How Your Twitter Profile Picture Influences Your Follower Count

Earlier this year, I switched my Twitter profile picture from the lady you see on top of the blog to a picture of myself. I thought, hey, this is my blog, why not use my face as an avatar? Until last month, I never questioned the effect that this would have on my Twitter follower count, but I should have. In mid October, I realized that in the past year the number of new followers I was getting daily dropped by about 60 or 70%, so I decided to start experimenting with various profile pics, and boy was I shocked by what happened. This was my profile picture for most of the past year:


I then asked my friend Liz Katz if I could use the picture featuring her wearing one of our shirts (which is available via our online store,) and being the super nice person that she is, she said yes. Here’s the picture:


Then, I switched back to the initial profile pic I had for many years:


I then used Twitter Counter to observe the effect that each change brought to my account.


I used almost 2 months of data for the graph, and the effect is fairly conclusive. For most of the past year all I got is around 8 new followers per day. When I switched my Twitter avatar to Liz’s picture, it jumped to 27 new followers per day, and when I changed it back to the lady on top of the blog, it dropped to around 20. It is important to note that most of the tweets that I send are automatically generated are are posted each time a post appears on the blog.

The conclusion? Your Twitter profile picture has a huge influence on the number of new followers you get daily. If you’re really serious about having more followers on Twitter, the right picture could make a night and day difference for you or your business.

Thoughts? :)

[Geeks are Sexy on Twitter]


23 Responses to How Your Twitter Profile Picture Influences Your Follower Count

  1. I think it is an affect of your “logo”, the iconic office desk chair sexy lady picture identifies Geeks Are Sexy.

    Think of it like this, I search for a viral video on YouTube, I see copies of the one I want. I don’t watch those. I try and look for the original.

    So using those different picture for Geeks are Sexy did not make us recognize it is the “official” Geeks are Sexy twitter account.

    • He’d have to stage the picture himself, since the “sensual woman in black and red dress sitting on a black chair and writing on the computer” is a stock image (she’s also been pictured in an almost identical pose wearing a grey dress and black shoes rather than the red top and skirt)..

  2. There was an article a read a while back about inherent trust, not to mention attraction, when people use female pictures for their avatars. Kind of sucks if you’re a guy but it’s pretty clearly the case. If you want a good example just look on online discussion forums. Users with attractive female pictures, even when they’re clearly not legitimate, get many times the comments on questions and dialog.

  3. I think I’d rather use a more honest image (like one of myself or of the logo for my site) than one that’s so grossly clickbait.

  4. I guess if the goal is purely increasing your followers, likely to increase revenue and you feel guys are your target demographic, then… yes, the centuries old proof that females make great advertising. But if you care about who you are attracting as your followers, then I would go with honestly instead for personal accounts. But in this case, it’s an interest based twitter account and as such, most people in general are used to and have come to expect an avatar that is related to the interest which doesn’t have to be a photo of a person at all. Given the name of this blog, I think the avatar is fitting vs a photo of the editor alone. I follow this blog because of the content, not because of the logo.

  5. I think even the name of Geeks are Sexy has a certain sexuality about it which affects your demographic, i.e if it was Geeks are Awesome it would attract different people. Furthermore it would not jump out at people in the same way, when someone sees the word Sex in a paragraph it immediately draws their focus and starts their mind conjuring images.. your avatar is an extension of this and indeed possibly provides a double sexy dosage when combined with the account name when people are looking through their daily tweets :P

    What would be interesting is to see what effect having a sexualised man model wearing one of the geeks are sexy t-shirts as your twitter account profile pic and seeing how it affects your stats.

    Where as women are generally appreciative of another womens looks, men are generally turned off by sexualised men. So would you see a change in the number of men vs the number of women followers??

    Social experiment time!

  6. I followed you when you had the logo one and then unfollowed you by mistake when the avatar changed – because I didn’t recognise you. I like the girl in the chair pic because it means I can easily identify Geeks are Sexy when scrolling through my feed (it’s like a logo whereas your face just blended in with the rest of the crowd). (Re-followed when I realised).

    I’d be interested to see the number of clicks you got with each logo vs just the number of follows. I’d guess that Boobs-in-the-air was not as effective as chair-lady-logo.

  7. A lot of people are claiming “sex sells.” While this isn’t anything new or necessarily wrong, there’s something more basic going on. Attempt to call it sexist if you like, but it’s a well understood concept in psychology that people on average simply prefer women, are more comfortable around them, especially in social contexts. Now make that an attractive woman, and you’ll have a further increase, then make her intelligent sounding on top while still being accommodating, and you’ll see an increase as well.

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