The research and science behind finding your best profile picture

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I’ve written about profile pictures before but this post from by Kevan Lee on Buffer is OUTSTANDING. I’ve pulled out highlights but recommend you read the full article. Link here. And also check out buffer – it is one of the most useful social media tools around (I follow them on twitter).

Read below for a quick summary on what makes you look likable, competent and influential. Also, data on profile pic vs. bio (text is less than 10% of what people think of you!!).

How to appear likable, competent, and influential:

PhotoFeeler, a neat tool that lets you get feedback on your profile pictures via feedback from actual people who vote on your picture, shared their learnings from over 60,000 ratings of competence, likability, and influence that were left on photos submitted to the PhotoFeeler app.

Here’s a quick overview of what they learned:

  • Don’t block your eyes. Sunglasses drop likeability score, and hair, glare, and shadows drop competence and influence.
  • Define your jawline. A shadow line that outlines the jaw all the way around helps with likability, competence, and influence.
  • Show your teeth when you smile. The best smile, according to PhotoFeeler, is a smile with teeth. This leads to gains across the board in likability (nearly twice that of a closed-mouth smile), competence, and influence.
  • Try formal dress. Dark-colored suits and light-colored buttondowns (with ties, for men) had the greatest effect on competency and influence out of all other factors.
  • Head and shoulders (or head to waist). Close-ups on just headshots brought scores down, as did full body shots.
  • Try a squinch. A squinch is a slight squint. The idea behind it is that wide eyes look fearful, vulnerable, and uncertain. Slightly squinted eyes may come across as comfortable and confident. PhotoFeeler found that squinching eyes has an increase across the board in competence, likability, and influence.

(The photo on the left is the normal, wide-eyed headshot. The one on the right is a squinch.)

peter-hurleys-squinch

Which matters more: Profile pic or bio?

Dating website OkCupid is well-known for its data analysis. Last year, they released some interesting details on the influence of profile pictures compared to text descriptions.

Their takeaway:  Essentially, the text is less than 10% of what people think of you.

Guy Kawasaki’s 4 keys to profile pictures:

  1. Faces only. No family, friends, dogs, logos, etc.
  2. Asymmetrical. Use the Rule of Thirds to create your profile picture
  3. Face the light. The source of light should come in front of you.
  4. At least 600 pixels wide. There are varying shapes and sizes of profile pictures on social media. A 600-pixel image will look great no matter where it’s viewed.

 

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