By Daniel Hunter

Like it or loathe it no business can afford to ignore social media these days and whatever you might think about Facebook as far as sheer numbers are concerned it’s still the Daddy of them all.

Combine that with the fact that a picture says more than a thousand words and it might become clear that your Facebook profile pic is probably the single most important image you present to the outside world.

Unlike images stored within a Facebook page the profile pic itself is visible to all — it’s not hidden by privacy settings and often pops up in Google image search results.

Yet despite its singular importance many business people and those looking for work continue to post unflattering and unprofessional images as their profile pics.

Here Steve Barnes, MD at web based retail site looks at some of the pitfalls in choosing the perfect Facebook profile image.

- Trying too hard to be funny. We’ve all known people who do this. They obviously think it’ll amuse their friends to see a pic of them goofing around. But the problem is the Facebook profile pic isn’t only visible to friends — anyone who Google’s your name can see it. That means work contacts, clients, potential employers, anybody. So, unless you’re Ricky Gervais, it’s probably best to keep it simple and safe, although that doesn’t mean you have to fall into pitfall number two.

- Being too dull. It’s ok to show some personality in your profile. It doesn’t have to be the same as your passport photo. You should smile and look relaxed. And it’s preferable to be casually dressed rather than kitted out in business attire.

- Pouting like a fashion model. We have all seen the self taken photos, or selfies as they’ve become known, of people posing to camera like a contestant on Britain’s Next Top Model. The danger is that you can be perceived as self-obsessed and vacuous. Even if you think you look gorgeous resist the temptation to pout and just relax and smile instead.

- Posting a photo that isn’t you. It’s surprising how many people actually have photos of things other than themselves as their profile pic. Often they will post a photo of their child but sometimes it can be random objects. I know one guy who has a photo of his favourite chocolate bar as his profile pic. This can convey an impression of someone who isn’t happy in their own skin and prefers to hide behind someone or something else.

- Posing at an event. We have all seen pictures of people smiling in front of a stage where some rock star performs over their shoulder. You may think it’s awesome that you got tickets for Bon Jovi but not everyone will share your enthusiasm. This pic conveys that you like to have fun but it also screams ‘look at me’ a little too much. Not as bad as pitfall number 6 though.

- Posting a photo of yourself with a celeb. This is guaranteed to annoy people, particularly if you use it as a long term profile choice. OK, so you met someone famous once, great, we are really happy for you. Now get over yourself and stop making out you are their best friend. If you were you wouldn’t have them on your profile pic. Even sadder than this is when the ‘celeb’ is in fact a waxwork.

- Being an adrenaline junkie. It’s great that you’re active and there’s nothing wrong in showing the world that you take your fitness seriously. But profile pics showing someone bungee jumping or doing other high octane adventure sports should be avoided.

- Post a photo of yourself drinking. We’ve all seen profiles of people raising a glass in a toast or even glugging from a bottle. Such photos are chosen as a fun option but the message they can convey could be anything but. At best it says you are childish and immature. At worse you could be perceived as someone with a drink problem. Remember this is the face you are presenting to the online world, not just your old mates from school. Put the bottle down.

- Not wearing enough clothes. How do you want to be perceived? If you’re hoping for a career in adult movies then maybe it’s acceptable to pose in your underwear. In all other cases it really isn’t. Put some clothes on.

- Kissing your partner. We’ve all unfriended people who clog up our home page with news about how wonderful their other half is and how deeply in love they are. The only thing more boring than bragging about your love life is forcing others to watch you kiss. There’s a time and a place and Facebook isn’t it.

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