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  • Rachael Seldin, LCSW, ADV CASAC

Put Your Best Self Forward on Social Media Platforms

Updated: Mar 8

The process of staying in touch with family and friends has changed drastically over the past 20 years. There is no longer a need to memorize phone numbers. An answer to any question can be found within seconds. Items can be purchased without looking at them or testing them out in person. You have the ability to receive a degree online. Handwritten letters have been replaced by email and text. Our phones can be worn as a watch. Who knew we could even find love behind the comfort of a screen?


First impressions have never been as crucial as they are today. Within 5 seconds individuals believe they know all they need to know about a person and a judgement is made. The rapid advancement of technology has made it a prerequisite to have online profiles for jobs such as on LinkedIn, profiles for dating online such as OkCupid, and profiles for making new friends such as on Bumble BFF. Whether you are trying to make new friends, form romantic relationships and or find a new job all avenues require a minimum amount of effort.


Do you have a clear picture?


· Do the clothes you are wearing match the type social media platform you are on?

· Are your clothes and presentation portraying the person and age you want to appear as?

· Are you clearly seen on your thumbnail?

· Are there enough pictures for someone to see your whole profile?


How many times have you come across a profile picture including a group of people and you are left trying to figure out which one the profile belongs to? How about the countless shirtless pics? Or how about the over filtered pictures?


Here’s your friendly wake-up call… No one wants to have to sit for an hour and decipher what you look like. Think about what your profile is being used for. If you are looking to make intimate connections it would be appropriate to go for a more casual look in your picture. Were you at a fun event recently? Consider posting a candid of you in your element. If you are looking to make a professional network it would be more appropriate to wear clothing corresponding to the type of profession. This does not mean to go get your uniform. This does mean to consider dressing for the type of position you want. Usually, a crisp button down with no jacket is a good bet.


Leave out your “turn off” list


You probably have come across “don’t message” or “swipe left” suggestions in regards to religion, political affiliations and miscellaneous interests that don’t align with the posters. All of the sudden people have put questionnaires on their profile and if you don’t meet the criteria you are told to not bother sending a message. By creating these questionnaires, the poster believes the right person will reach out to them because they are weeding out future sources of conflict. Essentially, they will both agree on everything… Two questions you should ask yourself are 1. Am I okay with being with someone who will never push me intellectually 2. Am I okay with cutting my dating pool by say 50-75%?


Think about this. You do not need to put all of your “dos and don’ts” out there. Chances are readers will get an idea of who you are, what your personality is like and what are deal breakers from your pictures, demographics and about me section. By giving your “dos and don’ts” you are taking away the opportunity for interesting conversations and opportunities to learn and to grow as an individual. The impression often given is negative and comes across as if you have been on so many unsuccessful dates that you can’t waste any time.


To improve your likeability, it would behoove you to emphasize your best characteristics. Tell others about your best attributes, interests and goals. Where are you in life? What type of relationship are you looking for? What makes you a good friend? Is there anything that you can work on? Perhaps you are looking for someone to push you to travel more? Remember this isn’t a one-way looking glass. The reader needs to find something that stands out about you that is desirable as well.


Less is more


· Did you answer each section topic to the best of your ability?

· How long does it take the reader to look over your profile?

· Is the information given going to help the reader get to know you overall?


Keep It Simple Silly (KISS): When it comes to any type of social media platform it’s always better to err on the side of short and to the point. Once you get that message/response from the other person you can expand on anything you want. On a personal platform it is not necessary to expand on every relationship you ever had and why they didn’t work out. On a professional platform it is not necessary to explain why you ended a position. Give the reader an opportunity to ask you questions that are relevant to them. Depending on the type of profile it should take perhaps 1-2 minutes to read (longer for professional platforms).


To sum, readers can tell how much time and effort have been put into a profile. Too short of length and vague answers could tell the reader that this platform isn’t as important to them. Too detailed of answers could tell the reader that you’re intense or particular. Think about how much “research” you want to conduct when viewing a profile. Do you want to sift through pictures to figure out who the person is? Make sure to have clear pictures that accurately depict who you are. If you are taking the time to read this you probably don’t want to have to explain to the reader why you look different from the profile picture such as looking ten years younger. Don’t forget that these platforms aren’t only catering to you and to your needs. Think about what makes you attractive. Once you’re ready to publish your profile have someone you trust review your profile to give their impressions. If they have questions so will others. The end game is not to mislead others but rather to give them a solid idea of who you are and what matters most to you.


Please email me questions, comments or blog post ideas to heartinhandpsychotherapy@gmail.com.

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