Every social media service has the option to set up a profile but Google+ gives you the best real estate around. Google+ provides a profile page so that you can explain who you are and introduce yourself but also provides a big opportunity with the cover photo. Your profile is crucial because people use it to decide whether to pay attention to you. Visual appeal combined with a smart optimization are the perfect combination to creating your own terrific Google+ profile.

Top Tips for a Terrific Google+ Profile

1Optimize for five seconds

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People do not study profiles to make a fair and informed decision. They spend a few seconds and make a snap decision—think HotorNot not eHarmony if this was online dating. The important ramification is that your profile must convince people that you are likeable, trustworthy, and competent—or at least not cause them to ignore you in approximately five seconds.

2Focus on your face

A good avatar shows your face and not much more than your face. You don’t want to show your entire body nor your family, friends, dog, and the car.

Think round. Google+ uses a circular format. Keep this in mind when you take the your pictures. Get up close and personal or crop closely to fill the space.

3Go asymmetrical

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Symmetry makes a picture less interesting so don’t stick your face exactly in the middle. Look around, and you’ll see that professional photographers seldom place a face in the middle of a photo.

4Face the light

The source of light should come from in front of you. If the light comes from behind you, your face will probably be under-exposed unless you force a fill-flash.

5Think big

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When people scan posts and comments, they see your picture in postage-stamp sizes. However, it should display a big, crisp photo if they click on it. For this reason, upload a picture that is at least 640 pixels wide.

The two areas that you have to make a lasting visual impact are your avatar and your cover photo. Use these spaces wisely to tell the visual story of who you are and give people a reason to follow you. Or not.

Showcasing one of your hobbies or passions allows people a glimpse into who you are and what circles they could add you in.

6Stick with one picture

If companies used different logos in different places, mass confusion would reign. Your picture is your social-media logo, so use the same one everywhere. This helps people recognize you around the web.

7Pick a neutral screen name

Make it easy for people to find you and remember your screen name. It’s easiest to remember and type the most logical guess. In my case, that’s “Guy Kawasaki” not “G. Kawasaki,” “GT Kawasaki,” or “G. T. Kawasaki.” For example, @GuyKawasaki on Twitter is +GuyKawasaki on Google+.

8Craft a mantra

#8-1Google+ allows you to add a tagline to your profile which appears on your Google+ hover card. Make this mantra-like: three to four words that explain your essence in a serious way. For example, my mantra is “I empower people.”

9Tell your story

#9In addition to an avatar, Google+ permits a second, larger photo that’s called an cover photo. Its purpose is to tell your story and communicate information about what’s important to you. This is where you show a photo of your dog, car, family, or any picture that communicates your passion in life. Canva has created a set of designs that you can customize and remix to create a more personal cover photo. There’s no excuse for looking like a clown with with the default circus banner. Follow Canva’s board Canva Layouts: Google Plus Cover Photos on Pinterest.

10Get a vanity URL

You can get a vanity URL for your Google+ account. It means that people will see a link like https://plus.google.com/+GuyKawasaki/posts instead of https://plus.google.com/+112374836634096795698/posts.

11Be complete

People will make a snap decision based on your avatar, tagline, and cover photo to follow you, learn more about you, or ignore you. If they decide to follow or learn more, then they may read the rest of our profile. Therefore, you should provide a complete amount of information to facilitate the decision.

12Go anonymous

My final recommendation is to view your profile with an “incognito window.” This is a browser window that makes you anonymous. In Chrome, for example, you launch “New Incognito Window” from the File menu. Viewing your profile this way ensures that you see it as other people do. This is a good practice for viewing all your social-media efforts, not only your profile.

Take these tips and use our designs as a starting off point to create a visually appealing, interesting Google+ presence for yourself. We can’t wait to see what you create!

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Guy Kawasaki is the chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design tool. Formerly, he was an advisor to the Motorola business unit of Google and chief evangelist of Apple. He is also the author of APE, What the Plus!, Enchantment, and nine other books. Kawasaki has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.