A typical Instagram profile is loaded with images, but there’s no argument about the most important image of them all; it’s the little circular one at the top right corner of your profile. All your cherished profile visitors will see your Instagram profile picture and bio first (these are the only elements they see if you have a private account). This is you telling the world who you are, so it has to be ‘picture-perfect’, right?
Your Instagram profile photo alone might make a user go to your page and check out your content (or even buy your products)!
You can definitely dazzle your fans with your posts, stories, reels, etc. But it is the DP (Display Picture) that is seen in notifications, in their inbox, etc. So let us ensure that the image that is projected across your favourite social networking platform is of high quality, and is the best one for you.
For every business/brand/agency page, having the right Instagram profile picture is imperative. This is because it shows what your company is all about in just one image (since there are no cover photos for Instagram). If you are a company selling creative products, your profile picture should reflect that. So give a thought about what your business represents and portray that in the Instagram profile picture. [Side Note: Bios also help convey what a business/handle represents, but these are often written in a rush. Check out how you can write a great one!]
It is also a good idea to stick with a profile picture once you’ve had it updated, especially if you are a brand or your influencer. Eventually, your community or followers will have familiarized with this profile picture, and it will become an essential brand element for you. Think of it as a brand logo; you wouldn’t go around changing that every year, would you? This is relevant to other aspects of your profile page as well, like bio and username. More on this later!
Reasons why you should have a good Instagram profile picture
1. It is your brand
Your profile picture on every social media should be the same and stay the same for years as it is your brand.
If you’re already big, you’ll likely only make changes to your profile image if you’re going through a major shift in brand identity. This is usually a HUGE deal. Remember the hype when Burger King changed their logo and all their profile pictures?
Because it is considered such a huge deal to change a brand’s logo and its other elements, it can only be done once in a while. In the case of Burger King, this was their first change in logo design in about 20 years. Prior to this, they’ve had the same Instagram profile image since the inception of their profile.
For practical purposes, your fans and followers should be able to instantly recognize you in a sea of icons if you establish your brand and stay consistent. So make sure that the picture you choose always represents what you or your company stands for.
As a brand, you are (hopefully) going to have tons of followers and are going to influence their opinions. For this reason, you should take extra care in putting up a profile picture that is inoffensive.
2. Icon for Instagram stories
If you go on Instagram, you will be able to see the icons of users who have posted a story (or stories) recently. You can scroll and select the one that you want to see. If you establish your brand well, your icon i.e your profile picture will be immediately recognized and your followers will be eager to check out the updates you push. So make sure the picture is “picture-perfect” as it will be seen in stories all the time.
Pro-tip: An increasing number of people are adding colourful borders around their profile pictures to resemble a story icon. This is done so people can click on their icon thinking it is a story, but are instead taken to their profile. AVOID THIS BY ALL MEANS! It is seen as spammy and causes annoyances. It also increases your chances of getting reported as spam. You don’t want that when you are looking to gain followers.
3. Your Instagram profile picture helps build credibility
A unique, professional-looking logo helps build credibility and gains recognition over time, as your brand grows. For this reason, it is completely worth your while to put extra effort into designing your profile image. You don’t want to look unprofessional when presenting yourself to people who would genuinely consider purchasing your products or services.
How to change your Instagram profile picture
Go on Instagram on your mobile and click on the icon on the bottom-right where your profile pic will come. Select the option of “Edit Profile” and then “Change Profile Photo”. You can import one from Facebook or upload a new one from your Gallery.
Before deciding on your permanent profile picture, there are certain dos and don’ts that you should keep in mind. Let us go through them –
1. Do – Make sure you get the dimensions right
Instagram profile picture size is an important element to consider in the process of deciding the perfect profile picture. The image should be as clear as possible. If it is possible, click pictures in a quality camera and upload a high-definition image as a profile picture. Instagram displays 110 x 110 pixels on mobile and 180 x 180 pixels on the browser.
Another thing to keep in mind once you settle on the image size is that the profile picture will be displayed in a circle and it will cut out the corners of your square photo. So the best photo to upload would be the one with a 1:1 aspect ratio, with 200 x 200 pixels, and with you in the centre so your face doesn’t get cut off.
2. Do – Choose the right color and color scheme
If this is your company page where the logo is blue, then ensure that all the pictures that you post are also in the same colour scheme. It is important to have the profile picture, the posts, and the stories all in the same colour palette for aesthetic appeal. The more pleasing it is to look at, the more followers you get. Going through your posts should be an enjoyable experience.
One area of design that is worth looking into, is colour psychology. You can use this not only on your profile picture but on the entire theme of your Instagram feed. Essentially, colour psychology is all about how different colours (and different shades of colours) affect one’s mood and behaviour. You ideally want to evoke very positive emotions as Instagram users scroll through your feed. Contrary to popular belief, not all bright shades induce positive emotions, and not all subdued, subtle shades dull you down.
If you really want an Instagram feed that stands out and is instantly likeable, integrate colour psychology when designing your profile picture, and your posts/stories/Reels. It’ll be worth it.
3. Do – Ensure that your Instagram profile picture is evergreen
A lot of brands and Insta celebs do the mistake of posting a seasonal picture on the display. If you post your picture near a Christmas tree, it looks out of date in the summer. Keep a neutral background so it is applicable throughout the year. Also, aforementioned, ensure your profile picture does not hurt the sentiments of any individuals or groups, as this could lead to major controversies.
4. Do – Select the one with good lighting and clear contrast
While clicking the picture, make sure there is plenty of natural light. Look at the camera squarely and smile in a way that reaches your eyes and shows your teeth. Your Instagram profile will look best if you are wearing dark-coloured suits with light-coloured button-downs in your profile picture.
Ironically, the gentleman in the Tweet above talking about profile pictures hasn’t followed this best practice. Due to the sun directly behind him, his face is in the shadow and the details are barely visible. If you’re an influencer, avoid this completely! That is, of course, if you’re going for a classy silhouette look.
5. Do – Use cute props
Instagram profile pics are all about expressing how you look as well as how you are as a person. Show something about yourself in the profile picture itself so your followers can have something in common with you from the get-go. If you are having trouble thinking of a prop, ask yourself “What is the one thing about you that you would want everyone to know?” or “What means the most to me?”
A good way to attract followers is to have a relatable prop in the profile picture. For example, pets are great to have in a profile picture! Grab your furry friend and give them some of the spotlight. Cute profile pics need cute furry friends in them.
6. Don’t – Use a picture that is off-center
If you want a cool profile pic, choose the one where you are in the centre. If you are in the far corners, you will get cut out of your own profile picture and that is just laughable.
7. Don’t – Use a full-body image or text photo
Good profile pictures are the ones that have a close-up picture of a person or just a small one or two words in the image.
Full-body images work very well for Instagram posts, but not so much for profile images. This is owing to how small the display of the Instagram profile image is; a full-body image would mean all of your features will appear too tiny to clearly see, and this fully beats the point of having a full-body image in the first place.
Save these for the posts. Add a nice close-up for your profile picture.
A lot of users also make the mistake of having a quote on it but they forget that followers won’t be able to clearly read the text. It is better to have quotes in the bio instead and keep the profile picture simple. Aesthetic profile pictures are the ones that are eye-catchy and easily understandable with a glance. Don’t make your fans work to see your profile picture.
If you are really into quotes and want to share them with people, post them in images to increase engagement with your audience. Increasing engagement is the best part about being a social media influencer and if you need some tips on increasing the fan interaction, click here for a few simple hacks.
8. Don’t – Hide your face with props
People try to take cool profile pictures using sunglasses and hats. Don’t make that mistake as an influencer. Profile pictures are supposed to look approachable which means you should shed the props that hide your beauty and embrace the camera. If you are having trouble with that or feel self-conscious, forget about the camera and focus on a point near the camera. What is the person clicking the picture wearing? Focus on that or something else instead.
Other things to avoid are hair and shadow over the face. You don’t have to take hair out of the picture, just make sure that it is not covering too much of your face. If the sun is coming into your eyes and making you squint, change the direction. Try not to squint or glare at the camera. Find a sweet spot where your eyes look naturally relaxed.
Ensure there is no shadow over your eyes because it makes you look darker and sleep-deprived. Don’t try to look sexy with your facial expression either because it doesn’t look sexy to a lot of people. Just be your happy self and post all the hot pics in the Instagram feed.
There are a lot of things to keep in mind while clicking good pictures for your profile, but don’t forget to have fun! In the end, you’re trying to project an image of who you candidly are.
Clicking pictures and capturing your current self is important even if you don’t get your perfect Instagram profile picture.
Don’t – Use heavy filters
Sometimes, we all have the urge to use the many filters on Instagram and Snapchat, so we can hide the little imperfections in our skin and facial features. However, this is not a great idea when it comes to your profile picture.
If you add a filter to what is possibly one of the main elements of your Instagram profile, this will become one of the things your audience will remember you by. A preset filter rather than your real, unfiltered face. This will also lead to first-time profile viewers assuming a certain identity for you, that may or may not resemble your real identity. As a brand or influencer, you would not want this to happen.
Profile picture best practices on LinkedIn
As a brand, you’ll most likely have your logo and brand colours as profile pictures on all social media platforms. If you’re an influencer though, it’s best to adapt to the norms and best practices of the different platforms.
You can be as wacky you want on Instagram if it aligns with your handle’s activity. On LinkedIn, it’s best to be a little more conventional and conservative. It’s a very professional environment, so here at the least, it’s important that your face is properly visible and that your attire is decent.
Profile picture best practices on Twitter
A Twitter profile image can be very goofy or very professional depending on what you want to discuss (rant about?) on your profile. Like in other platforms, the profile picture is tiny when your threads appear on someone else’s feed, so choosing a colour that contrasts with the black/white theme of Twitter is a great idea!
On Twitter, a lot of people are also more ‘real’ than they are on Facebook, Instagram and especially LinkedIn. Ranting on random topics, venting out thoughts and calling out people and organisations for wrongdoings is not uncommon at all. If your goal with Twitter is to ‘be real,’ let this reflect on your profile picture. Post one that’s completely, unapologetically you with no sugar-coating. Happy ranting!
Once you have selected the profile picture, you can start increasing your follower count with awesome posts, engaging stories, and accurate hashtags. Never underestimate the power of hashtags because they can make you go from nobody to an Insta celeb overnight.
New to social media management or Instagram? These blogs listed below will get you started, and provide helpful insights on best practices to follow (and those to avoid) on social media:
- How to get more Instagram followers
- Tricks to generate engagement on Instagram
- How to fix your hashtags if they refuse to work
- Generating inspiration for Instagram content ideas
- Writing an effective Instagram bio
- Finding out the best time to post on Instagram
- How to choose the right Instagram hashtags for likes and engagement
- Things to avoid doing with your Instagram business account
- Why you need a content calendar if you’re a social media manager