profile picture science

Use your profile picture to trick people into thinking you’re influential

May 27, 2014

profile picture science

The rules of the road

According to science (or at least an extensive study by PhotoFeeler), you should probably hate my guts based on my profile picture on Twitter. You see, by examining over 800 social media profile pictures and 60,000 ratings of competence, likability, and influence, profile pictures actually matter.

That alone is not news, we’ve always had “rules” (which again, I violate at will) that dictate how people will connect with you based on their first impression of your profile picture, but what is news is that specifically, influence, competence, and likability can be measured based on how you present yourself online.

To save you some time, I’ll tell you that the key takeaways are that if you want people to think you’re influential, squint your eyes a little bit (like you’re in your happy place, not like you lost your glasses), show your teeth when you smile (but not too much), put on a suit, and don’t jack up the saturation levels on your picture.

In other words, do the opposite of everything I do (I don’t smile, I don’t show my teeth, I’m in a party dress, I’m holding a beer, the photo is ultra saturated, and I look like an earthworm with multiple chins), because I’m being silly in my picture. For me, and for my personality, it works – I have more than one follower, but for a professional like yourself, let’s take a look at the science that will help convince people that you’re not as insane as I am:

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perfect profile photo

Whether you’re looking to instill confidence in consumers and offer a positive first impression, or trying to trick people into thinking you’re influential, the above graphic gives you the playbook. I suspect we’ll see a lot of squinting in profile pictures by the end of the week, what do you think?

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Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius and sister news outlet, The Real Daily, and has been named in the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders several times, co-authored a book, founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.


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