Indeed, it's all about the visuals. Photos are proven click- and like-bait; Facebook has put images front and center on its Web, mobile and Home editions; Pinterest is all about images; and now even LinkedIn is getting in on it by adding the ability to dress up profiles with visual content.
"For the first time, you will now have the ability to showcase your unique professional story using rich, visual content on your LinkedIn profile," said LinkedIn's Udi Milo in a blog post. "This means you can illustrate your greatest achievements in the form of stunning images, compelling videos, innovative presentations and more. From the analyst who makes annual predictions on tech trends to the 3-D animator who is looking to fund a new short film, the opportunities are limitless for how professionals can now use the LinkedIn profile to help showcase these unique stories in a visual way."
[ Do you use LinkedIn's contact management system? Read LinkedIn Contacts: 5 Must-Know Facts. ]
Here are five things you need to know about the new capabilities.
1. Visuals are more than just photos.
Your profile can be illustrated with not just photos, but also videos, presentations and other types of graphics.
2. It's easy to get started.
To add images to your profile, just click Edit and follow the prompts for the Summary, Experience and Education sections.
3. It's not all about you.
Once you have added visuals to your profile, other LinkedIn members can like or comment on what you've added. Likewise, you can like or comment on what your contacts have posted. This adds a whole new level of collaboration -- and opportunities for connection -- to LinkedIn.
4. Visuals add to social slip-up risk.
There are many ways that you can mess up on social networks, and LinkedIn's visual profiles are yet another. You need to take care with what you do or say on any social network, but this is especially true on LinkedIn because your contacts are likely all in your professional circle (where social missteps may have big, and potentially expensive, consequences). In some ways, this makes it easier to decide what to include -- there's no question, for example, that you should not post those vacation photos that show you in various stages of scantily clad-ness -- but you will have to think about things like competitive issues and walking that fine line between branding and showing off.
5. You can't opt out.
Well, you can elect not to implement visuals on your profile. In fact, it's opt in, not opt out. With that said, if you aren't tooting your own horn on your profile, someone else will be tooting his. That someone else may be looking for the same job or contact as you. Or a recruiter might be looking for someone with a skill set that you share with many other people. In both of these cases, and potentially many more, the visuals that you include in your profile may provide competitive edge.
Will you be adding visuals to your profile? What specifically? Are there any downsides to visuals? Please let us know in the comments section below.
Follow Deb Donston-Miller on Twitter at @debdonston.