Social Media Assignment #2: Show us Your Face

By January 26, 2011Communications

I’ve been pretty adamant on this point because I believe in it so firmly.

It’s really important to show your face in social media. I see a lot of companies using a logo rather than an image of the actual person behind the tweets — I get that in some cases, there are multiple Twitter contributors to a single account. But often that’s not the case. So for single-user Twitter accounts, it is imperative to provide an image that reflects you; who you are right now (not as a four-year-old, as I am depicted to the left).

Here’s why this is important: when you’re meeting with someone for the first time, you are providing them a sense of comfort by allowing them to recognize you at first sight.

It’s not about you; it’s about what you’re doing for others.

If you’re squeamish about your own image, (trust me, I get it; I’m constantly fussing over bad hair or bags under my eyes) think about this: Roger Ebert lost his chin, jaw and, in fact the lower portion of his face due to cancer. He’s never shied away from showing us his face. If he can do it, well, come on!

Now it’s OK to be silly (see left) or seasonal (also left, at Easter) as long as it looks like you. My point here, is you do not need to hire a photographer to capture an image of you to use on social platforms.


If you want to appear professional, if you want to look good, you should absolutely leave it to the experts and hire someone to give you a headshot you’re happy to share. Digital images can be captured in the dozens, giving you the chance to select from several “takes” — choose one you are satisfied with so that you will really use it everywhere you can.

Today’s Social Media Assignment:

Find or make an appointment to get that image of your face you’re happy to show the world. Wear something that doesn’t distract from what you look like; unless you wear a hat all the time (I’m looking at you, John Feminella), don’t wear a hat in the photo. The idea is to make yourself as recognizable as possible; it’s one of the best ways to really be human in your virtual social network.

Special thanks to Angie Brement Photography for professional headshots I’m happy to use!


  • Andrea says:

    Love this, Marijean! Thank you. I just changed my twitter account image to my logo, and have been questioning the decision ever since. What you’ve written makes complete sense. I am off to change my image now! 🙂

  • Marijean says:

    Oh good — I’m looking forward to seeing you there. 🙂

  • Alice Richmond says:

    What do you think about stylized photo post-production, when the stylization is consistent with who/how the person is in the world? Also, what is your feeling about uniformity of photo aesthetic among people within the same organization?

    I’ve got my opinions, but I’m also a bit of an outlier in that my background is in the arts and I can be a bit dim when it comes to what will have the most favorable impact on the greatest number of people.

  • Marijean says:

    Alice, I think, in this case, it is better to think of your image as an ID, that is to say, it needs to be a clear representation of what you look like (is it obvious that I’m not talking about anyone who wants to be anonymous?). Showing personality is great, but over-stylized photos are not a good real-life representation of your visage. I like consistency in corporate headshots, particularly as they are often displayed together. No need to be clones, but similarity is preferred in clothing style, color theme, lighting, etc.

    There are numerous other opportunities and places to show off your arts chops in social media — your photo is perhaps not the right place.

  • Andrea says:

    Ok, another question… Do you think it is confusing if a person has two separate Twitter accounts for two separate blogs/businesses, but the same photograph on each account?

  • Marijean says:

    That is a GOOD question. I think it could be a little bit — but if the content is different enough, we have to assume the followers are different enough that it doesn’t matter. Or, for people like me, who would follow both of your accounts (I do, I think), you’re just Andrea all the time and it doesn’t really matter to me which “hat” you’re wearing.

  • Saraj says:

    Agree with MJ’s answer re: two accounts/same photo.

  • Alice says:

    I actually agree on the stylization, unless that’s part of the image of the person that will normally be seen. So, for example, I would expect Lady Gaga’s photo to be pretty tricked out, both in terms of what she’s got on and how it might be manipulated post-shoot. To me, it’s along the same lines as how Salvador Dali’s moustache was waxed in all of his official photos and “live events” v. how he might actually wear it when he was wandering around looking for a strong cuppa to stop him from seeing all of those danged melting pocket watches everywhere.

    In other words, if the person is the brand, and the brand is stylized, it might fit. Otherwise, I agree, it ought to look like the gen-u-ine article.

    I’m less aligned regarding the uniformity/conformity of photos–unless, as you say, there’s a strong possibility of them being used together. Apart from that, I don’t have an issue with each person having a photo that best reflects who they are and how they are likely to be occupied.

    So, for example, if one of the faculty members in my department is focused primarily on rural sociology related to leisure (e.g., agritourism, hiking, etc.), then a photo of him atop Mount Washington, beaming at the camera, makes a certain amount of sense. Meanwhile, another faculty member whose focus is philanthropy and service learning might select a photo related to her work in those areas–perhaps with students at a conference with state and federal government folks, suited up and looking like the dynamic powerhouse she is. If both photos are clear, of reasonable quality, and realistically lit? I’m good with it.

    It could be that some of this falls into the category of industry differences. Academia is a wild and woolly place! (Says she of the music industry, health care, and corporate background.) There is a very strong sense of entitlement to personal identity and its expression. Telling the faculty that they “must” do anything in precisely the same way is asking for a dressing down that is anything but subtle–though, if they’re really good at it, it could consist of nothing more than a piercing glare. They are not trained in compliance like corporate folk tend to be.

    I agree that the most important piece is that the person be recognizable as himself or herself. And, all other things being equal, I think it’s a good idea to have a small suite of shots (group and individual) available that are more along the classic headshot lines–just in case.

    And so two cents become a nickel…

  • Marijean, this is such a helpful post. I think you may have mentioned the idea on Twitter a little while back, and that’s when I changed my Twitter profile picture from a logo to my face. I think it’s made a positive difference.

    On the other hand, do you have advice on what I should do for the picture on my Facebook site? I have my logo there right now, and don’t necessarily want my face on that one as I’d like it to be something that is more general to fashion or to the blog itself. I can understand the personal photo on Twitter, since Twitter seems to involve more personal interaction, but Facebook Fan Pages don’t as much. What are your thoughts?

  • Marijean says:

    Hi Dana, for your Facebook page (and I’m assuming you’re referring to the page that represents your blog), I think you should use the logo, as you have done. It is your brand. I am referring to personal profiles in which people are often using images that are not headshots (formal or informal).

  • Thx for the shout out!