Twitter accounts with a profile picture have ten times the number of followers as those without. This finding comes from an analysis of 9 million Twitter account by HubSpot using their TwitterGrader tool. Accounts with a profile picture have an average of over 250 followers; those without a profile picture have an average of about 25.
This graphic is striking and shows clearly the impact that having a profile picture has on the number of people that engage with you by following your Twitter account. There are probably a number of reasons for this and no doubt some are structural. People who are actively using their Twitter account are probably more likely to set a profile picture, so increased followers and increased tendency to have a profile picture could both be caused by the likelihood of people to be active on Twitter. But it is clear the impact that uploading a photo can have and at FreshNetworks we see similar behaviour when we are building online communities.
Twitter, like all online communities, is a great place to connect and share information with people who have similar interests, questions, goals or aims as you. Regardless of whether you know them or not. People connect on content and information and not on any connections they might have had beforehand. In this environment it is important to think of ways that you can build credibility and authenticity. How can I know that somebody I am talking to on Twitter is actually a real person and that I trust and value the information they share with me? Well the information itself is certainly important, but adding a profile picture (even if it just an avatar that reflects your personality but not your image) can help to build this connection. In online communities you are not necessarily looking to become friends with people with whom you exchange information but you do want to know that they are real. Pictures can help here both for what they show but also because they mean that somebody has been to the effort of uploading an image to represent them online.
For brands looking to engage people online using Twitter, this highlights how critical having a profile picture is. Whether you are Tweeting from a corporate branded account or from a personal account, upload a profile picture if you want people to really engage with you and the information you are sharing in social media.