Social media is a funny thing, and your social media appearance, be it with a photograph, what you write or share, is important. Think of it as your first introduction, you want to make a good impression. Furthermore, failing to represent yourself in the right context could lead to reputational damage and loss of potential customers.
We always need to remember that social media allows us to communicate with the entire world in a few keystrokes and clicks or to destroy our reputation in the same way, just as fast.
To make social media your friend in the business, the first thing to understand is that it may be the first contact a potential customer may have, in the business language this is often referred to as a “touch point”.
It may be hard to think that the way you appear as an individual on social media in that business may affect the decisions made by a potential customer. Don’t fool yourself; it does.
Look at the three photos of me above and tell me which one you would hire based on the photographs?
I do not doubt as to your immediate answer, the guy on the right. Clean shaved, professional looks, smiling and definitively made an effort to introduce himself.
The big bonus is that a photograph done like this makes you instantaneously recognisable, introductions in meetings or interviews are easier.
I wanted to portray a professional but approachable look by the time you see me you know me a little better with one photograph.
Had I used one of the first two photos, which look like and are snapshots, you would instantaneously think that I have a lack of professionalism and you would probably think I am lazy or disrespectful. After all, I look like a gangster in the first photo and I appear childish in the second. I would not blame you if you did not want to hire me, I would not even interview these 2 first characters.
Other mistakes to avoid are:
- No photographs
- Photographs of your kids instead of your own
- Photographs of your pets instead of your own
- Some random photos, unrelated to you
All of the above will create some kind of misconceptions about you, the last thing you want.
The crux of the matter is, first impressions are essential for you as much as it is for your business.
By the way, each of these is on Facebook, so why can’t you find the first two? They are both marked friends only.
A tip about posting on social media
Here is a little advice, post everything that is not business related to friends only. Furthermore, with a few exceptions, if you have not met in person or feel you cannot trust them, do not accept a friend request.
As for social media that do not have friends only facilities such as Twitter, do not post private matters, also stay away from politics and other potentially reputation-damaging subjects.
Interesting fact, Facebook will show your followers; these are the people that have either opted to follow you or those you have declined as friends, to post to those people as well as the friends, make your post public.
To see your followers on Facebook, go to your profile, click on friends and sometimes in “More”, the amount and details of your followers will be there.
Try posting on exciting and relevant topics to your followers and friends; this will incentivise others to follow you.
Leverage social media to boost your business, don’t hesitate to re-share and like your businesses posts, it can only show your dedication to it.
Is it essential to have a professional portrait photographer do your social media profile photo?
The short answer is a resounding yes.
But before we start discussing the benefits to using a professional photographer you may want to understand the kind of photograph you will want.
Business profiles vs Professional headshots
There are 2 major types of portraits you need to know about, Business Profile and Professional Headshots.
The Business Profile portrait is more environment based and contains more of your body, this means that both your clothing and your body language will be visible. This kind of portrait may seem un-personal by many though it has an important place in brochures and books, this type of portrait also allows for writing in the “empty” or “white” space. On a website, it will be used in the same manner by using the white space. Business Profile portraits also allow you to identify the role or profession of the person immediately.
The Professional Headshot is more intimate and better to use as a profile image on your website, social media or a business card. People find it easier to identify and relate to you with this kind of photography. It is also one of the many reasons for its use in driver’s licences, identity documents and passports. The difference here is that you can smile and ware your hair any way you wish, in short look your best. It must make yourself easily identifiable but also approachable.
A professional photographer will coach you towards all of your goals, most will even send you a letter on how to get prepared for the shoot, they will get you to relax and look your best. One thing that I would also not discount in a shoot of that nature is the possibility to have a makeup artist with photography setup experience and this applies to both men and women. An experienced makeup artist will know the value of using the correct makeup for flashes and make you look good. The photographer’s job does not finish after the shot, almost all professional photographers I know will “process” the photos to make you look even better.
What should you expect from your photographer and shoot? At least one great shot, most photographers will allow you to choose from a selection of unprocessed photos. Choose wisely, choose the one you are comfortable with, choose the one that feels like you.
Lastly, use that photo on all social platforms, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest and any others that you may use. Also, put it on your website in a meet the team section or better yet on the front page with the rest of your team. It allows you to humanise yourself and be instantly recognisable.