How You Can Stand Out Professionally
The Importance of a Visual Content Strategy on LinkedIn
You reach out to this impeccably dressed man, one you’ve heard so many positive things about. You’re excited to engage and get to know him better. You’re curious, naturally. And it’s a limp handshake. You’re slightly rattled by this.
Here’s another one. You’re meeting someone at a business luncheon and throughout the conversation, something’s not sitting right with you. Your eye is drawn to how rumpled his shirt is and the small food stain on the front of his shirt.
“You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression,” says James Uleman, PhD, a psychology professor at New York University and researcher on impression management. The good news with a faceface-to-face to face interaction is that despite the ways things can go wrong, you’re there in the flesh and in the moment to perceive reactions and subtleties and take action on the spot. You can correct, redirect and minimise.
But what about people who are meeting you for the first time in a digital context, such as by viewing your LinkedIn profile? Where is your opportunity to perceive a reaction or make any correction in real time? The circumstances are different, and for this reason, it is important to focus on how you can put your best foot forward with your profile.
A visual content strategy for LinkedIn and why it matters
Simply put, a visual content strategy requires you to have a plan, a considered approach to all the visual elements of your LinkedIn profile. Granted, LinkedIn is not built like Instagram, thanks to a focus on text-based content. But through the years, there has been a rise in visuals, videos and LinkedIn Lives on the site.
Visuals are powerful when done well. As there are specific areas within LinkedIn that you can incorporate visuals, you should.
According to Brain Rules by John Medina, when people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10 per cent of it three days later. But if this is paired with a relevant image, people retain 65 per cent of the information three days later. People are visually oriented.
Visuals incorporate colour which can spark a range of emotion. Cool colours often spark feelings of calmness whereas warm colours could spark a range of emotions from comfort to even anger. Visuals increase the desire to read the content associated and can generate curiosity about what is discussed. According to a white paper, by eCommerce provider Invodo, about 57 per cent of consumers said that product videos make them more confident in a purchase and less likely to return an item, up from 52 per cent a year ago.
Visuals, in general, have such power simply because of how humans are built. So when visuals are well-thought-out, planned in terms of clear outcomes and aligned to the text content, visuals have the power to carry the narrative forward and strengthen it. They break the monotony of text and build trust and credibility.
Understand that there are different types of people out there. Some are more comfortable processing ideas by listening, some by reading and others by watching videos. The more that you are able to accommodate these differences by incorporating a range of formats for your content, the better your chances of conveying your message effectively and to a wider audience.
Take a look at these two LinkedIn profiles below. Notice the differences and how you are reacting to both. You will see how important visuals are to creating the desired perception.
There are a few types of visual content that you can publish on LinkedIn such as images, videos, infographics and presentation slides. These can also be embedded in different areas within your profile.
This includes the space set aside for a profile image, the background header image, in Featured Media, as attachments in Experience and as supporting media in a post or article. Some spaces stand out more than others. This is important to consider when developing these visual media and knowing where you would like to place them.
Here is one way in which you can improve your LinkedIn profile through visual content and stand out for the right reasons.
Put a face to your name
Every LinkedIn profile comes with the ability to include a profile photo.
The ideal professional-looking photo is a head and shoulders shot. So it is best to avoid party shots, group shots where your image is cropped out, selfies or photos taken in a car. Also, avoid using sunglasses in your photo
Pay attention to photo composition which means the arrangement of the different elements of the photo. It is how you put things within the frame to make it interesting. Think about your choice of backdrop, choice of colour, the possibility of too many elements that crowd or distract or conversely, are too bleak or bland
Pay attention to distance. If the subject captured is too far from the lens, it is hard to make out their features. The reader may be prompted to wonder why this is the case. If the subject is too near, the photo may look off balance or even distorted
Look up the image size recommendations for LinkedIn to ensure that your images appear as you intend and are not cropped off badly when uploaded. This is especially relevant where your images contain text
Investing in a professional photographer is highly recommended and the results can be used for a good number of years
If you decide against a professional photographer, ensure that your camera settings capture the highest resolution possible. While a high-resolution photo can be cropped and resized without compromising quality, a lower resolution image cannot be enlarged well
Ensure you have good lighting for the shoot. Daytime is preferable but take care with this as outdoor light needs to be controlled. Harsh light can cause squinting as well as cast shadows (where shadows fall may impact image quality)
If you are not comfortable having your photo taken, experiment with a few different poses till you arrive at one you like. Try standing, sitting or leaning. Consider arm placement and whether your face is tilted too. Take a few photos and examine them so you know how you’d like to make necessary adjustments
Remember first impressions matter. Be confident. Give yourself a pep talk prior. Smile. Feel the energy you are creating and put it out there.
This is a condensed version of a longer article. For the remaining six tips for your visual content strategy, please read A Way to Stand Out Professionally.
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