PhotoFeeler - How I improved my likability by 69%

In this post I'm going to show how you can use PhotoFeeler to power up your first impressions, as well as take a little sidetrack on the "self-acceptance gap".

To start with, I'm going to put myself out there a little. This is the picture I've been using as my online profile for several months now and I decided to use PhotoFeeler to understand what kind of first impression I was giving. As someone who spends a lot of time thinking about personal branding, I had a nagging problem with it so I decided to use PhotoFeeler to test it against another shot with a bigger smile.


There's a very specific reason I'd been using one with a smaller smile. I think I have a goofy smile and I rarely like pictures of me smiling. I was falling victim to what is known as the "self-acceptance gap". According to researchers from the Psychology and Human Behaviour Department of USC, "Photographs really cause us to focus on the gap between the true self and the idealized self".

That's EXACTLY what I was doing here. I was hiding my smile and if I'm being honest, I liked looking a little more badass. Most guys want to look a little badass right? This was me focusing on an idealized self versus my true self. No one else out there is looking at me and thinking I look goofy when I smile so why am I?


Using PhotoFeeler you can upload an image and give it some context by selecting "Business" and then providing a professional title. Then users rate it on three metrics. Here are the results from my two images and the data supported the nagging feeling I had.

While the smaller smile shot tested as looking generally competent and influential, it tanked on likability. As someone who is laughing non-stop while shooting headshots this is a problem for me as the image doesn't accurately portray me or the experience of working with me. If I was a hard-charging international trade negotiator or trial lawyer it may work well, but that's not me.


The shot with the larger smile is taking advantage of the fact that as humans we're suckers for a genuine smile. Not only did it drive my likability through the roof, it also brought competency and influence along for the ride.  I'm not saying small smiles are bad, they can actually be part of really interesting images that get a lot of attention and create curiosity/interest, but you have to also think about how the image matches you and the first impression you want to provide.


Here's another example for a client I shot recently. The first image was his LinkedIn profile picture when I got my hands on him. As you can see from the scores, its creating a terrible first impression.

When someone is deciding to hire him, work with him or buy from him, having single digit scores for competency or influence is going to hurt his opportunities significantly. (If you don't think people are looking you up on LinkedIn before meeting you, you're not living in reality)


The other two shots generally mimic the type of results I saw in the tests of my own profile pictures. The larger smile drives more likability and brings competency and influence along with it. In this case even the smaller smile does respectably on likability but appears more influential due to the power portrayed in the image with the confident expression. Regardless of which shot he uses, his profile picture is now a first impression machine that’s working for him rather than against him.


When I work with you to update your visual brand, these are the conversations we're going to have. I want to get to know who you are, what your role is, and what kind of first impression you're looking to deliver. Then we'll work to get that out of you while having some fun along the way.


If you want to try PhotoFeeler for yourself its free. All you have to do is submit an image then vote on other images to earn votes on yours. You can pay for votes to speed up the process if you like but its easy to build what they call "karma" periodically on your phone while waiting for a coffee to brew or while watching TV. I definitely recommend getting a read on what kind of first impressions you're creating.