How to Strategize Headshots and Your Personal Brand

I recently started a question over on LinkedIn about social media portraits. There was a flurry of answers that covered a wide variety of topics and concepts. But, at the end of the day, your head shot is more important than ever to your personal brand.

“Personal branding is a description of the process whereby people and their careers are marked as brands. Further defined as the creation of an asset that pertains to a particular person or individual…, leading to an indelible impression that is uniquely distinguishable. ” wikipedia

Social media, the twitter feeds, facebooks, foursquares, yelps, etc, are all being used by people and companies to attempt to be “uniquely distinguishable” from everyone else with a service or product to sell. And, each one has a different “feel” or look, just like different channels on the cable box. The Science channel looks different than ABC. It has different programming. And, the commercials are often different – even if they are from the same company, selling the same product!

So, does this mean that you need to have a different head shot for each social media outlet? As a photographer who enjoys working with people on these types of projects, I would love to say “Yes.” But, I am biased. And, I am not sure I would be right.

See what you think of the answers from these marketing experts.

Peter Oriolo, a social media expert, feels you should be consistent and have the same avatar across all social medias. Alan Brooks has a pet peeve about personal photos being used on LinkedIn. “I am still amazed at the very experienced professionals who use a picture of themselves at a party, wedding or with their pet.”

There were quite a few comments that repeated my Mom’s favorite phrase, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” People do business with people, not brands. And, with more and more people competing and doing business online only, that little avatar may be the only impression!

There was one person who was “dead-set against pics on my LI profile, FB profile, etc.” John Zadikian goes onto say, “I’m a voiceover talent, which means people are hiring me to write compelling copy for them and voice it well. They don’t care what I look like.”

I also asked about how people chose their photographers for their headshots. The overwhelming first criteria was a referral or recommendation from a friend or co worker. The second most important thing was to look at the photographer’s portfolio or body of work for images that were quality and appropriate to the shoot.

Wallace Jackson, multimedia producer, had an interesting, and slightly frightening, thought, “The less that is on your profile the more important the profile photo will be.”

Olga Slavkina, passionate European funky brand strategist, said  “Profile pictures are very important, and so is the role of photographers in shaping personal brands.”

But, I thought that Alan Brooks summed it up best when he said, “You should put as much thought into your head shot as you would when creating an advertisement. It’s a creative process.”

“Don’t try to do everything yourself. Find a horse to ride”. From the book Positioning: The Battle for your Mind, by Al Ries and Jack Trout.

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