If you're an entrepreneur or professional you're undoubtably active on one or several social media sites. The portrait - or avatar - you use there is a very important first impression you create when people first come across you and your company.
So what is a good 'Social Media' portrait? What does it look like and why?
1. Keep in mind that social media portraits are relatively small
If you want to give people a chance to actually see what you look like then please use a close-up. Which means we should see your head and not much more. Maybe even less.
If you're female you may also want to reconsider showing a lot of cleavage. It may not get you the kind of attention you're looking for. Of course this all depends on what line of business you're in.
2. Keep it simple
This isn't the right place for incredibly artistic photography which expresses your innermost feelings. Nor is it a good space for action photos. The image is simply to small and anything you want to express will get lost on the viewer.
3. Looking away may be cool but it's not very inviting
Come into contact with the viewer. Looking outside the frame can get you a beautiful portrait, but the buttom line is that potential clients want to know what kind of person they're dealing with. Be courageous and look them straight into the eyes.
This doesn't mean that you should give them 'the look'. Or present them with a great big fake smile. A friendly, interested, open look is best.
4. Keep your background neutral
If you position yourself in front of tons of stuff the eye gets distracted very easily. So make sure there's no clutter in the background. A blank wall is perfect. And if you want to stand out from the rest go for a neutral grey rather than the omnipresent white.
Of course it can be a great idea to have your portrait taken in your work environment. It can do a great job telling the story of who you are and what you do. By all means use it on your website. Just don't use it as an avatar, because the detail will get totally lost.
5. Please, do NOT use a picture which includes your current significant other
Just don't do it. Especially if you use social media professionally. I'm sure I don't need to explain this. People want to know who YOU are, not who you're dating.
And should you break up then don't use a picture from your past with your ex cut off. Do yourself a favour and get new portraits done. Without any bits of ex.
6. Just be yourself
Honesty works best, even on the internet. Window-dressing won't work in the long run. Eventually people will run into you in real life. And then there will be that awkward moment where you see them think 'right...wow...you look really...different...in real life!'.
Embrace your talents, your style, the way you look, your experience (which may have got you a couple of wrinkles but so what!) and let it all come through in your portrait.