Social Media Profile Photos – Why You Need One

Putting your best face forward: Your profile picture

In the media relations world we are always working with clients to enhance their images and grow their brands.  Today over a billion people are online using social media, blogs and websites.  All of these sites allow users to publish images of themselves and others.  Image is everything and it starts with the photos of yourself that you use online.  A recent Wall Street Journal article citing LinkedIn research showed that LinkedIn profiles are seven times more likely to be viewed if they have a photo than those that do not have one.

It is clear that profile photos get attention.  A Pixable analysis of 500,000 Facebook profile pics showed that the average shot receives 3 likes and 2 comments.  In addition, EyeTrackShop, a startup that runs eye-tracking studies for advertisers, conducted a study of popular social networks that recorded participant’s eye movements to see what they looked at on each page and in what order.  The study found that profile photos attracted the most attention on Klout, Facebook and StumbleUpon.

For many people being online is an integral part of their social lives as well as their professional lives.  Image matters in both of these worlds.  Your profile picture should project a positive image of you.  When promoting any brand or product a quality photo is important.  Brand recognition is achieved when images and logos are used repeatedly in different context.

Your profile photo is used to project who you are.  This image is one of the most important building blocks of any social media profile or online personal branding effort.  The profile picture is frequently the first image people see when they look at your profile or search for you online.  Your photo is an integral part of the first impression you make to people in the cyber world.  Your online photo is your identity it allows people to recognize you (cyber world and later in the real world), and fortunately or unfortunately provides people with their first opportunity to make judgments about who your are and your professionalism or lack thereof.  Image and appearance matter now more than ever.

On the most basic level, you must have a profile photo on each of your accounts.  Without a picture you have no identity.  From a business relationship-building perspective not having a photo limits the ability to build trust between parties online.

Social media experts, marketers and recruiters agree that not having a profile picture is self-defeating.  People are less likely to connect to you if you do not have a photo because they: (1) are not sure if you are the right person (who they may know in the real world); (2) think you are a newbie and not ready or worthy to connect to; (3) question your commitment, (an incomplete profile may mean that you will not or do not check your social media accounts often); and (4) are not sure if they can trust you. Additional reasons why you should have a photo on LinkedIn are included in this article from Executive Career Brand.  Lack of having a photo on LinkedIn prevents the user from reaching 100 percent of their profile. This is detrimental when it comes to searches of profiles.

Image recommendations if you use social media for business or personal branding

  1. Use your own photo – Don’t use photos of celebrities or others in your place.
  2. Use a quality image (not overly “photo shopped” or enhanced).
  3. Crop the image to allow people to see your head and part of your neck and shoulders.  Anything more than your “headshot” makes the profile image appear small and hard to see.  Use other images of yourself in photo galleries or other places on your sites.
  4. Use an updated photo (within the past few years).  It’s ok to change your photo.  When images are changed it shows up in your stream or wall.  The advantage to this is people may want to see your new image and visit your page. The disadvantage is that people will not recognize your new image.
  5. No sunglasses – People are less likely to trust you if they can’t see your eyes.
  6. Funny image – A humorous image can be used, but remember you have to live with this image and the possibility of it being reused or shared by others.
  7. If you use a cartoon or other image it should be recognizable and part of your overall branding and marketing.

From a business perspective your online profile image should help you improve your networking.  People should be able to recognize you in person from the image that they see online.  How great is it when people you have never met know who you are because of the social networking you have done?   This alone makes having the right image online exceedingly valuable.


Executive Career Brand: Does My LinkedIn profile really need a photo?

Wall Street Journal article citing LinkedIn research

Pixable analysis of 500,000 Facebook profile pics


Professional Spotlight: Jeff Pulver

The Social Media Valley, or Long Island can certainly claim some bragging rights with this professional. Jeff Pulver has not only been a contributor to the Digital Age, but a visionary leader in communications (or also the communication tools of Social Media) and specifically the power it has given to people. Jeff’s professional contributions would make him seem like a unreachable giant, but I can tell you first hand that he is all about people. Rarely do you find someone so profound that is down to earth, let alone so approachable that he will greats you in casual clothes with a warm smile and a hand out.

Jeff’s History

Growing up in Kings Point, New York, Jeff Pulver got involved with computers when he was 17.  Later, while working at his first job, an accounting firm, he developed and founded Spreadsheet Solutions Corp. an add-on to Microsoft Excel and Lotus 1-2-3, which he wrote. He also invented the CellSocket – a device which allows receiving and making cell phone calls through land lines.

Becoming interested in the possibilities of Internet Phone, a field that was unregulated at the time, Jeff Pulver put his money where his mouth is and in 1995 started a company that will go on to become Vonage, the biggest VoIP provider. He stayed as minority shareholder and member of the board until 2002. 

Jeff was the head writer of what is called “Pulver Order” about internet communication, which had become the basis for the 2004 FCC ruling regarding Internet Protocol (IP) communications.  Helping shape the VoIP landscape, Jeff set his sights on other implementations of internet communication.

In a 2006 Wall Street Journal profile he talked about Internet Video. “The same DNA that disrupted the telecom industry is well on its way to totally revolutionizing the way the TV, film, and broadcast industry is going to be.” He says in the article.

Seeing himself as an agent of change, he continued in The Wall Street Journal article, his mission is to identify the next big thing in technology.

Jeff Pulver & Basil Puglisi

Jeff Pulver proved himself right when a few years later the “Arab Spring” came to life, facilitated by social media.

For years now, Jeff Pulver organizes and hosts the #140Conf in different cities around the world. In those conferences he supplies the platform and invites speakers for short presentations and discussions about the impact of the internet on different aspects of our lives; on education, media, news, and business.  He calls those conferences “The State of NOW”.

“We are living through what is a truly social revolution.” He says in an interview from a conference in Tel Aviv, Israel on November 7, 2011. “What happens when you are living in a world where hundreds of millions of people can discover each other and communicate directly? What do people feel when they connect, engage and every voice matters? People discover that they can stand up and affect a change without really knowing that they are doing it.”

Beside the conferences, Jeff Pulver invests in start-ups: Bloom Studio, BloggersBase, SemantiNet and Seesmic among others. He lives in New York with his wife and twin boys.

Here is another Great VIdeo recordning from UStream – 140Conf NYC

The Next 140Conf in NYC is June 19 – 20



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