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The Power of a Social Media Profile Picture: How to Make a Strong First Impression

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  • The Power of a Social Media Profile Picture: How to Make a Strong First Impression

First impressions matter. In business and in your personal life, online and offline, that first impression you have on someone can make or break your business opportunity. Especially in the world of social media, a first impression can persuade or dissuade someone from subscribing to your profile.

Now, there are many opportunities to leave a first impression. It can be through a static post, when someone sees your reel for the first time, and of course, it can be that moment when someone sees your profile photo.

social media profile picture

Photo by dole777 on Unsplash

Let’s not forget the first impression you can make when engaging with people in the comments, or when commenting on other people’s posts.

For now, let’s stick with the basics, talk about the power of your profile photo on social media, and take a look at the best practices you can use to make it work for you.

Here’s what you need to do.

Important Benefits of a Good Profile Photo

Every aspect of your social media profile matters, on every platform.

You might think that the core value of your profile(s) lies in the content you create. You wouldn’t be wrong to think so, but you have to remember that your profile picture is also value-driven content.

With that in mind, there are numerous benefits to investing in a powerful profile photo, other than just making a good first impression.

Inspiring Trust and Exuding Confidence

Every social media platform has a design hierarchy pertaining to personal and corporate profiles.

This means that some design elements come before others and that profiles should be laid out in such a way as to guide the user’s attention through the profile’s most important elements. This is crucial because it gives the user a complete view of the profile, and it allows them to get to know the profile quickly–from the visuals to the description and beyond.

It’s also crucial for your sales strategy because you want to instill confidence in lead generation and nurturing toward conversion. Take the insurance industry as an example, where people who learn how to sell insurance effectively focus on their personal brand and online presence.

Prospects will research them online before deciding to get in touch, and having a profile photo that exudes confidence is the first step toward a successful sales process.

As you already know, your profile picture sits at the top of the design hierarchy which will influence their decision to buy something from you.

This is the perfect moment to instill trust and confidence in your users quickly. A good profile photo can lock the user in and inspire them to keep perusing through the profile.

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It will inspire them to click on your links, engage with your content, and check out your entire bio, which can persuade them to get in touch.

And it all starts with the profile picture.

Getting More People on Your Profile

Simply put, you want as many people to land on your profile as possible.

There are many ways to get a higher profile click-through rate (CTR,) but in almost every scenario, the photo you use will play a crucial role in inspiring that initial click.

Why? Again, because of the visual elements, the trust you instill in the user, and unique visual approach you use. More on that last one in a bit.

Good profile photos make for great shareable content, which will get your face and your profile in front of more eyes and more visitors on your profile.

Putting a Face on a Brand

Let’s not mince words–your profile photo is the face of your brand.

Whether you’re building up your personal or corporate brand on your social channels, this is your biggest opportunity to make your brand more memorable upon first contact.

It’s important to put a face on the profile on all social networks that you want to monetize because a good profile photo opens outreach and engagement opportunities. This goes for B2C and B2B spheres.

It Starts with Your Personal Brand

Personal brand on social media is the most important element of long-term engagement, growth, and success in general. Whether you are monetizing your brand through content and sponsorships or if you are using your social profiles for outreach and prospecting–your personal brand will make or break your strategy.

Even companies are nowadays moving away from corporate branding and prospecting, and are focusing more and more on customer acquisition through personal brands.

Take LinkedIn, for example, where corporate growth is driven through the personal profiles and brands of the company’s CEO, managers, and decision-makers. The foundation of smart outreach lies in LinkedIn automation coupled with fleshed-out personal profiles that will inspire trust and confidence in the prospect.

While people might not even open a direct message sent from a company page, they are far more likely to open and respond to a message sent from a personal account.

But whether you are reaching out to them or if you want people to reach out to you first, you need to adapt your profile photo to the platform.

Understanding Professional and Non-Professional Platforms

Professional platforms are social networks that are specifically geared towards connecting business people, expanding professional networks, and driving professional growth.

A clear example of a professional network would be, of course, LinkedIn.

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On the other hand, non-professional platforms are social networks that primarily focus on engaging and entertaining content. These platforms can also have a professional component to them, like the ability to advertise products and services.

A clear example here would be Instagram or TikTok.

It’s a good idea to diversify your profile photos between different social channels while keeping the brand identity consistent. This will make your brand as a whole more engaging and will align you better with the core idea and purpose of a platform.

  • Use creative and colorful photos on non-professional platforms
  • Use a more uniform color palette on professional networks
  • Be creative with your backgrounds on non-professional platforms
  • Use a solid color background on LinkedIn to let your pose and face stand out
  • Know which pose to use on different platforms

Don’t worry, we’ll be expanding on all the points, so let’s start with some poses for your photos.

The Details That Make a Power Pose

A power pose is a bit of a buzzword in the business world, and what constitutes a power pose can vary greatly depending on the industry you’re in.

You also need to think of what you’re saying to a visitor with your pose, your facial expression, and the angle of the shot.

For a professional, confident look, you can’t go wrong with your arms crossed, sporting a genuine smile and a strong and confident gaze. But if you do it completely enface, you might come off as threatening, so why not change the angle slightly?

Rotate your full body 45 degrees and then rotate your upper body back to face the camera, softening the angle of the shot and giving you a nice silhouette. Throw in a wide smile or a charming grin and you’re a professional that’s more approachable than the competitors.

It’s the little details that make a big difference.

But do you need such a professional pose on a non-professional social network? Chances are, no matter the industry you’re in, that you don’t.

So, for Instagram or any other similar platform, you can get more creative with your poses and your surroundings.

Here are some ideas:

  • Look out into the distance, while sitting back in an armchair, with a cup of coffee in hand.
  • Lean against a wall, tilt your head to the side, and smile.
  • Don’t be afraid to wear sunglasses in your creative profile photos.
  • Take a photo from the side as you’re walking past a beautiful building or a nice tree line.
  • If you have a furry friend, be sure to include them in the photo.

The possibilities are endless, but make sure that you have a variety of professional and non-professional social profiles to make your brand more interesting.

Candid vs. Staged Profile Photos

When it comes to candid and staged photos, both can work for any social network.

That said, posed photos can always work no matter the platform, but candid photos can only work if the quality is there.

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What do we mean by quality? Here’s a checklist:

  • Make sure the lighting is soft.
  • Make sure your attire is appropriate.
  • Make sure your backdrop is appropriate, without clutter or unwanted or offensive elements.
  • Make sure the image is symmetrical–try cropping the image to improve its proportions and composition.
  • Make sure that you’re in focus. Candid photos can often be out of focus, so inspect the image carefully.

On the other hand, you can get a professional to take your profile photos for all the platforms, and you can even do a content shoot while you’re there so that you have something to post. You can definitely take good profile pics on your own, but if you can, you should work with a professional to take them to the next level.

Adding Your Brand to the Image

No matter the social platform and no matter if you’re promoting yourself as the name and face of the brand or if you’re promoting your company, there’s always room to include your brand in the photo. This means featuring a key brand element in the profile photo with you.

This is your chance to get creative on all types of social platforms, as you can include a brand element almost anywhere.

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Branding is an essential part of social media and digital marketing in general, so make sure to stay relevant this way. For example, you can print out your company’s logo to have it in the photo with you, or you can photograph yourself using one of your core products.

You can learn more on how to win at social media by getting digital marketing updates from MarketingFOMO where they discuss similar creative ways to make your social profiles stand out. Branding your social profiles is one of those key tactics you can use to introduce your brand through your profile image.

Then, you can use the description to tie the image with your website and your core offering, inspiring the visitor to click on the link to your site.

What Kind of Backdrops Should You Use?

Choosing the right backdrop can get a bit more complicated than simply using solid backgrounds for professional photos. And it definitely gets more complicated when using creative backdrops.

You want the background to complement your personality, first and foremost, but you also want it to complement you–the focus of the image. Don’t let beautiful backgrounds overtake the photo. Instead, keep yourself the focal point.

You can do this by:

  • Choosing more neutral backgrounds
  • Blurring the background slightly
  • Cropping the image to make yourself more visible
  • Color-correcting the image to emphasize yourself
  • Use props (like a colorful coffee cup) to make yourself pop more against the background

On professional platforms, however, it’s always a good idea to use a solid background, but you can still get creative and choose different shades and colors. Don’t instantly go for plain white–choose off-white, forest gray, or pastels instead.

Changing Your Profile Picture: How to Spark Attention

When and how should you change your profile photo to keep things interesting?

Keep in mind that the bulk of your profile engagement will come from a constant stream of quality content. So in that sense, your profile image doesn’t need to change often.

At best, you can change a good profile image every six to twelve months. But when you do, you want to make a notable difference.

Make sure to change the colors that you’re wearing, to change your pose and setting, and to change your background. This will spark attention and will prompt people to click on your profile and the image itself.

It will also inspire engagement in the form of likes, comments, and even shares.

You want to capitalize on this change, so be sure to include a CTA with your new profile picture, in the description or in the bio.

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Use this opportunity to update your bio as well, to complement the new photo.

Over to You

There’s a lot you can achieve by just investing in a good profile photo for your social profiles, but you need to do it right. There are some subtle and not-so-subtle differences between social networks and their audiences, and it’s always important to keep in mind what different audiences expect to see on different channels.

All in all, this is your opportunity to make your social media profiles more impactful and approachable by making your profile photos more aligned with the platform and your audience. At the same time, you can use these tips to make these photos just a tad more unique and engaging, while staying true to your personal brand.

Follow the tips we’ve laid out, experiment a bit, monitor the engagement that these photos generate, and adapt over time.

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