What is one thing that a social media profile picture says about someone?
Your profile picture is telling people more about your personality than you think. To help you understand the impact of a social media profile picture, we asked social media experts and business leaders this question for their best insights. From knowing the things you value to gauging if you seem helpful, there are many takeaways that users can get just by glancing at your profile photo.
People perceive what’s more important to you based on what you post regularly on social media. One of the things I value most is female empowerment. We use our social media platforms to showcase the power of the female body and to help change irrational taboos that often limit women’s experience, and diminish their quality of life. Through social media, we can educate and motivate more open dialogue about the complexity of the female body and how to properly care for ourselves.
Social Media pictures are a great demonstration of what is important to a person about themselves. While someone should never be reduced or written off by their profile picture alone (unless in cases of profanity or explicit content), what they choose for their picture shows what they want to highlight about themself.
Take a photo of someone hiking. They likely want to communicate that they are adventurous and outdoorsy. A photo of someone in business attire is meant to communicate professionalism. A selfie, is more casual and go-with-the-flow. Look at what is shown in someone’s profile and you can begin to infer what they think is the most important aspect of themselves.
Your social media profile picture is a great chance to show your social alignments. For example, if you are concerned with people affected by war, including a frame with a flag from the affected country is a great way to demonstrate your feelings. Since many others are posting the same sort of pictures, it is easy for others to tell where you stand. Having this in common can help you forge relationships with complete strangers online.
Always think about how the photos you post can help craft the image others have of you. Many amazing lifestyle brands on social media attempt to embody the values, and interests of a group or a culture. Your profile picture is an important part of that. As women, we go through so many different life stages. Think of how a photo of you before motherhood vs. during pregnancy and after. Those photo images are powerful and help to not only demonstrate where you are and where you’re heading in life but can also what you value most.
I see people on LinkedIn who use their passport photos as profile pictures. These people probably aren’t trying to leverage the platform too seriously—they just uploaded the first available picture they had when creating an account. Other people will take photos specifically for their profiles, even hiring a photographer to provide said content. The more tailor-made the picture, the more they want to use the social media app for all its worth.
Nowadays social media profiles show who we aspire to be, rather than strictly who we currently are. I’ve seen CEOs in t-shirts because they want to affect an air of casualness, and likely do so in their businesses as well. People in suits are more formal, while people who make bold fashion choices want to stand out from the sea of pictures. Everyone makes their choices, whether we think about them or not.
A social media profile picture rates you along five dimensions: introversion-extraversion, openness to new experiences, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Conscientious people tend to use pictures that are more natural, colorful and bright. Open-minded people use pictures that are generally more artistic or unusual. Extraverts are often shown surrounded by others, use colorful photos, and smile broadly. Agreeable people use relatively poor pictures of themselves, but are likely smiling and the pictures are bright and lively. Lastly, those higher in neuroticism are more likely to show a blank expression or even hide their face. Your choice of a social media profile picture reveals way more than you may think.
Some users position the camera so its looking slightly up at them and their stoic expression. Others go more top-down and smile brightly so you can see how excited they are. The former may approach business with a more results-oriented approach, while the latter care more about the people and relationships they build along the way.
Some people change their profile picture often or at least every once in a while, and some rarely change it at all. If you barely ever change your profile picture (or if you have not changed it much since you signed up for either Facebook or Instagram), this could indicate that you are not much of a social media user. For instance, if you have been on Facebook for ten years and you still have the same picture, this is a sign that you do not engage much on this platform.
A social media profile picture, above all, tells you how someone likes or wants to be perceived. If every aspect of it seems perfect, i.e. it has good lighting, shows off well-done makeup or a fresh trim, captures the right angle – it shows the person takes extra time to make sure they leave a good impression. They like to control how they’re perceived and know how to do it. On the other hand, if the picture is blurry, less posed, and looks spontaneous, that person is trying to come off as light-hearted or mysterious. In any case, they want to stand out and be seen as someone “different”. It could also mean they don’t know how to use social media, but with younger generations, it’s definitely deliberate.
All social channels are different and that’s why what fits one doesn’t necessarily fit another. So, when judging someone’s profile picture, consider it within context. One thing that social media pictures reveal is creativity. It can be found in the photo framing, body position, make-up, clothes, effects, etc.
For instance, people are more likely to display their creativity on Instagram than on LinkedIn due to the nature of the platform. But even a LinkedIn profile photo can tell you about a person’s creative affinity. Have they chosen a passport-style shot or done something that sets them apart?
Can this person help me? More than anything else we hope customers believe that we’re here to serve their needs. A social media profile picture can convey this message.
Studies show that an open smile exudes friendliness and trustworthiness. Interestingly, half-smiles and smirks indicate lower levels of authenticity.
Anything that implies an intentional attempt to hide anything, such as sunglasses, hats or dim lighting can deliver a hint of dishonesty. In short, we hope that our social media profile pictures present our genuine intention to help!
You’ve heard what the experts had to say, now it’s your turn.
What approach are you going to take with your social media profile image? Leave a comment below.