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What Your Social Profiles Should Say About You

It’s funny but a lot of people don’t think about their social profiles until they’re looking for a new job or new business situation. I’d like to suggest that you look at your social profiles as a key starting point in building a stronger digital footprint.

I know this sounds almost like remedial advice these days, so consider it a nice reminder of something you must certainly already know.

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Social media profiles are part social proof, part brochure, and part SEO. So, why not treat them as the personal branding asset they can be.

Obviously, if you have not done so you certainly must claim a personal profile on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter. Again, remedial advice perhaps, but I’m still running across people who don’t know why they would do this. The simple truth is that it’s branding real estate as much as it’s a new platform for engagement.

If you have done this consider adding Pinterest, Instagram, Reddit and Quora as well.

You might also consider employing a service such a KnowEm, which for a fee will claim your profile on a hundred or more social networks.

In addition, you can submit your personal name to the service BrandYourself to build a personal branding page and receive tips on how to get the profiles that actually represent you (not someone else with your name) to have a better chance of showing up on page one for searches.

A good social profile starts with a good photo.

Don’t settle for that phone “selfy” bounce shot off the mirror or the “look at how arty I can be” shot. (Okay, maybe those represent your brand accurately, but I’m guessing you’re a minority.)

Get a series of professional shots done. It doesn’t have to be the stiff studio shot either – add some character, get some outside shots, experiment with industrial backdrops – just make sure it’s well lit and composed.

The dating industry has lots of data on the impact of a profile picture when it comes to first impressions and, while you may not be looking for a mate, it can offer some instruction on best practices for profile pictures.

The dating site OK Cupid cataloged over 7,000 profile shots and correlated these profiles with amount of contacts received. While they discovered some obvious dos and don’ts in profile images, they also discovered that a simple change in facial attitude correlated with as much as a 30% increase in contacts. (Want to really test this take the My Best Face test)

Here are the basic findings of the study:

For Women: A flirty attitude away from the camera was the worse performing in terms of new contacts. While 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. A flirty attitude for men is a definite no.

Again, dating and whatever it is you’re selling aren’t that closely related – or are they?

You may also want to check out some personal brand profile pages from services like Vizify and About.me that allow you to build your own pages drawing from your social media participation and images you already have online. These sites can also aid your overall SEO optimization by giving you yet another piece of real estate with your branding elements and messages.

Resist the urge to cut and paste your resume

Unless you’ve created a really engaging resume – experience tells me not so much – then don’t turn your profile pages into the same boring data that make up most resumes.

Tell stories instead – focus on where you’ve been, what experience you’ve gained, what skills you’ve mastered and why. Write in first person (I believe not your name believes) and use an active and expressive tone.

Create a talking logo and use it as the subheading for your profile. Make sure you talk about your passions, even those outside of your obvious professional requirements. If you’ve climbed Mt Everest I want to know that.

Add a few highly relevant quotes from others such as customers, partners and employers.

And by all means create lots of links to relevant pages on your website, useful content you’ve created and all the other social networks you participate in.

You may also find that this style of personal profile building makes for a better About Us type page on your own site too. Here’s an example of one of my favorite About Us profile pages from leather goods maker Ryan Barr

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