Please don’t take a profile pic like this.

Just because you say “cheese” before you take a photo doesn’t mean you should be cheesy.

Before jumping into content marketing and inbound marketing, I spent a few years as an online community manager and managing AIIM’s social media accounts.

In addition to being a lot of fun as well as extremely informative (there’s a lot of wicked smart people online willing to share their knowledge with you), spending a lot of time on social media can be hilarious.

That brings me to . . . this not so fly for a white guy.*

No alt text provided for this image
The lovely and talented Kate Marsh
mashed up a few images to create Biff.

If you’ve ever seen Back to the Future, you know this isn’t a real person. However, it is based on two profile pics on LinkedIn that we’ve (I wrote this while working with the lovely and talented duo of Kate Marsh and Lindsay Kelley, good times) been killing ourselves laughing about today.

Hair gelled and swept back. Check.

Serious expression on a young face. Check.

Perfectly centered. Ug, c’mon, rule of thirds. Check.

Pointing at the camera. Seriously?!?! Check.

Blue high school background? Oh, yeah. Check.

Guaranteed to make the squirrel-chasers here at Prospect Builder (while this dates the post, this is 100% true) giggle for over an hour. Check.

We don’t focus on social media advice, but I will say this – unless you are OBVIOUSLY being satirical – do NOT have a profile pic with:

  • A background that looks like it came from a high school yearbook photo
  • You pointing at the camera
  • Look like you went to Glamour Shots

 For the record, the guys we were looking at on LinkedIn weren’t going for a LOL and ridicule response to their pics.

Granted, social profile pics feel like a minefield of possible screw ups.

Your profile pic needs to be “native” (that’s the consultant word for “appropriate”) for the social media site it’s on. My pic on LinkedIn is professional (I also realize that it doesn’t conform to some of the best practices, but it’s the best I’ve got at the moment and I still look the same, just more gray).

Twitter profile pic: Casey’s
right eye and Lauren.

My Twitter pic is a selfie (taken with actual film – olde skool baby!) of me and my two daughters when they were younger (way younger, Lauren is 21 and Casey just turned 18, yikes). It’s been my pic since the beginning and since my Twitter is a mix of personal opinion, random thoughts, and mostly work-related material; I’ve never bothered to change it because I like it. My Facebook profile varies – currently it’s a good photo of me and the wife and it’s been me, my family, my pets, a unicorn in a mankini. Like I said, it varies and I don’t use it for work anyway. If I did ever create a business page, I’d take it more seriously.

Anyway, we just wanted to share a laugh with you. Make a serious point that you really can be judged by your profile pic. (At least initially, I never fully judge someone based only on a photo, I’ll wait until they prove themselves to be an idiot in comments or in their writing before completely ignoring them.) And provide a little bit of guidance. For additional guidance about social media pics:

The best tip here: smile (even if you hate your smile).

More psychology than you probably want, but interesting. The best part is Guy Kawasaki’s advice, so scroll to it if you’re in a hurry.

This one has some useful tips for making the entire profile useful for you to set yourself to best advantage.

As with all social media advice, it’s subject to change. If you’re breaking “the rules” but are successful online anyway, keep on keeping on. Sometimes the experts don’t know jack. As noted, earlier, this is an older, slightly updated post. These three blog posts are still valid — and good — advice for profile pics.

And a big shout out to our favorite millennial, the lovely and talented Kate Marsh, for the mashup of the two profile pics into Biff McFly.

*For those of you who’ve forgotten The Offspring tune . . .

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