What First Impressions Do People Have Of You On Social Media?

January 10, 2017By

Yummy RestaurantFirst impressions are incredibly important.

It may seem like a first impression shouldn’t be that important, but it’s reality.

We come from a long line of humans and in the cave days humans needed to make snap decisions. It was critical to know instantly if the creature running at you was a cougar or a bunny. Make the wrong choice and you’re dead.

So it’s human nature to make snap decisions. And those first impressions can have a lasting impact on our lives.

Research has shown that people hold their first impressions in very high regard. For example, if you form an impression about someone after a short face-to-face meeting, it will likely remain your impression even in the face of facts that go against that impression.

Over some time the facts do change minds, but it doesn’t happen as quickly as you might think.

First Impressions On Social Media

Social media has become a big part of our lives.

Facebook has over 1 billion daily users. That’s pretty incredible. But it shows that social media is a vital part of our world today. It’s how we connect with people we know. It’s how we meet new people and it’ show we interact with those folks.

The key part with social media in the context of first impressions is obviously the idea of meeting new people. Whether you’re using social media to make new connections for work or for your personal life or if you’re promoting some kind of business, it’s important to make the right kind of first impression.

How People Form Impressions Online

Meeting people is obviously different online than in person.

Online, people are more likely to pay attention to traditional things. It’s been found that men typically pay more attention to attractiveness while women focus on earning power or the ability to provide. That’s in a dating situation, but you can see how it may work in a business setting too.

When someone sees your online profiles they’ll be analyzing the details to determine if you’re a good potential business partner. They’ll be looking for cues about your earning power, your trustworthiness, your reliability and more.

In person, people have more information to go on. They focus more on how they’re feeling. More of a gut instinct as some might say. Attractiveness comes into play, but so does body language and all the other senses.

Let’s look at a few tips for making a good impression online.

Tip #1. Your Photo

All of this information is coming from that research linked above including this part about the importance of a photo:

Zayas’ new research shows that initial impressions based on viewing a single photograph accurately predict how a person will feel about the other person in a live interaction that takes place more than 1 month later. “Moreover, participants’ initial judgments based on the photograph colored personality judgments following the interaction,” Zayas says. “The results showed that initial liking judgments based on a photograph remained unchanged even after obtaining more information about a person via an actual live interaction.”

That’s pretty crazy, but it seems true. When I think about scrolling through social media the first thing I really do look at in many instances is the photo. You don’t have all your senses in an online setting so you use what you have. That includes mostly sight and in some cases maybe sound. But that’s about it.

With that in mind, the photo might be the most important element of your social media existence.

Yet what do most of us do?

We crop a photo that someone took of us at the New Year’s party or from the office party. It might be a little out of focus. The lighting might make us look a little off. All kinds of things can go wrong.

A good way to improve your photo is to scroll through social media, Facebook or LinkedIn or whatever, and see what first impressions you get. Look for the photos that leave the best impressions and pay a professional photographer to help you create that kind of photo.

Usually it’ll be something in a professional setting. You’ll usually be smiling. You’ll be dressed in clothes that fit you. All those little things make a difference.

Tip #2. Professional Language

If you’re looking to improve your business situation or your professional situation then it’s important to treat social media mostly like a series of first impressions…because it is.

It can feel at times like you’re always interacting with the same people. And as you get more comfortable with people you let your guard down a bit. You may use different language and things like that. You may be a little less professional. You may tell different stories or share different viewpoints.

It’s easy to do this on social media because it feels like we’re only talking with our close friends. But on social media, everything is public. And you’re making first impressions with a lot of people and a lot of potential colleagues, partners, clients and more.

So a good rule is to use professional language. It’s important to treat every update on social media, as well as your profile information, as if you’re meeting someone for the first time.

Think about your interactions with new people. You present your best self. On social media you want to strive to always present the best version of yourself so you can make the best first impression possible.

Tip #3. It’s About The Other Person

One final tip here is that it’s never all about you in life or on social media. When you’re sharing an update about your life or if you’re sharing an article or retweeting something always think about what it means to other people.

When sharing an update, try to see the world through the eyes of the people you’re trying to connect with. Ask more questions. Use social media to learn more about people and put your audience before yourself. That’s the best way to use social media. It’s really a good way to make good first impressions in real life.

People like when others pay attention to them and show interest in their lives. Making a good first impression on social media can be as easy as putting the other person first.

Final Thought

When we have an issue with first impressions it’s easy to fall back on the line of thinking that we’re like fine wine…we get better with age. The more you get to know us the more you’ll like us.

But if a potential valuable relationship never gets past the first interaction then what’s the point?

First impressions are important for getting the most out of life. If life is about relationships and the way we form relationships today are with social media then we want to form good first impressions online.

Use the tips above and look over how you’re using social media. Make a few changes and it can lead to an overall better experience.