We believe image matters, so create the woman you want people to see online with our help.

It’s where reputations are won and lost friends are made, careers advanced and relationships formalized with a little red heart. It’s where we live. And it’s all online. You’re already on Facebook, of course – its 901 million digital citizens post 300 million new photos and 3.2 billion likes and comments every day. What you put online defines you, and it last a lifetime.

Description: How to look good on facebook

How to look good on facebook

As news editor of Elleuk.com, I’ve watched fashion brands and celebrities embrace social media: it has changed the way many high-profile women are received, for the better. Gwyneth Paltrow, for one, has enjoyed the benefits of savvy social-media use. Before Twitter and her site Coop.com; inaccurate preconceptions of macrobiotic dullness, After: tweets like ‘Who do I have to bang to get an advance copy the new @coldplay album? I mean, really’ showed her sense of fun and culled the ‘quinoa persona’.

What did we learn? That 99 per cent of the time, a winning way with social media is not luck. It’s a matter of forensic control over what you put online and when. Brands and celebrities have people to tell them how to do it; people like Ilan Bass, managing director of WhoSay, which helps clients like Lara Stone and, yep, Gwyneth Paltrow manage their social-media presences. He explains: ‘It’s exciting because they can tell their own stories. Before, celebrity content was paparazzi photos or editorial images. The rise of social media has given celebrities the ability to engage directly with fans’. You feel invited into a private world, and they want. But can you do the same thing? You may not have a social-media strategy director; but you do have Elle. Here’s what we recommend

Get the photo right

Rule one: ‘No one wants to see your laundry basket’, says David Dlijper, fashion and cover photographer, and Elle regular, on what makes profile photos work. Every image you post conveys information, whether you intend it to or not. ‘To take the best profile picture, stand by the window. Switch off the flash and get someone else to take the picture’, what, no elaborate styling? No professional portrait?

‘To take the best profile picture, stand by the window. Switch off the flash and get someone else to take the picture’

No. ‘The perfect profile photo is all about looking like yourself’, says Garance Doré, illustrator, photographer and blogger, ‘so choose a really natural image’. She should know: people click on garancedore.fr in their droves to see her street-style shots because, yes, her content has polish, but it’s also grounded in reality.

‘Everyone’s nervous about having their picture taken’, says Elle’s creative director Marissa Bourke. But there are cheats to make the process less painful. ‘Sunglasses hide a multitude of sins; then you just have to concentrate on making your lips look good’, says Elle’s accessories editor Donna Wallace. Steer clear of too-delicate jewellery, she adds, and instead frame the face with a detailed collar or statement necklace. Finally, run a ‘sheerness check’ – that breezy chiffon top can reveal more than expected in direct light or under a flash.

And: ‘Don’t try to do it yourself! The extended-arm-over-your-head pose is overdone’, cautions model Coco Rocha, who has a social-media following of more than three million and whose Creating a Great Profile on Facebook video has attracted nearly 11,000 views. ‘Find a friend with a good sense of style to take your picture’, she says.

Be yourself

The great crime online isn’t a less-than-perfect profile photo – it’s a lack of authenticity. ‘Your style has to reflect you’, says Rosanna Falconer, who manages social media for the British Fashion Council. ‘If you enthuse over life day, keep that style in your online voice’. Aliza Licht, better known as DKNY PR Girl (or @dkny), and fashion’s Twitter queen with nearly 400,000 followers, says, ‘Authenticity is producing a runway show and then going home to vacuum your apartment. That’s real. Life is not 24/7 glam and I try to show [mine] in its true form. Every person has unique qualities and quirks and the little details you divulge make followers feel more connected’. Her typical tweet? ‘$572 to dry clean a gown. #OnlyInNY’.

And don’t be uptight. Online life is relaxed, which is one reason the fashion industry – sense of humour previously missing, presumed dead – is learning to lighten up and laugh at itself. A short film in the tradition of the S*** Girls Say video meme, poking fun at a PR from Oscar De La Renta (entitled, inevitably, S*** @ OscarPRGirl Says) would once have had the vernerable house clutching its pearls at the audacity. Now it’s proudly posted on the Oscar De La Renta YouTube channel.

Edit, edit, edit

‘The most effective social media-sites have a clear idea of what they will and won’t use social media for. ‘You have to use [it] sensibly’, PR guru Mark Borkowski says, advice that goes double for negativity. A sneery quip that might be forgotten when whispered to a friend will live forever online. ‘Don’t pick fights and don’t tweet when drunk’. Elle’s editor in chief Lorraine Candy adds: ‘Self-censor. Don’t tweet on the spur of the moment. Work out how you want to look, what your image is that day and then post. Think about the picture, blog or tweet in detail and re-read it before you send’.

Keep on tweeting

All this strategizing shouldn’t obscure that social-media sites are, at heart, invitations to connect. ‘Social media is about dialogue’, says social-media consultant Coral Summers. ‘So ask questions and engage in conversations’. Regular updates cement those relationships – research shows one Facebook post every other day is optimum; you can tweet more frequently, though more than two links an hour means fewer clicks.

Description: Keep on tweeting

Keep on tweeting

The reward of a well-deployed social-media presence have yet to be fully explored but it could land you a job (Marc Jacobs has hired through Twitter), or help you find your voice. ‘I just wanted to show people what the real life of a high-fashion model was like’, says Rocha. ‘Now I have three million followers, which has forced me to think carefully about what I stand for and what I talk about’.

Who knows? You might make Twitter friends with Gwyneth or Victoria – not too shabby for 140 characters or less.

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