A profile photo is your representative in the digital world.

We look to it every time we interact with you online, and even imagine it speaking the words you type.

Profile photos are so essential to modern communication that a good one’s become a basic necessity. And that couldn’t be truer than for those of us whose professional lives are tied to social media profiles.

That’s why we at PhotoFeeler decided to set our first major study on the goal of targeting just a few, over-arching guidelines.

That is, we asked ourselves— if we set aside characteristics like gender, age, and physical traits, to focus only on what we can easily control— what elements reliably produce a better professional headshot photo (for use on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)?

The Study

The study was based on over 60,000 ratings of perceived Competence, Likability, and Influence for 800 profile photos in our PhotoFeeler database.

To begin the experiment, photos were tagged to denote the presence of (and/or degree of) a long list of characteristics. A small subset of these required unique programmatic tagging, as in photo brightness or darkness, in order to control absolute values.

Ben, our resident mathematician, then composed an analysis that isolated each condition so its impact could be measured independently. Upon examining each characteristic’s p-value to confirm or deny statistical significance, we narrowed our findings to a list of reliable dos and don’ts.

The Results by Photofeeler