Clean PFP – Social Media Profile Picture Best Practices


So many improvements to your social media profile picture can be made in just a few minutes. In this article, we present you with the best practices to make your profile stand out and end up with a clean PFP.


Whether you just joined a new social media or just want to refresh your current profile picture, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, we will explore what makes a good profile picture. It’s the first thing people will see when you connect with someone on social media platforms.

You’ve probably seen thousands of social media profile pictures, we know we have, and it takes a split second to make an impression based on the picture. Don’t worry. You’re not the only one. Everyone does it, even subconsciously. Based on what you see, you decide if the person is likable, attractive, intelligent, cute … or the opposite. 

Whether it’s on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or anywhere else, the process is the same, someone views your picture, and probably solely based on their initial impression, they decide if they want to connect with you or not. 

How a Clean PFP Can Help

Having a good profile picture will immensely help you improve your chances and increase your following. It’s the key to your brand and online networking. It can not only impact your social life and job opportunities but it can positively impact your career as well. 

By fixing your picture, you are doing a one-time action that gives you lasting benefits. It’s good to invest the time and effort into making it look good, as it’s one of the most critical aspects of your online presence.

But don’t take our word for it. Here is what science has to say about it.


Research-Backed Elements of the Best Profile Pictures

Interestingly, there’s been a lot of research on the different elements of a profile picture for social media. We found some interesting facts and came to a few reasonable conclusions based on them. 

As mentioned before, it takes little time to draw a conclusion about people based on a photo, but since it is a little more precise, it’s actually just 40 milliseconds. 

Here’s what since showed as best practice for having the best profile picture on social media:

  1. Smile with teeth shown – This leads to gains in likability (nearly twice that of a closed-mouth smile), competence, and influence.
  2. Squinch – A squinch is a slight squint, but try to avoid wide eyes because wide eyes look fearful. If you slightly squint, you will look more comfortable and confident.
  3. Unobstructed eyes – Make sure nothing is covering your eyes because it decreases trust. 
  4. Asymmetrical composition – Not everything needs to be perfect. Fully symmetrical pictures often go overlooked because of appearing computer generated. 
  5. Jawline with a shadow –  A shadow line that outlines the jaw all the way around helps with likability, competence, and influence.
  6. Head-and-shoulders or head-to-waist photos – Generally go better than just face pictures or full-body pictures. 
  7. Dark-colored suits and light-colored button-downs – Have the greatest effect on competency and influence out of all other factors. Dress to impress. 

Best practices for profile pictures 

With science out of the way, it’s good to focus on the best practices and what actually works.

Show your face 

Even though this might be obvious, it’s the first thing to remember. Faces are a unique and powerful type of imagery. Faces leverage a cognitive bias built into our brains. That’s why it’s crucial to show your face in photos. You will appear more serious, likable, confident, and approachable. We strongly recommend against cartoon heads, dogs, babies, and other unrelated imagery in your profile photo. 

Perfect the Smile

As studies have shown, when it comes to smiles, it doesn’t matter if you represent an organization, a serious business, or yourself. A smile fits anywhere. Smiling creates an instant connection and can also de-age you and make you instantly more approachable. It’s a key success factor for a clean PFP.

This all implies that the smile is natural and not forced. If you force a smile with a wide-open mouth, it can seem creepy and like you are putting too much effort into it. That’s why it’s a good practice to look in the mirror and try a few smiles in order to perfect the one for a photo. Show your teeth. It’s much more natural, and avoid going in a full smile, try a few versions and settle on the one that looks the most approachable, friendly, and appropriate. 


Properly Frame Your Photo

Keep in mind what your photo will look like on your profile. Even if you have the perfect photo, some social media will crop it down to fit it on the profile. It’s essential to see how it’s done and make sure your photo is framed as it should be. 

Some headshots are too close to the camera others might be too far away. You will need to ensure you are adequately framed so that your face is filling up most of the picture but that there is still some background visible, not too far or too close. 

Have a clean background

You should be in focus, not the background, so try to stick with a monotone and non-distracting background. The background is also an opportunity to use contrasting colors without changing your outfit. Just use different backgrounds and see how you pop up in each one. 

Focus on good posture

Make sure that your posture is straight and that you are not slouched or bent over. This will make you appear more professional, authoritative, and confident. A good posture is a sign of strength and confidence which is very important in a professional setting.

Present your best self 

Your profile picture should contain you and you only. It’s nice to have photos of yourself with friends or colleagues. However, when it comes to profile pictures, they should feature you exclusively. 

Even if you turned out great, but you are with your friend, never decide to “cut” someone out of the picture to make your profile picture. It’s bad practice and can make you look unprofessional. Focus on yourself as you are the main point of the picture. It’s best that you are alone and presentable, have in mind that many people, potential customers, and even potential future partners might see it, so use your best one! 


Use a headshot

A headshot is a tightly cropped photo of the face from the shoulders up. And it should be your profile picture on most social media websites. Using photos of you from a vacation or adventure can be tempting, but try to stay away from them if you want to look more professional. 

Your profile picture makes a strong first impression and should be a close-up featuring your face and eyes. Make sure your face and particularly your eyes are visible. Shoulders should be visible in the picture as well. Having that in mind you should also consider your choice of clothing.

Consider what you are wearing

If you go with a photo that will show your shoulders, you have another chance of presenting yourself through fashion. But having that in mind, usually, the best practice is to have a button-down shirt or a dark-colored suit. You can go colorful to an extent. Just try not to overdo it, as it can send a wrong message.

Your clothes should complement your face and not distract from it, so it’s usually better to wear plain clothes that don’t stick out too much. Stay clear of text or big logos and settle for more plain and professional clothing. 

Stay Consistent 

Using the same profile picture on your social media profiles can be a good idea. Especially if you want to focus on your branding, as this will ensure consistent branding and help make it easier for people to recognize you when they see your profile image on social media platforms. 

AI-Generated PFPs

If you are looking for a clean PFP without a lot of effort, you can try one of the new artificial intelligence-generated solutions. These applications allow you to digitally create professional and cool PFP images by uploading your existing headshots and having AI generate different profile pictures.

Some of the popular solutions include:

The results can be pretty impressive and you can avoid hiring a professional photographer for your profile picture.
Source: – clean PFP – AI generated example

Clean PFP – Conclusion

So that’s all the tips we have for you to make the best version of your profile picture and end up with a clean pfp. Implement some of our tips and you will have amazing responses to your new avatar.

To summarize, make sure you smile with your teeth shown, use a non-invasive background, dress more formally, and straighten your posture. Eyes should be open but not fully wide. Try to squint just barely to appear more natural. Make sure nothing is in your way and look into the camera.

Consider hiring a professional for the best result. They can add some magic touch in after-effects. Test how it frames on different social media, make sure you touch up any imperfections, and that should be it.

Enjoy the attention you’ll get and share these tips with your friends.

Why Clio

Our agency works with many local companies that drive thousands of visits to their website every month using SEO best practices and strategies. We have been building websites and helping clients drive traffic to those websites since 2007. 

Clio can help you get started on your SEO journey by advising you where to focus your internet marketing efforts. We are often asked if our Calgary SEO services can make your website appear on the first page of Google. The answer is a resounding YES. 

Visit our case studies page to see how we have helped clients implement SEO best practices and unique strategies for their small businesses.

Contact Clio Websites to improve your SEO results.

About the author

Darko is a talented WordPress developer who loves to build responsive websites using Elementor. He has been with Clio Websites since 2021 and enjoys contributing WordPress articles and other types of content that our visitors love to read and share with their peers.

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