Social Media Profiles – Tips on Photos and headshots

Wendy Soucie 1987

Wendy Soucie 1987

Social Media Profiles – Tips on photos and headshots

When was the last time you really looked at the picture you are using on your social media profiles?  Does it give the perception you hope for?
I had been using a photo taken for a press release that was twenty years old.  It was good in its time and I looked younger, but it was in black and white and by others standards, a bit dated. After putting up with digs by friends when I used it for a quarterly community voice column I was writing, I started to think maybe I should redo.  When I started to get very engaged in social media I knew it was time.

Pictures on social media profiles are very important.

1.  It builds on consistency across profiles and messages
2.  People can see exactly what you look like
3.  If you have a common name, you can be better identified
4.   It feels more trustworthy

Are you using an old picture or another type of avatar?

Getting the picture done right is worth a little extra time, attention to detail and in many some cases may be worth having a professional get a series for catching you in various poses and attire.  Amy Lynn Schereck recently presented at the Social Media Breakfast – Madison and talked about copyright, attire, makeup, jewelry, and posing.    I am a firm believer in using a plain, old, real picture of you.  Others feel there is more flexibility in using transformed pictures or cartoons.  Specific tips on what to wear and how to take your own pictures for social media profiles is covered well at Lisa Stewart – Creative Goddess.

Do I use casual or professional photo?

Wendy Running

Wendy Running on the Ice Age Trail – Bill Beers Photo Credit

Early on when I started using social media sites, I tried to keep some strictly personal and others professional.  I tried using a few of my own outdoor pictures as profiles on the personal sites. I thought I should have a different look on different social  media sites.  So I tried a few casual shots for profiles.
It ended up being a mashup of looks across all my sites.

As I started to grow my network, I connected with professional contacts more deeply and they wanted to connect with me on sites they were more active on, such as Facebook, Slideshare and even Youtube. The separation between business and social began to blur.

None of us can afford to be perceived as just business or just social.  If your potential clients only connect with you on Facebook and non of your professional and business interest are evident then they will only think of you from a social perspective.  The same occurs on places like LinkedIn – your connection may only see and experience you as a serious business person only talking about the latest award, closed deal, business related activity.  You need to mix up these spaces with your personality.

I am both social and professional

I found it difficult to only be social / casual on some sites while trying to maintain strict professional comments and business related ideas on others.  I also realized that I not singularly one or the other.  If I am being authentic and showing people who I am, I have a lot of fun in life, take the work I do seriously and with great passion but I try not to take myself too seriously and love to find the humor in what I do. Laughing is not an option in life – it’s a requirement.  So I decided to move to one picture for all my profiles.  The benefit of this was
•    Consistency across profiles
•    People will recognize me (those in my network see me much more often in business attire)

Besides, I can add other pictures to Facebook, Flicker and Picassa to show other sides of what I do.

Quick but Professional

Wendy's quick head shot in a restaurant lobby

Wendy Soucie – Amy Lynn Schereck Photo Credit

The next photo was done quickly, no special lighting, no real time to prepare or think about what I was wearing and perception. I happened to be at the same restaurant for a meeting as my friend Amy Lynn Schereck and she was kind enough to take a current shot, doing an outstanding job in the lobby with window light.

The negatives to this picture were the dark back ground and my dark hair, but I had a blazer on and simple jewelry so it was useful for my immediate needs.

Headshot done right

The most recent update was also done by Amy Lynn Schereck in a studio with controlled lighting, non seasonal attire, simple and limited jewelry and a dark (black) suit coat. It is simple, professional and works across all my profiles and business needs.  This matches the way I dress every day for business so I feel it reflects me.

Wendy Soucie 10-09

Wendy Soucie 10-09 Amy Lynn Schereck Photo Credit

Since LinkedIn doesn’t let you add multiple pictures my network can see the other facets of my life by the various applications and writing I do there.  Examples of this are my volunteer activities, comments I write, my NetworkedMindshare blog link, and I usually talk about a week end activity to see who else has a similar interest.

What do you do if you are not a suit and tie person?

If you have jobs, occupations or business that you would never wear a suit for –  don’t.  Amy was nice enough to give me permission to use a few examples of people in other occupations.

A chef and restaurant owner

 A chef and restaurant owner

Amy Lynn Schereck Photo Credit
Gary Nski, Photographer with tools of his trade.
Amy Lynn Schereck Photo Credits
Amy Lynn Schereck Photo Credit

Before and After

For someone interested in doing a complete redo with a professional sitting and selected attire, consider Dabney Porte . She has used several pictures on her social media sites that tie in nicely with her facebook and twitter pages.  Dabney lives in Baltimore, but I have met her in person and she is as lively and vivacious as her pictures convey.  She has a sassy but professional concern about her clients and they absolutely love her attitude and the help she provides. I have connected with her on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

dabneynew

New Dabney Porte picture
Old Dabney Porte Picture -

Old Dabney Porte Picture –

I think her pictures reflect her style and her personality!
Take a look at your profile pictures.  Do yours do the same?



  1. Quick StarQuick Star10-22-2009

    you should change the settings of your commenting system so that anyone can post a comment even if they don't have a google account or any accounts provided in the dropbox.

  2. Axel SchultzeAxel Schultze10-22-2009

    Good point @Quick Star we just did.
    @AxelS

  3. Mike DubrallMike Dubrall02-23-2010

    The longer I work with social media, the more I understand how important a good picture can be for initiating dialogue. When we collect photos of students in our classes and put them all together on one slide, it’s easy to see which people spent time creating a professional headshot and which ones used a camera phone to just get something up. Time to take a step back and re-evaluate. Spend the money with a professional. Look your best. (Now I have to put my money where my mouth is! Anyone know a good photographer?)

  4. I have a casual picture in my Linkedin account. I have not given much thought to the importance of the picture until now. I am starting to realize the importance of social media and the reason I am taking this course. I am thinking of getting a professional picture for both FB and Linkedin.

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