We put a lot of effort into making a positive impression on the people around us, whether we’re going out to dinner with friends, on a first date, to a family reunion, or for a job interview. On social media, of course, you have to make that positive impression to people from all of those situations all at once.
If you’re trying to choose a profile picture that’s best for you– whether it’s for your personal accounts, your business, or a mix of both (hey there, LinkedIn!)– the good news is there are plenty of different options to choose from.
In this post, we’re going to take a look at six different profile picture ideas that can help you set the tone that you want while accounting for the standards on different platforms, what your goals are, and your preferred level of privacy.
Should I Keep the Same Picture for Every Social Profile?
Before we dive into looking at some popular profile picture ideas that you can choose from, there’s a question that we want to address first: Should you keep the same picture for every social profile that you have?
The answer is this: It depends, but you definitely don’t need to.
A good rule of thumb is to keep your social media branding consistent across different platforms. This helps to promote brand awareness and lets users feel confident in knowing that they have, in fact, found you. You can see this here:
When it comes to your personal profiles that you -aren’t- using for business purposes (like you would if you were using LinkedIn to promote your freelancers business), the answer is that you can do whatever you’d like. Many people do have different pictures for different platforms, which vary depending on who they have following them, what the point of the platform is, and even how much anonymity they’d like.
My Instagram is completely private, so I don’t care who finds me; I have a picture of myself, my husband, and our three dogs. I don’t want anyone to find my Pinterest, however, because I only got it to obsessively store recipes and Christmas present ideas, so my profile picture doesn’t even have me at all.
Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitch, Discord, Pinterest, Snapchat, TikTok, Tumblr, Reddit, and more… There are so many platforms to keep up with, and it only makes sense that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to every platform if you’re using them differently. It makes sense that you’d have a different profile picture for your LinkedIn than you would your TikTok, and a different one still for Twitch.
6 Different Profile Picture Ideas & When to Use Them
Not sure what message you want to send, or what type of profile picture you want to use across different platforms? Let’s take a look at six popular profile picture ideas and discuss when is best to use each one.
1. Your Headshot
This, of course, is the most classic profile picture idea, and it’s what you’ll see across most platforms. The exception may be platforms that prioritize anonymity like Reddit or gaming platforms like Twitch.
Headshots should always be high quality, but even for professional accounts don’t need to be “boring.” A great example of a headshot with personality can be seen here:
This really only isn’t an option when you want more privacy and anonymity, even outside of locking down your profile and making it harder to find.
2. A Close-Up of Something You Love
Want to keep it personal, but still want to keep it challenging for the general population to find you? Choosing a profile picture of something that you care about is a great choice.
I’ve used pictures of my dogs before as profile pictures. Anyone who knew me would recognize them, but anyone who didn’t would keep on scrolling. Your profile picture could be your latest culinary creation, an open computer tower showing the work that you’ve done, a profile of your car, or your favorite flower.
This is a great option for personal profiles on platforms where you want some control over who you connect with, but you’re okay being recognized by -some- people who know you well.
3. Your Team
If you’re working on a business or other organization’s profile pictures, another good option to consider is featuring your core team members.
This can be used for any business profile pictures, and it’s a great way to build familiarity with individual team members. In addition to establishing familiarity, it can also help promote trust and rapport early on.
4. An Avatar
If you want to be completely anonymous and unrecognizable while still expressing some personality, avatars are a great choice. They’re insanely popular on platforms like Twitch, Discord, and Reddit, but they can also be found on Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and more.
You can use graphic design software like Snappa to create an avatar using simple graphic designs and overlaying them on the background of your choice; no need to hire a professional or use the same images everyone else already is.
5. Your Business Logo
Have a custom logo for your organization? Use it for your business’s profile pictures on social media.
This is easily the most popular option for businesses. It establishes brand awareness, and since your logo is distinctive, it helps you stand out. Standing out can make you more discoverable, both in terms of new audience members and those who are actively seeking you out.
6. Your Business’s Storefront
Don’t have a logo but have a recognizable storefront? Go ahead and use it for your business’s profile accounts!
This is most commonly seen on business profiles on Facebook and Instagram, but it can be used on LinkedIn, too.
Make sure it’s a high quality image that features any distinctive characteristics about the building, including a colorful awning or brand signage.
There are plenty of social media platforms you need to come up with profile picture ideas for, but the good news is that there are an enormous number of options to choose from. When creating each profile, factor in what impression you want to make, who you’re connecting with on the platform, and how public or anonymous you’d like to me.
And don’t forget to keep these best practices in mind:
- Always use clear, high-resolution images
- Try to choose clean images with plenty of white space; never choose an image that looks cluttered
- Check each profile picture to make sure that it’s cropped correctly both on desktop and mobile