Image is everything – show your best side

Image is everything – show your best side

Your social media profile picture says a lot about you. My son’s school photograph came home this week.  Now, if we set aside the fact that I’d forgotten to make sure he’d washed and brushed his hair, it struck me that things had changed a lot since my day.  No more standing on school benches with the tallest at the back, now they are all arms folded, hands on each other’s shoulders like the final page of a Next catalogue.

Commercial photography has come a long way since the swirly backgrounds, and your social media profile picture can take a lot of credit (or blame) for that.  Now our photographs are taken and seen more than every before. There is also a far great need for general business photography.  Those Facebook feeds are not going to fill themselves.

Personally, I can’t abide having my photo taken. I do not own a Selfie Stick. I don’t generally take a lot of photos of myself if I can help it but, when it comes to your social media profile, needs must.

Of the hundreds of businesses I come across, some do this very well, and some … well let’s just say not so much.  So here are my top 10 tips for cracking social media photography.

Part One Profile Photos

I spend a lot of time on Twitter and LinkedIn and see all manner of photos – some of them jaw droppingly bad.  If it’s a personal Twitter account, arguably do what you like.  However, if you’re using LinkedIn or Tweeting on behalf of your business, your social media profile picture matters. This is your professional image at stake, so please give it the attention it deserves.

Here are my dos and don’ts.

  1. Decide who you want to be? This should be the first thing on your marketing list.  What do you want to look like? What do you want prospective clients to think?  Your social media profile picture is your first chance to make an impression.  Don’t blow it.
  2. At least have a photo. Let’s start with the basics but I’m always amazed by the number of eggs I see knocking around Twitter or grey sillhouettes on LinkedIn.  How lazy are you exactly?
  3. Be the star and for goodness sake don’t have anyone else in the photo.  I have seen LinkedIn profiles where the person is not only standing in a group, but he’s not even in the middle of the photo!
  4. Look like you’re at work. In the pub? At a party?On a beach?  Just no.  Are you wearing the clothes you would normally wear to work?  Good start.  Remember, this is not Tinder.
  5. This is not your wedding. Following on from point 3 really but it deserves special mention.  Do you wear a tiara to work?  Thought not.  I get it, people thing they need a professional photo and that’s the only one they have.
  6. You don’t have to be boring. Professional doesn’t necessarily mean dull.  Think about location, whether you want to be looking at the camera or not?  Is there something that would reflect what you do, Are there tools of the trade you could use in the background to give people a better impression of what you do.
  7. Are you ready for your close up?  Your Social Media Profile Picture comes up very small so you really need to be recognisable in a tiny size.  LinkedIn help you out by giving you a preview of how you look so make sure you pay attention. Have a look at Twitter on a mobile and see how easy you are to spot mid-scroll.
  8.  You are not your company This is a slightly controversial one, as many people use a company logo on Twitter.  Sometimes this is appropriate but, on the whole, I think not. Twitter is about conversation and  I think people like to know who they’re talking to. If there is a corporate account and you have your own personal one, that’s slightly different. On LinkedIn, this is your personal profile, not your company page, and it’s worth remembering that. This also makes networking events an absolute dream.
  9. Be honest about your age Is this photo from a work party 9 years ago? Really?  You do need to bear at least a passing resemblance to your photo.  Maybe a little more make up or without your glasses, but if you’ve radically altered your appearance, had a drastic hair cut/colour or even just got older, change it.  If not, still aim to change it every couple of years or so.
  10. Don’t be afraid to call in the professionals I say this time and time again.  You wouldn’t be happy using any old picture on your printed materials or exhibition stands would you?  So don’t do it on social media. There’s a time and a place for impromptu snaps but your profile pic is not it.  There are lots of photographers who will do this for a relatively small fee so make the most of it.

To whip you all into shape, I’ve teamed up with Annie Johnston Photography who’ll be coming along to my next 4 workshops.  She’ll be on hand to take your social media profile picture for you to use wherever you choose.  It will take around 10 to 15 minutes and can be fitted in easily either during or after the workshop.

If you want to grab a space on either Twitter, Facebook Advertising, LinkedIn or my Introduction to Social Media, click here.

Coming soon – Taking photos to use in your newsfeed.