The first impression is the last impression. This adage is backed by a lot of research into people’s assessments of others. According to Princeton University psychology professor Alexander Todorov, people can form a first impression from a person’s face in as little as 30 to 40 milliseconds.
With such a short time, you must optimize your Instagram profile picture to represent who you are and what your account is all about. Whether you use the application for business or for fun, choosing the right photo can help you attract more followers and tap into the application’s full potential. So the next time you are choosing a profile picture, keep these handy tips in mind.
Use a brand logo or a headshot
Using your logo as a profile picture on Instagram can help you increase your brand recognition and account’s credibility. If you are a new, local or small business, you show prospective customers you are a legitimate operation. Meanwhile, if you are a well-known brand, using your logo as a profile picture will help you avoid users’ confusion as to whether or not your account is the official one for your business.
On the other hand, if you are an influencer, life coach, or a freelancer, it’s best to use a headshot as your Instagram profile picture. You can also include a prop if you like, say a lipstick if you are a makeup artist or a camera if you are a photographer.
Faces are powerful channels of nonverbal communication, providing clues in a variety of contexts, such as emotions, attractiveness, identity, and competence. Evaluating over a million images on Instagram, scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Yahoo Lab have found that photos with faces generate 38% more likes and 32% more comments.
Show your eyes and smile
Of course, not all headshots are the same. Mind the message you are sending through the picture and make sure you show your eyes to appear more confident and trustworthy. You can also boost your influence and sympathy with your visitor by smiling. For an optimal chance of making a good impression, show your teeth, but without smiling too wide.
Pay attention to the background
While often neglected, the background of your Instagram profile picture holds a lot of importance. A bright color may help you stand out from the crowd but distract viewers from the main focus — you. To avoid competing for the users’ attention choose a simple, neutral background.
If your background has a color, make sure it’s one that flatters you. An interesting study by visual analytics and marketing platform Curalate has found that blue is the color driving the highest social media engagement. Analyzing over eight million images on Instagram, Curalate concluded that pictures that have blue as the dominant color received 24% more likes than images with a red background.
Consider your profile’s aesthetics
When people visit your Instagram page they see the whole profile, instead of the individual posts. That’s why it’s important not just to plan the look of each individual photo, but the look of your feed as a whole.
Successful brands and influencers pay attention to their profile’s aesthetics, sticking to specific filters and color palettes, as well as editing their photos in the same way, with the same contrast, brightness, and saturation settings.
Create your own unique look and make sure your profile picture fits that pattern, corresponding well to the rest of your grid.
Keep size and cropping in mind
The Instagram profile picture size on the mobile app is 110 x 110 pixels. However, on a web browser, the resolution is slightly larger. To have a high-quality image in both places, it’s best to have bigger image sizes, around 180 x 180 pixels. Also, remember that the corners of your photo are all going to be rounded out automatically so you need to make sure it looks good in a circle.
Consistency across your social media channels is important, especially for businesses and influencers. Crossover followers should recognize your Instagram profile picture. While it doesn’t necessarily have to be the same photo, make sure your Instagram profile picture is at least similar to your profile pictures on other sites.
Once you find a photo that works, stick with it and don’t change it too often. Therefore, holiday-themed photos may not be e good idea. Opt for a timeless profile photo that doesn’t need to be updated every week, or even every month.