First Impressions, Online, Matter

by DJ Waldow on October 28, 2011 · 18 comments

DJ Waldow AvatarRemember the old Head & Shoulders commercials from the 80s? You know, the ones that end with “You never get a 2nd chance to make a 1st impression” (here’s a 30-second one).

Fast forward to 2011.

The first impression concept still applies. However, now many of those first impressions happen online. People pass judgment – for good or bad – based on what you do, what you say, how you look, and overall how you represent yourself online. This can be in the form of blog posts (like this one), Tweets, Facebook status updates, LinkedIn profiles, Google+ threads, etc.

When was the last time that you Googled your name (here is mine)? While it may seem vain, it’s always important to see how your online profile is being viewed by others. How about your last few dozen tweets or Facebook posts? Do you like what you see? Is there anything there that you (or your mom) would not be proud of? Is there anything that could get you in trouble with your employer, clients or even future employer?


Building on this concept, what about your profile picture? The one thing nearly all social media sites - Twitter, Facebook, & LinkedIn, etc – have in common is the ability to upload a profile picture (avatar). These avatars are normally quite small. In fact, on Twitter, your avatar is reduced to a 48×48 pixel image. That’s not a lot of real estate to make that first impression! Additionally, when speaking – virtually or in person – you normally have to submit a headshot (avatar). How you represent yourself online, specifically your profile picture, matters. I blogged about this a few months ago – Does Your Profile Picture Matter? – and I still believe it applies today.

I’ve had the same profile picture for 16 months (this one) – as my avatar on all social media sites, as a slide on all presentations, as part of all online & offline collateral for events that I’ve spoken at. I think that this picture is a very much in alignment with who I am. It’s served me well, so to speak. However, it was time for a change. My friend Jason Keath told me that while it represented me perfectly, it was not really that easy to see my face. It didn’t “fit” well in the 48×48 pixel online world. He had a point.

So, I Bring You…

my new avatar. In case you missed it, it’s the picture at the top right of this post. In an effort to make this post not 100% about me (ha!), I want to prove what I mean by “profile pictures matter.” Everyone has an opinion, right? Below is a sampling of the feedback I received – both on Twitter and Facebook:


Good…in the small pic. A little scary up close. Kinda serial killer-ish.

DJ, this photo is totally you. As I told K-Dawg over lunch while she was in Madison, your defining attribute is your relentless enthusiasm in people and life itself — and this image captures it without question.

You look like you JUST hid the body someplace we’ll never find.

Great pic

Bring back the mug shot!

I love that photo of you.

Gonna take some time to recognize the new @djwaldow avatar. I’m used to him jumping out at me everywhere (kinda like real life).

Like the new avatar. Faces are best, dude!

whoa. new avatar???

Look who’s rocking a new avatar.

Nice pic, but I already miss the old one. Looking forward to the story behind the change in your blog post.

Now to be clear (& fair), all of these comments came from friends, family, and acquaintances – all people who know me, most of whom I’ve met face to face. Technically, this was not my first impression. However, the point is that how you represent yourself online does matter. Some people love it. Others, not so much. Either way, this photo is now my official “first (online) impression.”

What are your thoughts? Much ado about nothing or does your profile picture – and overall first impression online – really make a difference?

*By the way, the photo was taken by my friend – and fellow SLC’er – Kelli Bramble. She rocks. Connect with Kelli. Book her to do a photo shoot for you. Today. Now.

DJ Waldow

SEO in Chennai
SEO in Chennai

Hey Waldow, thanks for the Head & Shoulders commercials, oldies & goldies!


This is so true! Your first look really counts.. There are so many Facebook user that send friend request to the beautiful and handsome one..

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Profile picture can really affect the first impression in social media. Thanks for the info, I am guilty not having my own photo here...

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I really like this article. You give really good tips and also great examples. Like the new profile picture btw ;) Keep on the good work!

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Loooove the new photo.....great move.

Maile Keone
Maile Keone

Love your new profile pic! Great first impression. :)


I think your former avatar represented you and the work you did very well. You were the "community guy" for a hip tech company.

Now, you're trying to get people -- including those representing large organizations -- to write *you* a check. Something more professional, but still personable and approachable, was more appropriate.

(I was actually going to make a comment like this via Twitter the other day when I saw the avatar switch.)

djwaldow moderator

Thanks, @sue_anne ! Appreciate the validation. That was EXACTLY what I was going for with the avatar switch!


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