The Agent Face in Facebook

NaypongEstablishing a well-branded Facebook account is an important step for a social-media savvy agent. In this article, we’ll look at the importance of photos and personal branding on Facebook.

The importance of Facebook profile photos

A good photo is one of the most important aspects of your Facebook profile. It helps prospects feel like already they know you. Be very careful about the headshot you choose, though. Do not use a glossy professional shot on your personal Facebook account! This is a sure way to have your friend requests ignored.

Facebook is divided into two separate camps. The first, the personal Facebook account, is where you will make the most connections and the most useful connections. The second, Pages, is where Facebook and the rest of the world will come to you for business. Facebook and its users want to keep blatant business out of personal accounts.

However, many people promote their businesses through their personal Facebook accounts. Facebook knows this and they have a lengthy profile section designed to capitalize on using personal account information for targeted marketing. Eventually the two Facebooks (personal and Pages) will co-mingle. Friends will migrate to your Pages account, and business connections will become friends. However, in the beginning, it is a good idea to distinguish between the two. One of the easiest ways to ddo this is through your headshot. Use a professional, formal headshot on Pages and use an equally good but more casual image on your personal account. This will immediately distinguish the two accounts for your “friends.”

Inspiring clout in headshots

A good photo is one that a) looks like you and b) looks like someone who is confident and happy. Photos should be clear, lighting should be good and resolution should be high (at least 72 dpi). The best photos are the ones where you are looking straight into the camera and smiling. Sticking the head forward and down slightly (like a turtle) can help erase wrinkles and double chins. Smile! Have the photographer give you a variety of digital photos in different shapes, resolutions and sizes for your portfolio.

To get a great headshot, it is critical to feel a sense of rapport with the photographer. Get to know the photographer before you hire him/her and make sure you like the photos in their portfolio.

Prepare for the photo shoot. Sleep well, dress well and have hair and makeup looking their best. Men, should shave (unless you’re Brad Pitt). Wear a complimentary color and avoid distracting clothing and accessories.

Branding your image

Branding is what distinguishs one product from another. It’s what has turned products like Nike into multi-million dollar businesses. Personal branding for agents is equally important.

To create your brand, combine the sum total of your experience, education, personality, beliefs and interests. Remember, this isn’t actually you; it’s the branded you. Celebrities and politicians do this all the time. Successful personal branding is directly related to how closely the brand image correlates with the real person. In other words a branding bait and switch (like Tiger Woods) doesn’t go over very well. Instead, broadcast the best, most unique qualities about yourself and your business. Sit down and write down all the reasons a client should choose you over another agent. Then, turn those characteristics into positive brand characteristics to attract clients. Most agents have education and experience. Everyone has training. In this industry, personal branding needs to also incorporate unique personality traits and interests.

For example, an agent I know is extremely good at tennis. He plays tennis regularly, competes in tournaments and goes to the U.S. Open whenever he can. Part of this agent’s brand is his love for tennis. It’s an easy thing to promote because it’s a central part of who he is. It is also something through which he builds many friends and connections. Ultimately, tennis is something that brings him a good deal of business.

One of the most successful personal branding stories in the financial services industry is Suze Orman. While people rightfully have differing views on her skill as an advisor, her branding is flawless because it capitalizes on her talents and offers a unique value proposition.

To get a more detailed understanding of personal branding and how you can apply this to your Facebook profile, visit Dan Schawbel’s personal branding blog. The Contributors Page is particularly helpful for seeing good photos and self-promotion in action.

by Lisa Pluth for LifeHealthPro.com

Lisa Pluth, PhD is Brand Manager for Shealthinsurance.com, a leading online health insurance resource.

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