How Often Should You Change Your Profile Picture on Social Media?

how often should you change your profile picture

Whether you’re an individual or a business, your profile picture says a lot about you, and with most of everyone having a social media presence nowadays, it becomes even more important to keep on top of your online game and the image you portray to the world. 

But how often should you change your profile picture?

Well, truth be told, there are no definitive answers to this question, and ultimately it comes down to your personal preference, but there are a few guidelines you can follow depending on what you’re trying to achieve.

How Often Should I Change My Profile Picture?

As a good rule of thumb, you should update your profile picture every two to three years, or even more often if there’s a change in appearance. For Facebook and Instagram, updating your profile picture once or twice a year can help show current representation and keep your profile fresh. For LinkedIn, a more consistent image is beneficial unless there are significant changes in appearance or professional status. Ultimately, the key is to ensure your profile picture is a recent, accurate, and appropriate representation of yourself.

Happy girl in red

As I mentioned above, there are instances when you should update your profile picture even more often than 2 to 3 years. So what are these occasions?

When Should You Update Your Profile Picture?

  1. When you’re actively looking for a job.
  2. Whenever there’s a significant change to your style or appearance, whether that’s a haircut, weight loss or gain, or any cosmetic enhancements.
  3. When you get promoted or advance in your career, or have a change of career.
  4. When there’s a significant event happening in your life, like getting married or having a baby.
  5. When your profile picture no longer represents you.
  6. When you’re just tired of seeing the same picture of you.

Changing your profile picture every two to three years is a necessity, but you can definitely do it more often than that, and it’s probably a good idea that you do. A general guideline on how often you should change your profile picture is to just do it a few times a year or whenever something important happens in your life or you have a specific goal in mind, like finding a job. Having a professional-looking profile picture that represents you is extremely important when you’re looking for a job because you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and the same rule applies to dating.

Some people like to change their profile picture every week or month, but that can get a little excessive and give people the impression that you’re a little too self-absorbed. The beginning of a new year is the best time to change your profile picture to start every year fresh and ride the “new year, new you” train, but if you want to do it more often, you can change your profile pic every season. Four times a year should be more than plenty to show people you are active on social media. 

How about different types of social media? 

How often should you change your profile picture on Instagram? How often should you change your profile picture on Facebook, etc.?

At least once a year is a good rule for any type of social media network. A survey published a few years ago showed that people change their profile pics more frequently (every 2-3 weeks) on dating apps like Grindr and Tinder, while Instagram and Facebook users change theirs only 5 to 6 months, and even more rarely on Twitter and LinkedIn, 1.8 years and 2.1 years, respectively. 

The main reason quoted for an infrequent change of profile pictures was that people struggled to find pictures of themselves they liked, so that’s one thing to keep in mind. 

Maybe every once in a while you could schedule a photo session with a friend who likes taking photos, and you could return the service. Selfies are rarely a good option, especially when it comes to more professional networks like LinkedIn, and finding a good picture of yourself from randomly taken photos is quite hard, so asking for someone else’s help is a good idea.

How about any limitations? How often can you change your profile picture on Instagram and Facebook?

There are no limitations to how often you can change your profile picture on Instagram and Facebook. You can do it as often as you like — daily, once a year, once a month, whenever you feel like it. 

Does Instagram notify people when you change your profile picture?

Although owned by Facebook, Instagram does not notify your followers when you change your profile picture. So although changing your profile picture more often might be a good marketing strategy for Facebook and LinkedIn, there’s no point in trying that on Instagram, as changes you make to your profile picture will not show up in anyone’s feed. 

If you want to learn how to take a successful profile picture, take a look at this cool research analyzing 1,000 images of faces to help determine the facial features and tics that help make a good impression. 

Changing Profile Picture Psychology

Changing Profile Picture Psychology

And speaking of cool research, the psychology behind changing your profile picture is very interesting. In 2016, a study analyzing the profile pics of 66,000 Twitter users found that the type of photo chosen, as well as its quality and style, said a lot about someone’s personality.

These were the key findings from the study:

  1. Openness:
    • Users with high openness tend to have profile images other than faces, indicating non-conformance.
    • Their photos often reflect better aesthetic quality: higher contrast, sharpness, and saturation, with less blur. Yet, they are less colorful and show less emotion.
    • Photos tend to be grayscale, suggesting an artistic quality.
    • Facial presentations hint these users might wear reading glasses but not sunglasses. A larger face is often present in their photos.
    • Negative emotions, especially anger, dominate their facial expressions. Positive emotions like joy are less prevalent.
  2. Conscientiousness:
    • These users prefer profile images with faces, specifically with just one face.
    • Their images are colorful, bright, and natural but not necessarily sharp.
    • They might not adhere to photographic guidelines like the rule of thirds.
    • There is a correlation with the predicted age, suggesting they may prefer photos making them look older.
    • Facial expressions are positive, with a strong presence of emotions like joy and smiling, and a reduced display of negative emotions.
  3. Extraversion:
    • Extraverts have colorful profile images.
    • They show a preference for images with multiple people.
    • The profile images may contain younger faces.
    • There’s a negative correlation with displaying reading glasses.
    • While they display positive emotions, it’s weaker compared to conscientious individuals.
  4. Agreeableness:
    • Users high in agreeableness prefer images with faces.
    • Their images are colorful and bright but might be less sharp, and possibly cluttered.
    • They largely display positive emotions like joy and smiling.
    • Their images, while emotive and bright, may not be the most aesthetically pleasing.
  5. Neuroticism:
    • Neurotic individuals tend to have simpler, less colorful profile images that don’t adhere to photographic norms like the rule of thirds.
    • Unlike those high in openness, neurotic people’s images lack distinctive aesthetic features.
    • They tend to avoid displaying faces; when present, faces are larger and often feature reading glasses.
    • Emotionally, their images lean towards neutrality and are predominantly unexpressive, with an undercurrent of negative emotions.
    • In terms of facial emotion patterns, neuroticism aligns more closely with openness than with other traits.

The study offers a novel perspective on how personality traits influence the choice and style of profile photos on social media. It underscores the value of using interpretable features to understand social media behavior and adds depth to the existing literature on digital psychology.

And speaking of digital psychology, life coach and psychologist Francesca Tighinean, who shares psychology tips on TikTok, posted a series of popular TikToks where she dives into what profile pictures say about personality. Some of her advice matches the findings in the study mentioned above, but she also offers other interpretations and a fresh perspective on the subject.

Here are the key insights from Coach Francesca’s TikToks on what your profile pic says about you:

  1. Group Photos Indicate Extroversion:
    • Extroverts often choose vibrant group photos.
    • This choice stems from their comfort in group settings and an extensive social network.
    • Such photos might show them at events like festivals or concerts.
  2. Sexy Photos Can Hint at Inferiority Complex:
    • Overly sensual photos might indicate the individual’s need to overcompensate for not feeling adequate.
  3. Profile Picture Changes Reflect Insecurity:
    • Frequently changing profile photos can suggest a lack of strong identity, a need for external validation, or trying to get attention.
    • Such changes might also indicate emotional turbulence or feelings of betrayal.
  4. Couple Photos Indicate Dependency:
    • Choosing pictures with a partner might suggest heavy reliance on them or viewing the partner as a core part of one’s identity.
    • People with anxious attachment styles might post more couple pictures.
  5. Empathy is Reflected in Pictures with Kids or Animals:
    • Men often choose such pictures as a mating strategy.
    • Such choices can make them appear less intimidating on dating apps, leading to more successful matches.
  6. Profile Picture Angles and Ego:
    • Photos where one is looking down convey dominance and possibly a large ego.
    • Pictures where one is looking up convey submissiveness. Women often adopt this angle as a mating strategy.

On that note, if you’re interested in changing your profile picture to get attention, you can post photos with kids or animals if you’re a man to show you’re an empath, or if you’re a woman, you can post pictures of yourself looking up to show submissiveness and possibly attract more mates.

Man and cat in nature

How Often Should You Change Your Profile Picture As a Business?

It’s important to stay relevant, but don’t go nuts changing your business’s social media profile pictures all the time. While once every month or two is a good goal, once a week is too much. It will make your company appear indecisive, suffering from the social-media equivalent of attention deficit disorder. A good rule of thumb is to limit yourself to changing your profile picture only when you have a really good reason, like:

  1. With the change of seasons

Nothing screams “we don’t update very often” like a Facebook page with the same art month after month, year after year. If you like your avatar too much to change it frequently, why not give it some seasonal flair? There are apps that will add a Santa hat to your Facebook profile picture, giving you an “of the times” feel even if you never reference Christmas in your updates.

Use similar ideas for other holidays. Incorporate a heart into your Twitter profile pic around Valentine’s Day. Add a shamrock for St. Patrick’s Day. Dot it with red, white, and blue for July Fourth. You get the idea. This shows that there is a real person behind your social media feeds, which makes your business seem more trustworthy and more personal, a great asset when trying to woo customers.

  1. To reflect a change in direction or a new mission

Say your company started out renting Caterpillar equipment, but now you’ve broadened your offerings to include other types of heavy machinery. Your old profile pictures with the Caterpillar logo might not be the best way to sell your company anymore.

Every few months, take a look at your social media profile pictures and ask yourself if they reflect your company’s mission. If you are moving into new areas or providing new services, change your profile pics to reflect that. It always gets attention when you change a picture, and you may engage your customers into asking why, giving you a chance to share your newest offerings.

  1. To show support for a good cause or tragic event

When there’s an important event or movement happening in the world, you can show your support by temporarily changing your profile picture with a symbol. That way, everyone will know where your company stands on that subject and you don’t risk getting backlash for not supporting certain causes that are popular at the moment. Of course, it goes without saying, don’t support causes you don’t believe in just out of fear of getting canceled. 

  1. To show off new product photos

Or whenever you have news or there’s something else important happening in your company.

In conclusion, you have to change your profile picture to stay relevant, but don’t overdo it!

Staying fresh and relevant on social media is especially important when you own a business, and changing your profile picture more often is part of that. It shows your audience that you’re current with technology, so don’t be afraid to refresh your brand image every once in a while.

And speaking of staying fresh on social media, one common reason people fail at social media is the lack of being consistent and organized, but it’s hard to do so without some extra help. Check out our social media management tool comparison article, see what worked for other people, and pick your winner!

See also: What is the best and funny status for Facebook?