The perfect social media profile picture

10 tips to create the perfect social media profile picture

Your profile picture (a.k.a. headshot), is the single most important personal marketing tool you have on social media, or any digital channel for that matter! It is always the first thing people see when they browse your profile, and quickly differentiates serious professionals from amateurs. If you want to be taken seriously, you need a high quality social media profile picture. So I put together a quick guide on how to get your perfect professional headshot for you to download.

Profile Photo Guide
Click here to download Profile Photo Guide (789.11 KB 20 downloads)

I had previously written about why you need to keep your “biography/text profile” up to date, here are the top 10 best practices for creating the ideal professional profile picture:

  1. You should be fresh & clearly in focus

    Don’t be artsy or put yourself in the background. You are the main subject of the photo. You should be perfectly in focus, with your eyes open and full of life. Not droopy, closed, tired, or worn out. Try to take the picture in the morning so you’re fresh.

  2. Only you should be present in the photo

    No group photos please. Remember that you are the star of this photo. Nobody else should be visible at all, not even in the background.

  3. Clothing

    Wear professional attire. For gentlemen this is a suit, shirt and tie. Freshly shaven or beard recently trimmed. Ladies please ensure your shoulders are covered, not strapless, strappy, flowery or floral. Jewelry should be minimal and professional. Clothing should ideally be solid colors, pin stripes are acceptable, not distracting prints or loud tartans.

  4. Posture

    Your posture communicates a lot about you, after your face it’s the first thing people tend to notice. Stand straight, shoulders back, chest out, slight angle to the camera. Chin ever so slightly up. Do not tilt your head to the side. You should look confident and capable.Your hands should not be near your face. Keeps your arms crossed – this will help position your shoulders too.

    Your photographer should be able to help you with this. For corporate profile photos, ensure that all subjects use the same two poses. (1) Facing the camera squarely (2) Facing the camera with torso slightly angled (as shown in the outline picture).

    Photofeeler has a brilliant article on posture and different poses for ladies & gents, it’s worth reading through; and good advice for pretty much any photo you’re going to be in!

    Anatomy of a perfect profile picture

  5. Smile

    It’s surprising how many people don’t smile for photos. You want to seem welcoming and open to conversation, so smile naturally.

  6. Background, location & lighting

    The background should be a single solid color. No patterns, no plants, nothing busy or distracting. The color should not be the same as something you’re wearing or your skin tone. This makes it easy for the background to be removed digitally, a more appropriate background can be added as needed. Ask your photographer to provide your headshot with a transparent background (a.k.a. no background).You want the lighting to be uniform, no harsh shadows or color lighting effects.

  7. Colors

    Full color only please. No black & white or sepia photos please. Don’t apply any Instagram (or other) filters.

  8. Professional photography

    Even if you have a friend that’s taken a course in photography, I always recommend going to a photo studio to get your photos taken. There’s a big difference between a professional studio photo shoot and one taken at home. This is the mental image people are going to recall, make it as brilliant as you can.

  9. Keep it up-to-date & use a recent photo

    Your profile picture needs to accurately represent how you look. That doesn’t mean you need to update it every time you cut your hair, but you shouldn’t be using a photo that was taken 10 years ago.

  10. Sizing & Positioning

    Whilst social media and other profiles will generally not use more than 500×500 pixel images, when it comes to photo sizes, the bigger the better. Please ensure your photographer provides you high resolution photos (Full HD or a lot more). This ensures that your photos can be used in print or on bigger screens. You don’t want to be chasing your photographer one year’s later when you need to print your headshot in a magazine.

    To ensure that your profile picture makes best use of the available space without over crowding, you should fit your photo to match the outline provided. This places your eyes at the 1/3 mark, leaving a feeling of empty space, without being too zoomed out or too close in.Most social networks will automatically resize your profile picture to match their requirements.
    You should ensure that your headshot is a large (16:9) format picture, but that your photographer also gives you one that is a perfect square so that it looks correct when scaled automatically.

    LinkedIN 400×400
    Twitter 400×400
    Google 250×250
    Facebook 180×180
    Instagram 110×110

Your photographer may have their own inputs & ideas, but this will provide the basic outline of what you’d like to achieve. If your photographer permits, take several photos, and ask them for a set both with and without backgrounds.

Here are some samples of what your profile picture should not look like:

What you don't want

Michelle Gautrin

How Adobe used social media to fill every seat at symposium

Most marketers in the Asia Pacific have probably heard about the Adobe symposiums in Singapore and Australia. The fact that there were crowds stuck outside the doors and over 700 people joining via the live stream was pretty good publicity unto itself ! The question is, how did they do it? The attendance at the Australian event has tripled in three years, at a time when other marketing events are struggling to get attendees and some are closing down. What are Adobe doing to drive up attendance and create so much buzz?

I spent some time with Michelle Gautrin, the Adobe APAC Senior Social Media Strategist, she provided some insight on using social media to generate buzz, the way the company looks at social media, and provided a few interesting tips  on how to use social for your next event.

The complete interview and transcript is on Social Media Today 

Watch this space for my next interview with Siva Ganeshanandan, APAC Director for Marketing Cloud Adobe – where he’ll be sharing how they engage their customers, reduce sales cycles and drive demand – all through very clever content marketing.

 

Unhappy man at desk

When has my campaign failed?

I recently answered a question on Quora about failure, having run a few startups it was something that struck home. As an entrepreneur you never believe you’re going to fail. Even when the writings on the wall, you still have this vague notion that it can work. When it’s finally buried, that’s when you stop. It’s probably a good trait for a very well funded, highly motivated (almost pathological) serial entrepreneur.

Probably not so much for a regular guy, or a marketer.   We don’t have the luxury of being able to ignore all the signs. That whole concept of failing fast & frequently, the one HBR’s been writing about and the one that Silicon Valley seems to fashionably espouse. That means you need to be able to detect failure and respond to it quickly. You should be planning to fail, or if you prefer, failing gracefully by design.

Knowing when a campaign is going wrong
Detecting potential failure in the future

 

In the absence of a minority-report-future-seeing-psychic, I check my campaigns against metrics and try to ascertain whether we’re on track or not. It’s a questionably better than relying a more arcane-mystic methods, but it’s certainly better than not doing anything at all.

Creating Metrics

When deciding what to track success/failure against, it’s really important to think about your campaign. Personally I believe that (for small businesses) all campaigns should only be focused on client acquisition & lead generation. Which means that all my metrics are funnel metrics (views -> leads -> conversions). If any campaign isn’t performing well, rather than throw more money into it, I’d rather cut it short and redirect the resources to another campaign. There’s an overhead of creating a campaign and running it. Especially for more offline campaigns, but that’s why you should be A/B testing even when you’re doing something as offline as an event. For example:

  1. Handout two variants of flyer with different offers instead of one
  2. Have two different sign-up methods on the flyer and see what works best (QR code & a conventional web link)
  3. Try using electronic sign-up via iPads as well as clipboard sign-ups

If you started any type of marketing campaign, and you don’t have success metrics, you’re doing something wrong. There’s a good chance that you don’t actually have a plan. Check out this guide about setting up a marketing plan. If you don’t have the time to create a marketing strategy, try to think tactically and build metrics on a per campaign basis. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than nothing at all.

Failing to Plan

Action without a plan is not uncommon, it feels better to be doing something rather than nothing. Isn’t some marketing better than no marketing? Yes, you need to do something, even if you don’t have a plan. Just be smart about it, create some metrics, monitor and manage it.  At the very least you’ll have discovered if something works or not. Don’t use planning as an excuse to sit on the fence forever.

Cake or Death

Lego Cake or Death - Eddie Izzard

If things are on-track, and everything’s looking peachy, it’s time for cake! Yay. Don’t rest on your laurels or get too cheeky, start thinking about your next campaign. That’s going to begin from zero, it doesn’t get any head-start from your previous campaigns.

If things aren’t looking good, don’t despair, it’s time for the campaign to die. If you ran it properly you learned something useful that’ll make your next campaign more successful – even if it’s just how to get a consistent 2% improvement in sign-ups through better offers. You should eat the cake anyway, because it’ll make you feel better & it’s silly to waste good cake.

If you don’t have any metrics to measure against, you won’t know whether it’s time for cake or death (or both). It’s probably time to have a cup of tea and watch this YouTube video: