Earlier this week Twitter announced that it was experimenting with ways to offer a more relevant collection of Tweets as soon as you log in or use their app. The change is about making an immediate impression—offering the most relevant content from the outset, whether you use Twitter for five minutes or five hours in a day. The social network is also looking at providing “an instant, personalized timeline for new users” who may not want to invest the time and effort to create one themselves. Again, it’s all about that first impression.
On social media, like any medium, the first impression is absolutely fundamental to success. For Twitter, the first impression impacts whether users stick around and keep using the tool or app. For individual users, the first impression you provide on social media may impact whether someone follows you, watches your whole video, clicks through to your website, or even hires you in the first place.
The Science Behind First Impressions
Once first impressions are made, they are extremely hard to change, even when people are presented with facts that disprove their first impressions. On social media, people probably give you even less time to make an impact than they would if you were meeting in person. You need to strike a chord, and fast.
Let’s look at social video as an example. Research has shown that 15-second videos prompt the highest click-through rates, yet most videos are closer to two or three minutes. Wistia has also collected data that illustrates that the first 30 seconds of a social video is what matters to a viewer. If you can get people hooked in those 30 seconds, they’ll stick around for the entire video. So first impressions are the difference between a viral video and a flop.
Tips for Making a Good First Impression on Social Media
The first impression you make on social media will really depend on your intended audience and the purpose of your social networks. Each social profile you or your business has should have a mission statement. Consider what first impression would help you meet your mission. Then work on your profiles to make sure that is actually the impression you’re giving off.
Here are a few more tips on how to make a good first impression on social media:
Open up an incognito window and Google yourself. See which social networks appear on the top of the list and what information appears in those listings. If they’re the social networks you want people to see, make sure the information is accurate and relevant. Hone that SEO. If the first few search results aren’t relevant professionally or not up to date, get to work. People searching for you will rarely skip the first results, so its important that these networks provide a strong first impression.
Make sure the private stays private
If you were to do a Google search for “Evan LePage Facebook,” or simply search my name on Facebook, you wouldn’t come across my actual Facebook profile. This isn’t because of bad SEO or the popularity of my name (I think there are 7 or 8 of us worldwide), but rather an intentional effort on my part to keep that profile private.
For me, Facebook is still a place where I share personal news, inside jokes and talk a lot about hockey. These aren’t things that are very relevant to the general public, nor are they things I want to shape how people perceive me at first glance (the hockey statuses get particularly heated at times). So, I’ve taken steps to ensure the privacy of that Facebook account; first and foremost, slightly changing my name.
If you have an account that fits a similar mold—a profile that wouldn’t form a great first impression for an interested follower, customer or potential employer—take the required steps to make that account private. Doing so will help ensure that your professional accounts get more traction and more views. It will also help those searching to formulate a more accurate first impression of you, or at least the professional version of yourself.
Make Social Media Accounts Visually Appealing
Whether you’re an individual or a business, the visuals on your social profiles matter. We may not like the idea of people “judging a book by its cover,” but on social media, where there is so much content to look through, this is absolutely how most people operate. They choose things that stand out from the pack. Since the visual aspects of your social media accounts are the first thing people see, they have a major impact on their first impression of you or your brand.
Your profile photo not only appears on your profile, but beside your name in search results on most networks—where most first impressions are formed. Research has suggested that people will draw inferences about you within 100 milliseconds of seeing your face and that those first impressions only strengthen with time. Your facial traits (you can’t really change) and facial expressions (you can change) also have a big impact on these first impressions. Smiling faces are seen as more approachable and trustworthy for example, exactly the first impression you want to make on prospective clients.
Take the time to choose a profile picture that is optimized to the social network and shows you in a good light: smiling, confident, well-dressed. It could mean the difference between being followed or being passed over.
Cover photos are equally important, since they’re the largest visual a profile or brand page visitor will see. Having an eye-catching cover photo that ties back to your brand is an easy way to make a positive first impression.
Focus on the details
Think of your profile as a 6.25-second job interview. That figure, 6.25 seconds, isn’t random. That’s how long a recruiter spends looking at your resume before they decide if you’re a good fit for the job or not. Your profiles likely get the same treatment. For LinkedIn users, profiles often serve the exact same purpose. Currently, 93 per cent of hiring managers review social profiles before making a decision on a candidate.
So if you only had that small amount of time, how would you make a good impression? Take that information, and use it in your profile bio. Make sure the most valuable information is at the top. Then go on and fill out your profiles completely. If you manage to make a good first impression, you don’t want to lose them by leaving certain information out.
And no typos. They’re the easiest way to make a bad impression.
Avoid the Lulls
You never know when people are going to be visiting your social profiles. Maybe your brand receives a nice mention on a popular blog, or your social ads start to perform. It’s important that your profiles provide a good first impression whenever people decide to search for you. This means having a steady flow of high-quality content, always. If you’re a small business or an individual and you’re worried about resources, a lot of this content should be curated from other sources. Use a tool like Hootsuite’s Content Suggestion to help you find great content, and then schedule it advance. Your accounts will look active, and ready for any new visitors.
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