“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” Theodore Roosevelt

Back To Basics

Sometimes, going back to basics is the best thing you can do when deciding to use social media to market yourself and your brand. The basics are what everything else is built on, and while there are many factors beyond your control when trying to make a good first impression, we are going to cover 10 things you have complete control over in order to make the best first impression possible online.

All social media platforms provide the user a profile page to introduce yourself. Your profile page is critical because this is where people will make a judgment call about you and your account within about 3 seconds.

It’s your job to use your profile to make a stellar first impression in order to convince people to pay attention to your online activities. Implementing the following profile optimization strategies will ensure you’re doing what you can, with what you have, where you are…just like Theodore Roosevelt suggested.

1. Neutral Screen Name

Before we dive into perfecting your profile, let’s spend a minute chatting about your screen name. It’s wise to reconsider any clever name you’ve been tempted to use such as @yummymummy or @skirtchaser23 since you may find yourself regretting the choice in the future. You’ll also want to consider the fact that you likely won’t be at the same company forever either so @salonsally could be risky as well.

Chances are, you already have a screen name. However, if it’s not one that will serve you well in business – now, or in the future – the longer you use it, the harder it will be to change. Simply using your name, if it’s available is the smartest thing you can do since it’s simple and easy for people to remember.

2. 3 Seconds…Go!

Likable, trustworthy, competent.

These are the traits you want your profile to emulate. What you have to remember, is that people do not study profiles. People spend a couple seconds scanning your profile and make a judgment on the spot. Statistics say you actually have only 3 seconds to make that lasting first impression.

3 seconds.

So here’s what you need to question. What are people focussing on in those critical first few seconds on my profile and what can I do to make the best impression possible? The answer: Your avatar, your cover, your biography.

3. Your Avatar

Your avatar is important for a few reasons. First, it confirms who you are and second, showing off your beautiful smiling face makes you more likable and trustworthy. Your face really gives people a sense of who you are and helps them relate to you. Your avatar should not showcase your car, your pet, your kids or anything else that distracts from who people need to get to know, which is you. In addition, your avatar should not include logo’s or graphics unless the avatar is a business or organization.

You’ll also want to make sure that your profile image is excellent quality. Be sure you have proper lighting for the photo shining on your face and not from behind which will cause your face to be underexposed in the image. Finally, make your image more interesting by using an asymmetrical photo. Your face, smack dab in the center hold less visual interest than having it slightly off center. Try dividing the image into thirds and placing your face within to two-thirds of the space provided.

4. Consistency

Your face is your social media logo. So when using social media professionally and branding yourself, you’ll want to use the same image across all platforms so that there is little question that your followers have found the right person when they are searching for you.

The same holds true for your business pages. If you are marketing a company or an organization, you want to use the same image across all platforms. Remember, you want people to be able to find you easily. Keep it simple, stay consistent.

5. Tagline

What do you stand for, why does your organization exist, what do people need to know about you and your company?

Your tagline is your mantra. It needs to be short, sweet, and to the point. For example:

  • GYM: the ultimate fitness solution
  • SALON: making you feel as beautiful as you are
  • CONSULTANT: creating a strategy for visionaries

Going back to number four, stay consistent. Make sure that your tagline stays the same across all of your social media profiles.

6. Stories Sell

Anyone who has spent any time in sales knows that the key to a great salesperson is their ability to tell a story. Your storyboard on social media is actually your cover image. The purpose of the cover photo is to tell a story about who you are and what’s important to you. This is the place you can have a photo of your dog, your kids, your car…IF it is relevant.

Don’t leave this cover space blank…please! Nothing screams amateur and can blow your credibility more than having a blank space where your cover image should be.

Be creative and have fun with this space. You can use your cover image to showcase your services, promote an upcoming event, or showcase a limited edition product. You can change this image more often so make good use of this spot.

7. Vanity URL

Where available, take the time to set up a vanity URL for your profile. This means that people will see:


Without a vanity URL, your link will look more like:


Since this option has been around for quite a while, getting your hands on the vanity URL you want can be tough, but I think you’d agree that almost anything is better (and more memorable) than a list of random numbers. Coming up with your vanity URL name is probably more work than actually setting it up, so don’t feel like you have to have serious tech skills to get this done. Here are some instructions on how to get your vanity URL’s up and running: How To Claim Vanity URLs.

8. Finishing Touches

You now know that people will make a quick decision based on your avatar and your cover photo regarding whether or not they want to know any more about you. If you passed the test and make it through this phase of the interview, the rest of your profile will finish the job.

Make sure you have correctly and professionally filled in your about section with a longer introduction, contact information, and links.

9. Go Pro

If you’re planning to use social media for business use, you really don’t have a choice, you’re going to have to go pro and get yourself a business page. If you have not yet read Facebook’s terms of service, for example, they warn that if a person is found using their personal timeline for business (rather than using an actual business page) they can, and will, shut down your page. No advance warnings.

Now if you’ve already started building your audience for business use, you can convert your personal page into a business page as Jon Loomer describes here, but personally, this is not something I recommend. There’s really no need to give up your personal account when you can simply set up a new page for business.

10. Check It Out

Once you’ve finished optimizing all of these important profile settings, make sure you check yourself out. You want to know what other people are seeing when they come to view your profile.

The best way to do this is to simply open a new ‘incognito window’ in chrome and view your page from the eyes of your visitors.

Like what you see? Good job, you’re ready to make a great first impression!


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