interview (click here if you need help with that), and make sure that your hair is tidy, and that any tattoos are covered and piercings are removed. I also recommend that you have the picture taken by a professional, but it isn’t necessary; check out the pictures below if you are looking for some inspiration.

All excellent profile pictures. Obviously don't blur your own face.

All excellent profile pictures. Obviously don’t blur your own face.

Make sure not to use a company logo or product image for your profile picture; your LinkedIn page is for your personal information, keep company images on your business page.

Facebook

The Quick Dos and Don’ts

Do

  • Use a different photo than your LinkedIn photo
  • Be fully clothed
  • Wear casual clothing
  • Feel free to have a drink in your hand
  • Be relaxed

Don’t

  • Be (obviously) drunk
  • Make gang signs
  • Use a selfie
  • Make a stupid face (duck face is for ducks, not people)
  • Use pictures of your children and pets

You have a lot more leeway with your Facebook Photo than you do with your LinkedIn photo; it’s okay to be more casual, but keep it respectable. Don’t send mixed messages with your LinkedIn photo being you in a suit, and your Facebook photo being of you doing that keg stand that I mentioned. Keep the photo casual, something taken at a barbecue, or while out with friends, is perfect. Don’t use selfies taken in front of the mirror (better yet, don’t take them at all), and don’t make stupid faces or try to show off your abs (or lack thereof). Unless it’s a photo of you at the beach, keep your clothes on. Don’t use photos of your pets or children; just make your pet its own account, and embarrass your children in real life instead. For a flowchart guide to choosing a good Facebook profile pic, click here.

Twitter

The guidelines for your twitter page are basically the same as they are for your Facebook page; no selfies, and don’t look like a tool. If the Twitter account is for your business, your best option is your business logo; it’s going to be more recognisable than a product image, and will increase your brand recognition.

Some General Advice

Once a photo is posted online, it is going to stay there; just because it isn’t your profile picture, doesn’t mean that someone is going to find it. With that in mind, I recommend that you be very careful about exactly what you are posting to your social networking websites. Don’t post anything that you wouldn’t say to your grandmother, and if you do, make sure that your settings are restricted so that only your friends can see it; the public doesn’t need to know about how wasted you get every weekend, and you certainty don’t need to let your boss know that the sick day that you took was so that you could go to a cricket match.

Just For Fun

Because where would we be without memes and cats?

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