When you see a picture of this structure, most will know exactly where it is. Does your social media profile pic allow people to know exactly what you are about?
Sydney's Opera House is one of the most recognizable structures in the world. Whether you like opera or not, when you see the building, you stop and marvel at the design and beauty. You wouldn't click on this picture if you wanted information on Chinese cooking or if you were interested in connecting with train collectors. The photo gives you enough information to draw you in or cause you to move on. In the world of social media and social networking, your online persona is made up of your name (or nickname), your avatar (or social media profile pic) and then the content that you provide. You may not be recognizable to many in the beginning, but it doesn't take long to create that recognizable online persona.
When I see certain pictures on Facebook or Twitter, I pay more attention to the information than when I see others. There are some that I see and skip right over knowing it is not information that I want or need. (I know, I should just disconnect or “unfriend” them, but that is for another post.)
When developing your online persona, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, is the photo that you choose to use. Selecting a great headshot or photo that really represents YOU is important. In my book, Gettin' Geeky with Twitter, I spend an entire chapter talking about using a great headshot and standing out. I have some below that I feature in the book and I will explain why they stand out in my opinion. But do this simple test: Scan your list of friends on Facebook or look down the stream of Twitter followers, which pictures jump out and capture your attention? Which one's get lost in the stream? Are there some that stop traffic and cause you to dive into their information?
A great social media profile pic or headshot is close up, it shows personality and it becomes YOU to all of US. I used to think that everyone should use a REAL photo of themselves and not their dog or a picture of their book cover, but I have found enough exceptions to this rule to now say, “it depends.” Who are you online? Do you provide information from a dog's point of view? Then a dog-face works for you. Do you use an animated character because this is how you see yourself? Cool. As long as it is not a picture of someone else–like those who post a photo of a celebrity as if that were them, or there have been cases where someone posts a picture of someone more attractive because they don't want the world to see who they really are. This is different than posting a cartoon image or caricature.
I feel that this becomes a form of deception. Too many people create fake accounts with someone else's face, name or both so they can write nasty comments or lead people into false relationships. I guess this is done in face-to-face relationships as well, but it is wrong in either case (in my humble opinion!) I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions on this. Depending on why you are online and engaging in social networking, it is usually important to build authentic relationships even when they are shot-term acquaintances. A friendly or engaging avatar/photo is very helpful.
Here are some of my favorite Twitter profile pics–and the reasons I think they stop traffic:
Both Viveka and Peg have had great close up shots of their smiling faces. Just looking at their profile pics, you would get the feeling that they are friendly and helpful. After reading the content they provide on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and everywhere else, I know that when I see their face pop up it is worth stopping to read their post.
Here's an example of a brand mascot being so recognizable he stops eye traffic. Moz is a brand that provides SEO tools and news that is always a favorite to read.
Lil Pecan is one of my favorite Twitter Critters. First she is hilarious, she makes delicious chocolates (well, she has never actually sent me any, but they sound delicious by her descriptions), she has a great blog and she is always in character. The only irreverent social media guinea pig that sings scat that I know of. Lil Pecan is a great example of someone who connects with people through her character and it just works!
You be your own judge. What calls to you? In our overly crowded information highway, you need to be sure you have a face that stops traffic and then you'd better have some good content for them to read while they're there! Let us know who stops traffic for you.
Now that you've got tips for your profile pic…let's get that bio in shape!
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I'd love to hear from you @GinaSchreck