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If you read my articles for the unconventional wisdom (or, at least, the unconventional words) I generally offer, you're in for a dire disappointment today.

There are times and places to be unconventional. First introductions—the ones you make online via social media—really aren't one of them.

I'm Twitter-obsessive. No apologies. Twitter rocks.

I also feel I've got the hang of it, but not just mechanically. After a couple of years of trial and error, I'm accomplishing the objectives I have for the medium.

I'm getting the Twitterati to read and share my work. I'm discovering great content and resources. I'm expanding my influence, albeit at a slow and steady pace. But, mostly, I'm building relationships.

Relationships begin with an introduction.

In the case of Twitter (and social media in general), your profile picture is a big part of that introduction—your first impression.

What do you do when you meet someone for the first time?

You shake their hand. You tell them your name. You smile, I hope. "Nice to meet you" isn't an amazing opening line, but provided you're sincere it's a reasonable place to start.

Have you taken these common-sense practices to Twitter? It never ceases to amaze me how many people don't. They want to be creative. Kooky. Show-offy. Mysterious. All kinds of things. Sometimes they're just plain clueless.

These alternate strategies suck.

Granted, that is my opinion; but hey, it happens to be my story.

My opinion is you should be conventional with your Twitter picture. That box where you can upload anything you want, provided it's no taller or wider than 160 pixels, should be populated by a nice photo of you.

You should...

  • Have it shot by someone who can handle a camera.
  • Have the photo well-lit.
  • Crop it as a close-up.
  • Look into the lens.
  • Smile.

But Twitter profile pictures are all over the place.

It's clear that many a tweep doesn't see it my way. They see the 160px square as an opportunity for self-expression.

Here's what I see when I see such  profiles.

That's right, I'm bad. Oh man, these pix are everywhere. The smoker. The over-the-shoulder looker. The sunglasses model. The fist bumper. Should I go on? I don't want to. These badasses think they reek coolness. They don't.

I'm a logo. Your logo... Mmm-mm-mhm. So sexy, so stylish, so hot. But it leaves me so cold. I've never actually met a logo. Are they nice? None of my friends are logos.

You wish you were me. Is that Paris? Rome? Sydney? How exotic. How I wish I were you. Miniature travel photos as profile pictures don't tell me you're worldly. They tell me you think you are.

I lack confidence. Seen this one? The person is way far away from the camera lens, a speck. Why? Camera-shy? Ugly? Self-esteem issues? Maybe you should post a logo.

I'm married. Oh, wow... that's you and your significant other. Fascinating. You're sharing a life together. Very nice. Do you share this social media account too? Ahem. Get a life. There are plenty of places to show off your main squeeze, but your profile picture isn't one of them.

I'm an animal. This one's more pathetic than "I'm married." That little kitty or canine must be your best friend. The critter is so important, it's your identity. Awwwww.

Shouldn't I be a model? This drives me crazy. Your profile picture is your moment of fame, your 8 x 10 glossy. You missed your calling. Shoulda been a model. Oh those bedroom eyes. My eyes? They're rolling.

Care for spam? I approach this one delicately in an effort to not offend hard bodies. Want me to see your heart? Smile. But whoa... I see a lot of photos where the fleshy parts in front of your heart are heavily featured. In fact, I've seen this so many times, I have an instant reaction: spam.

I have a photo filter. Well look at you... You're retro, or crackly, or grainy, or sepia-toned or whatever. And this must mean you have photo editing capabilities. Very impressive.

I'm only half here. I want to be careful here to show respect for those with just one eye. But should you happen to have two, I'd really love to see them both. Why chop your head down the middle?

But seriously, folks. Yeah, we're here to do business. So you've got that intense glare going on or you're looking off camera. You look pretty serious. But seriously, what the hell are you looking at?

I'm a website. What the...? There really is no weirder profile pic than the itty, bitty, shitty Web page or app screen. I want to say get a life, but it's probably more relevant to say get a face—not an interface.

I'm an egghead. The ultimate expression of social media cluelessness is the "too lazy to upload a profile picture" culprit. On Twitter, by default, you're an egghead. That is, an egg goes where your mug is supposed. On every other network, you get one of those silhouetted outlines, like corpses do at the scene of the murder.

Come on. I'd rather have you be a one-eyed, sepia-toned, scantily clad smoker on a Harley, shot wide at the Pyramids, cozying up with your chihuahua.

Want to be somebody on social media?

Don't become a member of the Twitter profile picture hall of shame.

Show me your pearly whites and let me know you'd like to connect.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Barry Feldman

Barry Feldman is the author of SEO Simplified for Short Attention Spans. Barry operates Feldman Creative and provides content marketing consulting, copywriting, and creative direction services. He contributes to top marketing sites and was named one of 25 Social Media Marketing Experts You Need to Know by LinkedIn. To get a piece of his mind, visit his blog, The Point.

Twitter: @FeldmanCreative

LinkedIn: Barry Feldman