The Power of Pictures: 3 First Impressions That Your Best Profile Photos Make

best profile photos

Cornell University recently published what we’ve all been thinking. People judge others based on their online profile picture. Surprised?

You shouldn’t be!

When it comes to profile pictures, this adage rings true. “You will never get a second chance to make a first impression”.

In sales, we know there are only 7 seconds on the phone before someone decides if they love or hate you. You may have even less time when it comes to a profile picture.

In an age where social overlaps with business online, what do your best profile photos say about you?

What Does Your Profile Photo Say About You?

Actual Photo Analysis Results:

Age: 35:
Ethnic: White_Caucasian
Attraction: 7.64 out of 10
Emotion: Happy 
Results: This would be a GOOD choice for a Dating Profile.


Here are 3 first impressions that your best profile photos make.

1. To Selfie or Not to Selfie? That is the Question!

When it comes to selecting the best profile photos many people are stuck between a selfie and a hard place.

Most business people will say selecting less than a professional headshot is bad. And while you don’t want to look too casual, let’s talk about times when selfies are ok.

The key to selecting the best profile photos is choosing ones that are high quality has good lighting and looks natural.

Selfie deniers will say the photos are poor quality, have weird angles and often bad lighting.

If you are guilty of taking selfies like this, do not use them. Seek the help of a professional.

But if you can take selfies with great lighting and angles they can look natural.

Let’s say your professional photo is a floating head on a neutral background. That doesn’t tell the story of who you are.

If you are over-dressed you could come off as stuffy or elite. These qualities are generally not likable.

Sometimes photography comes down to money. If this is an issue, a smartphone tripod and selfie light ring go for around $10 each on Amazon.

There is no replacement for high-quality, natural-looking professional images. But a good selfie doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

Your best profile photos are of you in your natural habitat. They tell a story about you.

2. Managing Your Personal Brand with Your Best Profile Photos

Your profile photo gives off messages that are both open and hidden.

An open message includes elements that are deliberate.

If your profile picture depicts your spouse and kids, that’s a message of family values. If it was taken on your most recent sky-diving adventure, that says you seek an adrenaline rush.

Hidden messages are much more subtle.

Eye contact reads as confidence. Taken from a distance, it signals insecurity. A head tilt can read as lacking independence.

Like most things, your best profile photos are subjective.

They will bring up different responses in people so it’s important to be true to your personal brand. You can’t please everyone.

It’s best to choose a photo you love and dig your heels in. Be consistent. Find a picture that works and stick with it.

3. Are You a Real Character?

When you’ve selected the right photo, don’t be afraid to get creative.
With the help of a thumbnail maker or filter app, you can make your best profile photos stand out in a crowd.

Something simple like a sketch filter can change a drab photo into a fab one.
Thumbnail creators allow you to put your face on many different backgrounds. You can try bright colors to elicit a better response.

Photofunia is a website that imposes your picture on many backgrounds. These range from the pages of a book to a billboard. Even the Picadilly Arcade!

If your personal brand is playful, show it off! What we know is people want to see who you are.

You can take it to a new level by generating a toon as an avatar.

Online avatar makers include Power Puff Girls, Mad Men, and Bitstrips. If it makes sense to do so, play around with these popular avatar generators.

If you are more serious and cartoons are not for you, a Twibbon may help you express your inner advocate. Twibbon avatars include ribbon banners for things like Livestrong and Autism Awareness.

Your Worst Profile Photo: Never Do This One Thing

Always use a picture of yourself, real or avatar. It resonates with people.

If you haven’t already, you will come across someone who ignores this important rule.

You know the type!  They use a picture of a pet or fictional character. Anything other than the actual human on the other side of the screen.

This is a big “no” in the world of social media. Psychologists say it shows neurosis. It can also seem like you’re hiding something.

You know who uses pictures that aren’t their own? Trolls and catfish.

If you want to build trust and rapport with your audience, use your best profile photos. Avoid photos of things that aren’t of you.

Have Fun with the Process

Some people contend there are no more first impressions.

The first thing someone does when they schedule a meeting is Google the person they are meeting with. Even before a first encounter.

Yet, you’re unlikely to find people willing to admit they will judge someone based on a profile photo. But let’s face it, we all do. And the impression is unshakeable.

Expect that you’re being judged and don’t lose out.

Always make sure to select your best profile photos. Choose pictures that speak to your personal brand and are appropriate for all social platforms. Be consistent.

If it seems like a lot of work, relax. Enjoy the process. Because this isn’t about the photo on your profile page.  Is it?

It’s about you.

What feelings do you want people to have when they see you? Do you want them to feel happy? relatable? intimidated? confused?

Do you want them to see a professional? An artist? An advocate? A potential love interest?

You have the power to control that image. It starts with the thumbnail image on top of your profile page. It ends with a new business connection or friend.

The possibilities are endless. But you won’t know unless you try, so get to snapping!

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