Ryan Foland: Developing an Awesome Personal Brand on Twitter (2/2)

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Approx. 8 min. read
Last updated: May 15, 2018

Twitter allows you to show off your expertise, to share best practices with your colleagues and other experts and to become a trustworthy brand ambassador. It also allows you to find new leads and create business opportunities.

We continue the interview we started last week with Ryan Foland, personal branding expert and co-founder of InfluenceTree. In this session, Ryan shares his tips and best practices for growing a great and authentic personal brand on Twitter:

Hi Ryan, what are your top 5 tips for generating retweets, likes, and comments on Twitter?

1. Get emotional.

Twitter, just like any other digital platform, can be impersonal if it's just text. You can increase engagement in your tweets by including the use of emojis and GIFs in order to express emotion in your tweets.

When I tweet, retweet, and send direct messages (DMs) I often use emojis and GIFs.

Emojis are a fun way to create more emotion in your tweets. If you have not utilized the Twitter features of selecting a GIF directly through the app in a tweet, or if you are not using emojis, you should explore these features.

Mari Smith expressing emotions on Twitter

2. Don't forget the polls.

A highly underutilized functionality of Twitter is the option to create a poll.

Accessible while you are creating a tweet, a poll allows you the full character limit for a message, as well as the ability to make a question or poll with up to four potential answers. You can also set the length of time that the poll will run for.

When I am at an event and I hear the speaker ask a question, I love tweeting out that question in form of a poll on Twitter and asking other people to weigh-in.

Conversations spark, and, once your poll is done, you can re-share it with your followers to show them the final results of the votes.

Ryan Foland's Twitter poll

3. T.O.M tagging people.

If done respectfully, tagging people in tweets can help you to gain more exposure and reach.

If you direct mention someone in the body of your Tweet (by including their full handle), those characters count against your limit.

The simple act of adding at least one, but up to four images with a tweet, allows you the ability to tag up to 10 people in the photo(s).

I call this type of tagging, T.O.M tags, standing for Top Of Mind. And I tag people who come to the top of my mind, based on my tweet. Avoid tagging a bunch of people simply for the sake of tagging them.

The individuals you tag are notified when you initially post your tweet, as well as when the tweet is retweeted or engaged with. This can be a great way of virtually poking people to have them check out your tweets.

By T.O.M tagging, you are able to create high volumes of impressions and reach for each tweet without badgering others with unnecessary notifications.

Related: The Basics of Content Marketing: Twitter

4. Crop your photos.

Twitter allows you to take a picture directly through the app, but don’t be fooled! I love Twitter but I do not endorse camera functionality within Twitter.

Taking a picture on Twitter through the app forces you into a square image with low resolution, often with limited zoom functionality.

If you take a picture with your regular phone camera, you can add those higher quality pictures into any tweet. Regardless of if you take the photo in the app or not, make sure you take a moment to review the photo and edit it if necessary.

It is good practice to crop photos before tweeting them, making sure to eliminate any unnecessary part of the photo.

When I see a picture that is not cropped, I cringe! There is nothing worse than a photo that is taken from far away and not cropped.

We have all seen those photos that are taken at conferences by attendees who are in the back rows, and all you see is the back of heads and a PPT slide that you can’t read. These types of pictures are not great to look at. Take the few moments to crop your photos so that they are utilizing the visual real estate as best as possible.

It is also important to play with the auto adjust and see if it helps. Oftentimes if you are taking pictures of PowerPoint slides, the auto enhance feature within Twitter makes the pictures of the projected slides much more readable.

And, speaking of photos, don’t forget to clean the fingerprints off the camera lens of your phone -- it will make for a clear shot!

5. Stickers can create movement.

I enjoy using the sticker functionality within the Twitter app. After selecting a picture, you have the ability to put stickers, emojis, glasses, and a variety of fun things directly onto your image. You can size them, add multiple decorations, and delete the ones that don't work.

One thing you may not realize is that the stickers actually create movement and make your pictures more pleasurable for your viewers.

When you select a picture in a tweet, the stickers actually have a glittery shine, as though they are illuminated by a certain light and it almost has a 3D effect (go click on a Twitter image with stickers to see for yourself).

This small addition to pictures can make them much more engaging. I also use stickers of finger pointing to emphasize or draw focus to certain things in the image.

Incorporating these emoji stickers is also another great way to convey emotion about the picture.

Emoji stickers on Twitter

Measuring the impacts of our activities on social media is crucial - How do you measure the ROI of your personal branding strategy on Twitter?

What can't get measured won't get managed. I really enjoy the analytic side of Twitter, and it gives great insight as to what's working and what's not.

When it comes to ROI of a personal branding strategy for Twitter, I measure it through the relationships I build and the business I get.

One of the biggest advantages of investing in building a personal brand is that when people truly see you as a thought leader in your field of expertise, they will reach out to you for help.

At InfluenceTree, we don't do outbound marketing -- Leonard Kim and I have built such strong brands that when people Google “personal branding experts” we come up at the top of the page results.

This only happens after years of creating consistent content that's focused on our areas of expertise, and when executives of large companies sign contracts for our services, that's the true return on our investment.

Another simple measure of ROI, in terms of Twitter, is the number of followers that you're able to earn.

As you grow your fan base, you start to tap into the power of influence. I have companies that find me via Twitter and offer me free products and services. They are betting that my experience will be good, and hope I will Tweet about them. And if I like the products, I do.

Without a significant following, these opportunities would not present themselves. For our executive clients, the ROI of personal branding on Twitter comes in the form of increased business and bottom-line growth. The more people learn about our executive clients, the more they can share their expertise. And business follows.

Personally, I have had writers find me on Twitter, reach out to me, and feature me on major publications -- this is another byproduct of the time I've invested in building my brand using Twitter as an amplification tool for my expertise on personal branding.

Finally, the use of #hashtags can yield ROI. I am known as the #GingerMC, and people use this in their tweets when I speak at conferences.

It is an easy way to search for mentions, and it helps to build my brand. In fact, I have a business card, and the only thing on it is “#GingerMC.” When I hand it to people, they instantly know that in order to learn more about me, they just need to google “#GingerMC.” This actually gives me a way of controlling my personal brand online and it helps people see the most recent posts I have been featured in. It makes me easier to find, which leads to more people reaching out to me and hiring me to help them with their personal brands. That is social media in real life leading to real business.

Ryan Foland personal branding gives Twitter tips

Finally, do you think that companies should encourage and help more employees to grow their personal brand on social media? What are the best practices you'd like to share when it comes to empowering employees on social media?

Yes, I think that companies should encourage their employees to grow their own personal brands because it will only help the company’s overall influence.

Companies that are not utilizing their employees as internal influencers are missing the ball. Each employee has their own sphere of influence that, when tapped into, can create a multiplier effect of exposure for the company that they work at.

It is a myth that companies who invest in their employees’ personal development are setting up their employees to leave the company. I have seen the exact opposite, where companies who invest in their employees make their employees happy at work, which increases productivity and retention.

I also can speak to the fact that C-level executives and top leaders within the company should invest in their own personal brands.

By doing this, they are able to establish themselves as thought leaders both inside and outside the walls of their own company.

When executives focus on building their personal brand, they have a better chance of getting featured in major publications and are more likely to be asked to speak at large conferences and be guests on podcasts and TV shows.

About Ryan: As Managing Partner of InfluenceTree, Ryan Foland helps executives harness the power of vulnerability and authenticity to build a better, more relatable, more profitable brand identities. Recognized by Inc. Magazine as a Top Youth Marketer and named a Top Personal Branding Expert by Entrepreneur Magazine, Ryan helps thought leaders create and syndicate content that reveals their whole self to drive differentiation, growth, and loyalty. Learn more at ryanfoland.com

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