Social media is all about being social, right? However, as in many instances in life, there is a time and place for everything. Some photos are best left out social media profiles, and some photos should never be used as an avatar. Which became evidently clear today as I was browsing LinkedIn.
LinkedIn proclaims to have “50 million+ members in their professional network” which encourages users to “manage (their) professional identity.” The thing is, looking at many of the photos on LinkedIn, I am not certain some folks are doing that. That could certainly affect their professional appearance, but may also become a challenge for the company they work for. A picture says a thousand words, so how are your employees presenting themselves, and your company?
If I were giving advice to someone new to LinkedIn, I would suggest that their profile picture represent how they might look and dress for a first interview. Careful consideration in choosing a photo should be taken. Individuals might consider:
- Choosing a recent photo. There is nothing worse that an outdated photo, especially a Senior Portrait, or photos from your youth. Unless of course you are a senior in high school and/or a kid are “especially young”, in which case I wonder if LinkedIn the best social network for you? And, what are your reasons for wanting a profile?
- Posting a cartoon character, symbol, line art or other graphic as your avatar might seem too juvenile and should be avoided. One caveat – PWB actually has one of our very talented graphic designers create a “cartoonized” avatar for each employee. But hey it’s a branding choice, which I’ll mention later!
- Photos of a single subject are best, as they clearly represent a single individual instead of trying to figure out who in the photograph has the LinkedIn profile.
- Your LinkedIn photo should be clear and fairly closely cropped to the face – At the very least a profile picture should be a “bust” or head, neck and shoulders shot.
- Feathers, glitter, props and overly posed photos should not be included, unless of course you are a professional Glamour Shots model.
- It’s a good idea to have the individual in the photo looking at the camera straight-on as opposed to a profile picture. I would however avoid having a photo look like a prison mug hot, so smiles are highly encouraged!
- And technically speaking, LinkedIn profile photos should be formatted as a square image, either a JPG, GIF or PNG file, and no larger than 4 MB.
Take for example, how you might expect a professional golfer to look. A golfer showing up at a tournament wearing jeans and a ratty tee would be looked at differently than the golfer sporting a certain green jacket or at least one that is wearing a coordinated golf ensemble. Now consider the LinkedIn profile photos of your employees. Do the photos they use reflect positively on your company?
Now, I am not suggesting that a “photo” dictator is chosen for your company. No one necessarily needs to direct what your employees say and do, however policing your own brand is a smart idea. How would you like your company to be seen on LinkedIn? Is there anything that can be done to create a stronger, more professional company image? There sure is!
When I was a blogging contributor for a local publication, I was asked to come into the office for a “photo shoot”. The photo that was produced was then used for my by-line. Hiring a photographer afforded the company that I was representing a certain amount of conformity and also controlled their brand.
Depending on what your company does may allow for a certain leniency toward what’s “appropriate” (i.e. Like PWB using branded cartoon avatars) for profile photos. I wouldn’t suggest an owner of a tattoo parlor identify themselves as an individual in a business suit, unless it made sense to do so. In fact showing off some of their body art may be appropriate. Managing photos that represent your company is food for thought and may offer additional benefits. Professional photos put a polished look on a company, and using these photos for marketing, directory listings, press releases or on your company website may be added benefits.
Have you ever considered how your brand ambassadors are representing you on LinkedIn? You should.