How to Design Your Social Media Site to Fit Your Personality - dummies

How to Design Your Social Media Site to Fit Your Personality

By Janine Warner, David LaFontaine

Choose whether you want a beautiful but restrained photo for your social media design, or possibly an image that tells more about you. Throwing caution to the wind and taking the risk of using a quirky image that expresses some deep emotion takes real courage. Should you play it safe in social media or make yourself memorable?

If you’re using social media for personal reasons, you may think you can be more casual and playful. That said, many professionals choose to reveal a little more about their personal lives on Facebook than say, LinkedIn. If you’re using social media professionally, consider what you want to be known for and how to best build your reputation.

If you’re a designer or photographer, showcase your talents with a quirky or eye-catching design. If you work at a company where you want to convey to your clients that you will give them the kind of out-of-the-box thinking that doesn’t involve using clichés like “out-of-the-box thinking,” you may be best served by taking more risks and being more experimental and creative.

Serhan Koçak has produced one of the most creative Facebook cover designs — a great way to show off his talent as an art director. His memorable design has earned him a spot on a number of Best of Facebook lists around the web.

For a complicated idea, don’t be afraid to ask for a little help. Serhan asked his friend, Serdar Yilmaz, a copywriter, to help come up with the idea and take the photos. He then used Photoshop to get them positioned just right before uploading them to Facebook.

[Credit: Serhan Koçak; photos by Serdar Yilmaz]
Credit: Serhan Koçak; photos by Serdar Yilmaz

Making a composite image like this requires that you have some skill at selecting and extracting a subject in an image-editing program like Photoshop.

Here are some circumstances where you might not want to take risks with your design, and you’re probably better off sticking with a more formal social media profile design:

  • You’re just getting started. When you first start using social media, it’s a good idea to begin slowly and devote some real consideration as to how much of your private information gets revealed to the world.

  • You’re job hunting. A growing number of potential employers search social media sites when considering candidates. Don’t assume that just because you’re connected to friends and family only, your potential employer won’t find a way to view your profile. If you are looking for a new job, you want to keep your social media nose clean.

  • You’re looking for clients. If you run your own business, work as a consultant, speaker, real estate agent, or any other profession that requires you attract your own clients, make sure you create a profile that represents the quality and integrity of your business.

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  • You have a job that requires trust. You’re an attorney, an accountant, a teacher, a doctor, or someone who works at a place where security is important, such as a bank, power plant, or security firm. More than a few people have been fired from their jobs because they posted something on social media that led their employers to lose confidence in them.

If you’re a photographer whose hard drives are overflowing with beautiful, innovative images that you can adapt to a social media profile, then you can just start rummaging around through Lightroom, Aperture, or whatever photo-organizing software you use. But for the rest of us, acquiring images to achieve eye-catching designs requires a little planning and preparation.

Koçak’s design works because he planned the photo session in advance, and carefully staged and shot two pictures he could then combine. First, he had his friend Serdar Yilmaz photograph him loosely clenching his fist and looking down at the imaginary space below it.

[Credit: Serhan Koçak; photos by Serdar Yilmaz]
Credit: Serhan Koçak; photos by Serdar Yilmaz

Then he had his friend take a picture of him standing on his right foot, with his hands thrown up in the air, and head cocked to the side.

Before he combined the two images in Photoshop, he cropped out the background and turned the photo of him standing on one foot upside down.

[Credit: Serhan Koçak; photos by Serdar Yilmaz]
Credit: Serhan Koçak; photos by Serdar Yilmaz

What makes this Facebook design work so well is that Serhan had a clear vision before he started. He took two relatively easy-to-capture photos and then made a few minor adjustments in Photoshop, like rotating the smaller image 180 degrees. The final effect, works so well because the two images look convincing together.

[Credit: Serhan Koçak; photos by Serdar Yilmaz]
Credit: Serhan Koçak; photos by Serdar Yilmaz

When shooting photos to achieve a special composite, be sure to capture a variety of poses and expressions. The more choices you have when it comes time to edit, extract, and combine photos, the less risk you run of having to go back and reshoot the entire thing.

Another quirky combination is demonstrated where Sune Adler Miltersen seems to be cowering from a giant cat. This is a slightly simpler photo composite, achieved by taking a close-up of a pouncing cat, and then using a funny mugshot of Sune looking up and to his left to create the illusion.

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Choosing a single-color background when you shoot your photos to use in a special-effect profile makes it easier to extract your subject.

In her Facebook design, Rachel Brenke showcases her specialized talent for helping creative professionals with everything from basic legal permission forms to more serious matters.

Rachel Brenke is a photographer and an attorney, and her inviting pose in her photos gives her Facebook profile a warm and friendly feeling. Using both color and black-and-white images gives the design a creative touch.

[Credit: Rachel Brenke]
Credit: Rachel Brenke