Real-World Education for Modern Marketers

Join Over 600,000 Marketing Professionals

Start here!
Text:  A A

Twitter Profile Picture Hall of Shame

by   |    |  6,174 views

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.

Join over 600,000 marketing professionals, and gain access to thousands of marketing resources! Don't worry ... it's FREE!


We will never sell or rent your email address to anyone. We value your privacy. (We hate spam as much as you do.) See our privacy policy.

Sign in with one of your preferred accounts below:


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

Rate this  

Overall rating

  • This has a 3 star rating
  • This has a 3 star rating
  • This has a 3 star rating
  • This has a 3 star rating
  • This has a 3 star rating
5 rating(s)

Add a Comment


  • by Andrea Tue Sep 3, 2013 via web

    Barry, you made me LOL! Thank you for that, and for the fun words of wisdom!

  • by Mark Madere Tue Sep 3, 2013 via web

    Right on Barry! And your article also applies to LinkedIn "portraits."

  • by jma Tue Sep 3, 2013 via web

    Sigh. It's THEIR portrait, isn't it? (FWIW, my usual avatar is none of the above, but sometimes during hockey season, I fly the Canadiens flag. Don't like it? Tant pis!)

  • by Aruodo Tue Sep 3, 2013 via web

    Hilarious!!! You made me LOL - and that's funny considering I'm one of the eggheads! LOL!!

  • by chris kelso Tue Sep 3, 2013 via web

    yeah but what about the guy who wants to show he is cool by wearing a fedora?

  • by Dain Tue Sep 3, 2013 via web

    This is absolutely hilarious. Can you share some examples of corporate twitter images that work. For the individual, it seems straight forward to capture an image of yourself that doesn't fit any of these cliche things to do, but for a corporate twitter account it is a little harder.

  • by Barry Feldman Tue Sep 3, 2013 via web

    @chriskelso %3E Hmm. That guy is probably bald.

  • by margs Tue Sep 3, 2013 via web

    LOL. Nice one!

  • by Tobias Schremmer Tue Sep 3, 2013 via web

    Barry, LOVE this piece. Maybe because I've written two similar posts mocking the various poor profile photos on LinkedIn. If you haven't caught them, take a gander and enjoy. For the record, I like how you condensed the categories, more concise yet still highly entertaining.

    For the commenters/readers who hold to the "this is MY pic, I can do what I want to" - I would just ask: Do you go about your daily business/work-life wearing bizarre outfits or donning distracting paraphernalia? Probably not. Our profile pics are being viewed more than ever, so take the basic steps Barry outlines here and do yourself a favor.

  • by Deepa John Wed Sep 4, 2013 via web

    Absolutely hilarious! Thanks.

  • by Ryan Wed Sep 4, 2013 via web

    I could see this article and these rules being important for a LinkedIn profile and all since that's supposed to be a more professional networking arena. However, I find Twitter to be a very casual outlet so you should be able to be more creative with your profile picture. I do agree that the picture should still be in good taste, but common, it's Twitter for goodness sake. You should be able to be fun and creative.

    I could say a few comments about the guy who wrote this article. Look at me in my fedora and glasses...I'm a hipster. And look how I use profanity in a "supposed" professional article. That means I'm edgy too! See, you could make an argument for anything. I think this article is taking Twitter too seriously. It's your account, do what you long as it's in good taste.

  • by Barry Feldman Wed Sep 4, 2013 via web


    Thanks for chiming in on this. I think you're right. If you believe Twitter is a casual outlet and not for professional purposes, why not have fun with your profile picture? Of course, even if it's a different social media, it's your profile, so you can do what you want. I wrote this article for people who take Twitter seriously, that is, to build a brand.

  • by Randy Milanovic Thu Sep 5, 2013 via iphone

    Haters come in many forms. Gotta ask myself, will I ever get those 5 minutes back?

  • by Rogier van der Maas Tue Sep 10, 2013 via web

    Funny and some even made me smile. Getting a good picture is tough.

    Just one thing needs to get off that throbbing thing behind those fleshy parts you so often see:
    From such an inspired and energetic author, I had expected a different Twitter Profile Picture. Not such a 'plain Joe' picture with a slightly out-dated low res feel to it,

    Perhaps your next one will have some more 'you're a tiger' feel to it. Or wait, perhaps a more 'creative' feel to it.
    Go ahead, be creative!

  • by Gracious Store Wed Sep 11, 2013 via web

    Good for you! You have had a good handle on twitter and you are achieving your set goals through it.

  • by Albert Huberts Sat Sep 14, 2013 via web

    I collect and categorize twitter avatars (profile pictures) and display them on my website I enjoyed reading your article and discovering that several of your examples are also on my website. See for instance:

    I lack confidence:
    I'm married:
    I'm only half here:

MarketingProfs uses single
sign-on with Facebook, Twitter, Google and others to make subscribing and signing in easier for you. That's it, and nothing more! Rest assured that MarketingProfs: Your data is secure with MarketingProfs SocialSafe!