Missing Photo – I just got through reviewing a slew of LinkedIn invitations, and it was surprising to see that a handful of them didn’t include profile photos. The reason we have profile photos in social media is not about vanity, but about helping people recognize and remember who we are. When I receive an invitation from someone who doesn’t have a photo, I usually think twice about accepting that connection. A profile without a photo tells me that the user is either inexperienced with social media or perhaps is trying to hide something. I also manage a LinkedIn Group for Nonfiction Authors, and when I review requests to join, I tend to pause and evaluate those without photos. When someone without a photo posts to the forum, other members are less likely to engage for the same reasons.
Faceless – Because we all look at social media profile photos in order to recognize each other, distant photos where the face isn’t clear make it difficult for your potential connections to figure out who you are. Your profile avatar is often extremely small, so at least 90% of it should be your smiling face.
Inappropriate – Over on Facebook, users seem to have a lot of fun mixing up their profile photos. But if you’re using social media for professional connections, then you want to avoid anything inappropriate. That includes, but is not limited to, bikini shots, rude gestures, anything someone might not understand or might take out of context, and sales messages (my biggest pet peeve).
Frequent Changes – While it can be fun to mix up your profile photo and change it periodically, be careful that frequent changes don’t impact your brand. This is especially important for authors, speakers, and service-based business professionals. You want your social connections to recognize and get to know you. If your profile photo has your face one week, your kid the next week, and your family dog a week later, it’s likely having a negative impact on your brand. Exceptions: If your photo changes but it still features your face.
Inconsistent – Ideally you should stick with the same profile photo across all of your social networks, which will help your audience recognize you across platforms and help you build a more solid brand.
Outdated – If your photo no longer looks like the person you are today, then a change may be in order. I recently attended a conference in New York where I met many people in person who I had only previously known online. Thanks to profile photos, it was easy to spot my online friends in a crowd. But there have been cases in the past where I met someone who I should have recognized from a photo and didn’t. Keep your photo up to date and you’ll avoid these issues!