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Monday, 8 November 2010

Your Brand on Social Media

Photo of Penny Haywood Calder, PHPR's MD on a huge billboard illustrating Pictures with PR impact
PHPR - Pictures with PR impact
First impressions count - and that's all down to your photo on social media.

Mashable/Social Media* asked designers for tips on boosting your personal brand.

The first is kinda obvious: start with a sharp, in-focus quality pic.

Secondly, use the same pic to become instantly recognisable as you post across forums and social media.

Thirdly: check out how your pic is being displayed and re-scale if necessary using Photoshop or the free GIMP photo editing software. My cheat's way to avoid mucking about with picture editing is to use Google's Picassa to organise pictures and do basic editing tasks because it's a lot faster than dedicated editing software. To re-size photos, export the photo from Picassa to your hard drive (the export function is near the bottom of the screen) and you'll get an option to adjust the photo size setting.

If you want to jazz up your photo, the Mashable post suggests using Photoshop to get a retro Lomo photo look or a pencil drawing effect. However, you can get both these in Picassa now they have linked up with the excellent (and easy to use) Picnik tool. Picnik offers a lot of freebie photo effects and charges a small annual fee to access premium effects. But I suggest remembering to use the 'save as' function to keep a copy of your original pic as effects go in and out of fashion and a good photo is often surprisingly difficult to re-create.

If you're using your photo for business, I'd personally avoid their suggestion of using an avatar instead of a photo. Real people tend to buy from real people, unless you're in a very funky niche where people don't care what you might look like, but might be impressed with the latest design band-waggon.

I am grateful to the Mashable post for leading me to Photofunia.com which offers compellingly good photo mash-ups. I used it to create the photo above. However, I don't think that diluting your personal brand by mixing it in with something else will help on most social media sites when the pic is reduced to a 1cm square. It'll be extremely hard to recognise you from the little portion on the mash-up.

But I have to admit Photofunia is great fun and will make striking personalised cards (yes, there is a Xmas tree with the option of putting your photo on the baubles). It's also another way of getting your face better known, creating personal and unusual photos for newsletters and blogs. There's research that shows people switch off from stock shots in blogs and newsletters but do pay attention to pictures of relevant people (but not models). Photofunia is a fun way to get your face into lots of good-looking situations and hopefully the personal touch will get your images past the viewers' visual bloat response.

There's lots of effects to choose from and it's free, but I wouldn't use a combined image as my main personal brand on the little squares allowed on most social media and forum sites.

And they do have a Photofunia song:
PhotoFunia Theme by photofunia

*http://mashable.com/2010/04/12/profile-picture-tips/



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