Not Just for Dating Anymore
With the growth of social media for networking, the profile picture has become a major decision for anyone who participates. Which picture will people click on in LinkedIn? Who will follow me in Twitter? Am I turning people off with my stern look on Facebook? Is my smiley smile too smiley? What do I do with my eyes? What should I wear?
On OKCupid, “the Google of Online Dating,” the profile picture had 90% greater influence than the profile text. Even if you aren’t looking for a date, they are still very important. I’ve never, for example, followed a person without a profile picture unless I already knew them (and wanted to connect).
There is a solution in the Buffer.com blog about sharing, creating, analyzing, and converting with social media. Kevan Lee reports research results on the science and psychology of profile pictures in “The Research & Science Behind Finding Your Best Profile Picture.” (People actually study this stuff!)
Definitely read this article if you want to understand why but these are the top recommendations:
- Smile with teeth
- Dark-colored suits, light-colored button downs
- Jawline with a shadow
- Head-and-shoulders, or head-to-waist photo
- Asymmetrical composition
- Unobstructed eyes
And things to avoid:
- Hair, glare, and shadows over the eyes
- Laughing smile
So now you know. If you doubt these recommendations, Lee explains how the research was done including all the statistics, graphs, and test pictures. Interesting results: Women get more attention making eye contact with the camera; men receive more avoiding eye contact. Women can be more flirty and men definitely not. Men don’t even do well smiling!
Guy Kawasaki’s four keys:
- Faces only. No family, friends, dogs, logos, etc.
- Asymmetrical. Use the Rule of Thirds to create your profile picture
- Face the light. The source of light should come in front of you.
- At least 600 pixels wide. There are varying shapes and sizes of profile pictures on social media. A 600-pixel image will look great no matter where it’s viewed.
The Rule of Thirds
Draw a Tic Tac Toe grid on the picture. Put key elements on the intersections and avoid putting a key element, like your eyes, in the center square. More info at 3.7 Designs.
The OKCupid page with profile pictures of the staff is an excellent example of profile pictures that meet these recommendations — although not all of them. Those that don’t stand out.
There is more but I found this enough to build high anxiety over why people aren’t clicking on your posts.