It’s not something I had looked at in depth but always up for a challenge I had a look to see what I could find.
Now I don’t have the resources to run any research myself so I had a dig around online. There is quite a lot of discussion on profile pictures or photos and their effects.
Most though was subjective, fact and hard data was more difficult to find.
Hubspot was the first place I came across useful information. According to a study they carried out on over 9 million Twitter accounts they found that those with profile pictures had an average of over 250 followers. Those accounts without profile pictures averaged just 25 followers.
Now there is some tempering to be done to this data, in that a lot of abandoned accounts will have less followers and therefore lack a profile photo. Whilst regularly updated accounts, more proactively used, will have a tendency to have a profile photo.
Though it makes sense that if you are taking your presence online seriously you will want to represent it professionally which will nearly always mean with a custom image of some sort. Which brings us to the question what type of image should be?
Company logo or personal photo?
I couldn’t find any hard stats but general opinion seems to be that if the account is about your company or brand then use a company logo. If it is about you, professionally or personally then use a photo of you.
Dating sites may hold the answer
As with many new market sectors on the Internet we often have to look at more long standing sectors for insights into what does and doesn’t work well. Social Media is too young an industry to draw many conclusions from, the dating industry though, is not only a lot older but relies an enormous amount on imagery for it’s clients success.
In a survey by DatePro, unsurprisingly 61% of those asked said that the profile image was the main part of a persons profile they looked at.
As it was a dating site the research was focused on men’s reaction to women’s profile photos and vice versa. The reaction by both sexes differed quite significantly.
New contacts gained in a month
For Women: A flirty attitude away from the camera was the worse performing in terms of new monthly contacts. Whilst a flirty attitude or a smiling face toward the camera produced the best results.
For Men: A non-smiling, facing away from the camera profile picture producing more contacts by a long way. A flirty attitude for men is a definite no.
Showing your face not a requirement
I was very surprised at this result, as were those who produced the survey and they performed even deeper research to ensure the results were correct.
Subject Matter: Whether you show your face or not produced very similar results. As long as the resulting photo was intriguing there was little difference in numbers of new contacts an account gained on a monthly basis.
So if you want to attract more followers on Twitter, fans on Facebook or connections on LinkedIn, “smile for the birdy” ladies, gents please look away and if you’re camera shy, it may not matter much!
Would love to here your views on this in the comments below.