A picture is worth a thousand followers

  • October 26, 2012
  • INK Team

This post comes from INK intern Cody Permenter. 

We have all seen them. The poorly cropped, the cat or dog, the terribly drawn logo— the social media profile pictures that make you just “ugh.”  While you may think your profile picture doesn’t matter, choosing an image can be serious business. It may be the first impression that someone has of you, and research shows that it may even predict future happiness.

Profile pictures across your social media networks should all be consistent, but each network gives you flexibility in what kind of photo you can choose. I would say that LinkedIn and Twitter are two of the most commonly used social media networks for professionals to make connections in their industries. Finding the voice of your image is essential to representing your brand effectively.

Here are my tips on how to make your profile pictures stand out:



1. Show some personality!

Twitter is a social network that you can have some fun with. Unlike other more “professional” networks, Twitter’s nature encourages creativity and personality. Choose a photo that defines who you are—whatever that may be.

2. Don’t change it too often.

People who follow you may not even know your real name, but they will learn what your photo looks like. Changing your photo often may confuse your followers or weaken your following because they don’t recognize you anymore.

3. Pick bright, memorable colors.

Choosing a bright color will help you stand out from others. Bright oranges and reds make for an eye-catching photograph.

Callie Schweitzer (left), Director of Marketing and Special Projects for Vox Media, has a successful Twitter picture because she is wearing an eye-catching color and a warm smile.  Andrew Kaczynski (center), political reporter for Buzzfeed, has a great photo because his face is clearly visible, the background colors are eye-catching and the cat adds a bit of personality. My profile picture (right) has a noticeable orange background and a picture that shows my personality. 



1. Keep in professional.

With more and more employers utilizing LinkedIn to seek out potential employees, it is best to keep your photograph professional. You wouldn’t put a picture of yourself enjoying margaritas downtown on your résumé, so don’t put it on your LinkedIn profile.

2. Make it a headshot.

Choose a photograph that is from your shoulders up to your head. You should also dress appropriately to the industry you are involved with. No scuba diving suit, unless you are, well, a professional scuba diver.

3. Smile!

Research has shown that smiling reveals that you are confident and telling the truth. Some argue that your profile picture is even more important than the words on your profile because people make split second decisions if they want to connect, based on profile pictures.

Matt Berndt (left), Director of Communication & Career Services at CSO Research, uses a white background to make his photo pop. Dr. Liz Alexander (right), consultant and author, opts for a solid background with a close-up smile.