Photos are a very personal reflection, pun intended.
Some of my Facebook friends change their profiles daily. I don’t. I have the same profile photo on Facebook for years. It reminds me of that wonderful trip to Prague with my daughter in 2009. My LinkedIn photo is a professional photo taken a few years ago too. I like both photos. But what do these photos say about me?
There is some science behind what makes a great social media profile. I found some interesting articles leading to PhotoFeeler. Evidently there is a principal called self-enhancement bias, the idea that we look at our world through our own personal rose colored glasses that twists what we see into something we want to see. According to an interesting article, “3 Scientific Reasons You Choose the Wrong Profile Photos”, we imagine that we are perfectly objective but other people are not because our own clear judgment is an illusion.
The three reasons we choose the wrong profile photo are:
- We apply our own background information to the photo but other people don’t have the same information. They judge a photo on different standards.
- We’ve spent our entire lives looking in mirrors. We see the mirror image, not the actual image. Other people might like the actual image better but it looks like of funny to us.
- We apply feelings to our own photos. Other people don’t see the feelings or the flaws that we see. Other people just see the photo.
PhotoFeeler offers a way around our own personal bias. You get unbiased feedback from members who vote on whether your photo does what you intend it to do. For LinkedIn, you want your photo to show you as competent, likable and influence. You might want something else for a Facebook and Twitter profile photo.
So I decided to sign up! I submitted a general business photo that I like and my professional LinkedIn profile photo to be rated to see whether a professional photo makes a difference.
I had to earn the credits to get other people to evaluate my photos. It takes a minimum of 10 credits to get 10 people to vote on each of your photos. You earn credit by voting on other people’s photos. I elected to vote on business photos but you can vote on social photos and dating photos too.
Getting credits is easy and demonstrates how other people will vote on your photo. I looked at the photo that flashed on my screen and simply clicked on whether the photo portrayed the person as competent, likable and influential on a four point scale. It takes just a few minutes of clicking to rack up enough points to launch my own evaluations.
I launched my evaluation then I went to get a cup of coffee. When I came back to my computer I already had some results.
Interesting. Both photos tested positively (it is possible to get a negative result!) but the professional photo tested higher on all three points. Both photos show about the same level of Likeability. PhotoFeeler says that is because I show teeth when I smile which is more open and friendly. But check out the big differences in Competence and Influence from the professional photo! Wow, that is a big difference!
This is what I learned from this exercise:
- Use a professional photographer to get an image that viewers will find appealing. It is worth every penny.
- Have an idea of what impression you want to leave. Know what brand you represent. Then get a profile photo that supports your brand.
- There is always something to learn on the Internet if you open your eyes and look around.