Every single day for the past twenty two years of my life, I have never left my house without having to worry about my appearance. I am human, and as such, I tend to identify myself by what I wear. Others tend to identify me by what I wear. My original Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses let the world know that I am ahead of the curve and up-kept with the current trends, my unbrushed hair places my in the ‘artist’ category of things, and my Beats by Dre headphones confirm my love for music.
People tend to judge others on first impressions, which is one of the main reasons why we buy the things we buy. We all want to be judged the way we want to be judged.
I’m sure you do too.
And believe it or not, this is translating very well into our digital lives.
But how exactly?
Just Like Real Life
Just how we are constantly trying to fit in with a certain crowd or to be seen in a certain way by our peers in real life, we are doing the same in our digital lives. And by digital lives I mean our social media profiles. If you come to think about it, our online profiles are a lot more than just an extension to our real lives.
I truly believe that in the online world, we are given a lot more freedom to be our true selves as opposed to in ‘the real world’. In the same way many people find it easier to ‘text’ bad news rather than to share it via phone or in person, social media allows us to be the person we want to be without having to face the immediate physiological reactions from others.
It’s a sort of testing ground.
A couple of days ago I posted a rap video of myself on Youtube. Needless to say, it was the first time I had ever tried my hand at rap, and as bad of a rapper I am… I enjoyed the experience immensely. That being the case, I would have never done this in real life.
It’s still personal, but without the need to be in a position of discomfort… we feel comfortable when people watch from a distance.
I think that this is very important to understand.
Then why are most social media profiles I come across really awful? If our online identities are more than just an extension of our real lives, shouldn’t we be investing a little bit more time and effort into how they look? How does design play a role in this?
I believe that design plays an extremely important role. A role that, if done right, can potentially change lives in a very positive way.
The Other Perspective
Whenever I’m browsing my friends lists on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Google+, I often give those with good looking social media profiles a lot more value than the rest. Just how our real lives have been translated to our online profiles, I believe that the opposite is the same too.
I would very rarely accept a friend request or choose to dig deeper into another persons profile if at first glance I don’t like what I see. And by what I see, I mean a nice clean profile with a professional looking profile picture (not the 2 megapixel mobile phone pics we see), a clear and simple description, without too much information… which can often be distracting. First impressions count a lot.
Now what if I was a really big sponsor looking for individuals to represent my brand, or maybe a company owner searching targeted individuals for freelance work? I would most definitely skip the guys with bad looking profiles.
And with social media starting to play a dominant role in our lives, I can only assume that more and more companies and brands will start to search for individuals in a similar way.
Now, I know that this is unfair and that most people who have these awful looking social media profiles aren’t necessary the way I think they are in real life, but I believe that this is how the world works. Eye candy is really important, and if eye candy is what they want, then eye candy is what we should give to them… right?
On the contrary, whenever I see a good looking profile, I am automatically interested in that person and feel like I would like to get to know more about them. I approach these people.
These people are the ones I would hire.
A challenge. Maybe?
Making sure that you are one of these people that I would prefer to approach than to ignore can be a challenge. It can take a lot of time, effort, and maybe even some money. But just like everything else in life, hard work pays off, and with just a little bit of patience, you can be rocking you’re new look within a few weeks.
I truly believe that anyone can go form a profile zero to a profile hero, and right now, whilst social media is still at it’s infancy, is the best time to make this change in your life in order to reap the benefits in the long term. It’s always good to be ahead of the competition.
And it all starts with asking yourself the simple question: why?
Why This is Important
Because you would never go to a party in your pajamas.
Come to think of it, it would be more than just a party. It would be a party where everyone you know, from your mother, to your friends, work colleagues, as well as everyone else who knows these people.
In order to first understand this, I think that it is necessary to understand how web design worked in the early days of the internet. I am not a specialist, and am too young to remember those days… but from what I know and can recollect… there was very little focus on web design. Coders weren’t designers, and the entire industry just didn’t understand the importance of good design on the web yet.
Social media profiles are different, but still a similar concept. Most of us using these platforms aren’t designers, and we still don’t get the importance of having a good looking social media profile.
Today, good web design is often a main focus for most websites!
It’s really easy to find anyone nowadays… a simple Google search can bring up your Facebook and EVERY-OTHER-SOCIAL-MEDIA profile. Anyone can find you at any time. And it’s always an advantage to be prepared and looking your best.
That girl you have a crush on could check (she probably has) your social media profile at any moment.
Anyone can find you at any time.
The CEO of your favorite company might be looking for a new assistant manager and you just so happened to be recommended to him by a friend of a friend. The first thing he would probably do is to check out your Facebook page. Colleges are known to do this too.
I guess that my main point is that in the world of social media and of having these ‘online identities’, you really never do know who is watching… so you might as well make sure that you are looking your best at all times.
Missed opportunities are hard to get back.
I personally spend a lot of time making sure that my online identities look good. My Tumblr blog was custom designed, my Facebook fan page hosts very high quality photos/videos, and I am very selective about the things I write and share. The first thing I want people to think when they visit my page is ‘this looks really good’… because it gives them a reason to want to learn more about me. It makes them curious.
Once they start to click through my profiles they will discover the things I do, my videos, my photos, the articles I write… and only then will they truly judge if they are willing to spend more of their time checking my stuff out. A nicely designed profile does not guarantee that anyone who stumbles upon it will become a fan or a follower… but it does make it a lot easier for that person to be interested in you.
It is an important first step, and when done right… if your work or whatever you do is good enough, then you will have one extra fan, follower, etc!
A good example of this is a Facebook fan page I started almost exactly one year ago. My partner and I post photos of pretty things on an almost daily basis. Our main goal is to make it the prettiest fan page on Facebook, and so far it has been going very well. We are currently at over 2,600 fans purely from word of mouth, and although this is not a large amount, we have a very strong and supportive community and often get a good amount of ‘likes’ and comments on each and every single photo we post.
Why is this? Because we have a great looking profile, and I really do believe that people tend to trust good looking profiles more… which leads to customer loyalty, etc, etc…
Now, I know that I don’t have the worlds best profile and that I can be doing a lot more to make these changes, but so far I am very happy with the results I have been getting, and you can be too.
Here are four points that I believe to be the most important in terms of the design and the aesthetics of your social media profile.
- Focus on Visual Media.
- Sex does not sell.
- Don’t be lazy.
- Know what to share.
Focus on Visual Media
For the most case, we aren’t really given the tools to custom design our social media profiles exactly the way we want them to look. I believe that this is a good thing because it creates a certain level of equality between users. So then what do you do if you want your profile to shine? You focus on visual media.
Photos are most probably the biggest and most used feature on Facebook. Take advantage of that. Now I know that not everyone has a good camera, but nowadays it’s pretty easy to find a decent camera for a good price.
Be patient and keep on shooting yourself up until you get that perfect profile picture. You can even ask a friend to shoot you, and if worse comes to worst, you could very simply just hire a professional.
I think that it is also good to have a few (minimum 4) photo albums of the different places you have been with the people you enjoy spending time with. Again, these albums should not be taken on a regular mobile phone camera, rather, they should be taken on a camera with relatively good quality.
It’s funny how people choose to judge others, but I can guarantee that this alone will make a huge difference as to how you are approached by others in the online world.
It is a plus if you are a designer/videographer or any other type of visual artist, mostly because you will be able to create really original and unique albums… especially if your work is really good.
Be Inspiring, Not Sexy
In real life, our kids are being more encouraged to be sexy rather than inspiring. I believe that this is very wrong, and thankfully so, it does not seem to be translating very well into the digital world of things.
Now, I know that this is less about design and more of a personal touch… but it really does factor into the whole equation.
There is enough crap on the internet. Everyone is talking about what they are doing, the things they have, the things they want… it’s a very selfish environment… and selfishness is not very attractive.
A good way to boost your social profile is to make it less about yourself and more about everyone else. It’s ironic, but it works.
You can easily do this by posting inspirational status updates, ‘liking’ the work of others, and engage with others by commenting and complimenting on their photos, status updates, etc…
These are all small things, but they can go a long way. It is important though to always be authentic and to only do these things if you believe in them.
Don’t be Lazy
You wouldn’t normally leave your house without having showered or shaved for a week… right? The same should be done for our social media profiles!
We often get lazy and end up having multiple untitled albums (mobile uploads, etc), ‘like’ too many different pages, and have a whole list of applications we have signed up to but never understood or use.
This has to change.
Start by going through your individual tabs (info, photos, etc) and cleaning out everything that is unnecessary. Try to label everything as well, and keep things at a bare minimum. Only what is necessary is what counts.
Try to be as active as possible on these platforms, because funnily enough, people tend to be attracted to others who seem to be exciting with many things going on for them. A deserted profile will always stay deserted.
And yes, ALWAYS delete spam posted on your wall.
Know What to Share
I think that it is really important to know what to share, as well as what to share on which platforms. One of the biggest things that I have realized with Google+ is that I am a lot likely to share things I find and like mostly because it just looks so good on my Google+ profile.
I wouldn’t normally share the things on Google+ on my Facebook profile, so it is important to become familiar with different platforms and to make sure that the things you share genuinely look good.
You will be seen and represented by the things you share, so the content should be good, and always make sure to add your own two cents.
This can very simply be a trial and error method.
I believe that an active, clean, and good looking social media profile (be it Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or Tumblr) can benefit an individual greatly. In a world where these platforms are literally changing the way we live and communicate, it only makes sense to jump on board and start taking these first steps.
One of the main reasons I decided to write this article is because I haven’t seen much written about this topic, so I thought that it would be cool to investigate a little bit more into it.
I have created an online identity that I am becoming more like every single day. He is my ideal self, and I always make sure that he looks good… because well, everyone is watching.
The roles are changing, and it’s about time that everyone catches up.
Please feel free to leave your comments below if you agree, disagree, or just have something to add. I would really love to know what you guys think about this.