In this post I’m going to focus on social media communication with regards our modern communications. I look at some free Twitter analysis and what changes this insight can help us with, as well as look at some other resources to help us with our approach to what we do on social media, either professionally or for a company account.

Marshall Godsmith looks at digital body language

“Do we understand the new cues and signals of “virtuality”? What are the hidden cues and signals in our digital conversations?” asks Erica Dhawan in an interview with Marshall Goldsmith about digital body language.

Erica brings up a great point about communicating in the digital age, when we are often remote from other people, both in distance and time. People are always quick to find solutions to problems though.

This NY Times article highlights this nicely:

If you email your boss to apologize for coming in late to work and she responds, “You’re fired,” it means something very different from “You’re fired :)” or “You’re fired ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.”

There’s more in the article, for instance about the nuance of the meaning of the Twitter favourite notification and how to end conversations online.

The Personal Branding Blog has an interesting piece about “Reading the Digital Smile” and suggests that things such as Twitter retweets or favourites are a form of smile online.

Analytics and digital body language

The roots of digital body language is in data – as Steve Woods explains, who developed the term back in 2009: “Digital Body Language is the aggregate of all the digital activity you see from an individual.” Read more about this on my “what is digital body language?” blog.

So data on a social media profile is a great place to look with regards what we are already doing and what we might want to do in the future. I used the Twitonomy website for a some free analytics on my professional @LightbulbJo account. Of course there are other websites you can use for free, paid and across other social media platforms too.

Twitonomy website screengrab

As with all websites you’ll use for analytics on any platform, there’s lots of data to look at. If you use a free version some of this will obviously be restricted until you upgrade. But as you can see from the Twitonomy dashboard below, there’s lots to look at.

Twitonomy free dashboard

Obviously this can all get overwhelming. So rather than the dashboard or overview, it’s about picking some detail to look at and understand.

Below shows my top ten most retweeted accounts and users that I reply to, since December 2018.

Users most retweeted

It’s interesting, because if you asked me to come up with a list for these two categories, I wouldn’t have included everyone there. What I have a sense of, and what the data shows are two different things and this is an important thing to understand.

As I look through this list, I can think about the accounts there and what it means.

@MomentLightbulb makes sense, it’s my company corporate account. I’ve got more followers as I’ve concentrated on my professional profile for years before starting a corporate account. So therefore I want to promote those tweets to my followers.

@TrainingJournal makes sense too, as I work as Deputy Editor part time. Therefore I want to promote not only the articles and webinars I’m interested in, but also the brand as a whole.

There are other people on the list that I know I interact with a lot – perhaps they share great content I want to share again to my followers, or perhaps I’ve been interviewed by them and I’m promoting that work, or they are a client and I’m giving them some visibility to my followers.

Users most replied to

If I look at who I most reply to, I wouldn’t have thought that @AndrewJacobsLD and @DDS180 would have been in that list as I didn’t think I had that many conversations with them.

What I can start to think about is who I want to be retweeting. What twitter accounts or information do I want to be sharing to provide information to the people that follow me, to gain new followers and, basically, highlight myself in a positive way to people.

Twitter chats

I can think about the conversations I have on Twitter too.

@Myramade I know I converse with as she often does a twitter question or chat and asks people for their thoughts, which I contribute to.

Are there other people or companies where I’d like to be doing that more, perhaps to interact with them, to learn from them, partner with them or otherwise, again basically put myself in a good light!


Hashtags are used in social media to label, categorise or otherwise group a post to a topic or event.

This shows the hashtags I’ve used most. Some are events, like #lt19uk and #oeb18.

Others are the topics I’m talking a lot about, like #webinar, #VirtualClassroom or #LightbulbCPD, which is the CPD programme we run for live online skills.

What I can do here, at a glance and without huge technical analysis, is see what hashtags I’m using so far.

Are these the ones I want? I’m happy with these as they relate to what I do. Are there others I could be using more though?

I’m writing here about social media – do I want to be known more in this space, or marketing, or facilitation… perhaps I should start using those hashtags a little more so that people interested in those topics see my posts.

Tweets most retweeted

Some more analysis of my account focuses on what people retweet of mine and what they favourite. On other social media platforms there will be similar actions that people take with your posts.

I can see both the retweets and the favourites here, as well as the individual tweets that I’ve done. Top of the list is a tweet from attending a webinar. I can look at this to try and understand what made it so popular, so I can try to repeat this success.

By going to the specific tweet I can see what potentially made it so popular:

There’s a few things I can easily see here. First of all, there’s a picture, which we know people love.

I’ve included potentially useful hashtags, like learning, campaign and nudges. I’ve also included the event hashtag, LSGwebinar and the twitter name of the people delivering the presentation.

This got 15 retweets and 54 likes.

There’s more information I can find too. The icon at the bottom of the tweet that looks like a bar chart takes me to Twitter’s own analytics. This is free too.

This shows me impressions, which is how many times it shows up in someone’s timeline. It’s a good number, but not the most important number to me, as it doesn’t mean someone has actually paid attention to the tweet.

More important to me are the likes, the detail expands to see the whole tweet and image adn the link clicks from within the tweet. Also shown here are profile clicks to find out more about me, which is why our profile picture, description and links to our work are important. This also shows people clicking on one of those hashtags to find out more, as well as replies to the tweet.

All of this tells me some interesting stuff. I chose a great event to tweet, a good point that was of interest to people, including how I wrote the post, the use of an image, hashtags and the company twitter handle.

Of course not all of my tweets are going to be like this, but I know when I’m at an event, a webinar or want to make sure that the most people possible see an important point I want to share, this gives me a great idea of the actions I can take to help spread that message and increase either the profile of my own account or that of my company.

Digital body language model

The Lightbulb Moment Digital Body Language model
The Lightbulb Moment Digital Body Language model

Above shows a model of how I look at the components of digital body language, whether its for webinars and virtual classrooms, social media, social learning or any other form of modern digital communication.

I’ve just discussed through some easy and free elements of data on my Twitter account and looking at some of the examples and what I might start thinking about in my analysis.

I started this blog out with a bit of the personality element, in communicating without physical body language, and will come back to it shortly.

Actions is where I want to focus for a moment. In the context for this blog post and the twitter analysis, this is about deciding on a strategy for my social media account, then planning the tactics to achieve that.

For my professional account, one strategy I might select could be engaging more with the platform companies that offer webinar and virtual classroom programmes, like Adobe, Zoom, Cisco and so on. Perhaps my goal is to get them into my top ten most retweeted or replied to.

For my corporate account, perhaps it’s focusing on broadening the hashtags used into different areas to catch a different audience.

What could it be for your own account?

Digital body language and personality

Let’s turn to the personality part of this again, as sometimes it can feel like, with a corporate account, we have to cut back on the personality.

The words we use, just like in physical body language, makes an impact.

This was promoting a webinar that I host for TJ and I love the language of “don’t faff… use this handy link”. It could have been worded so much more staid and stuffy, but this was much more approachable.

Even a tweet with emoticons and a simple reply with the use of those picture icons too can get a point across:

Continuing the point about personality, this can be done with images and photo’s too.

This is the picture for the TJ podcast with me and the editor. It’s not very corporate, but it brings a sense of fun. Is it always appropriate? Of course not, and most of the other tweets or podcast images are much more neutral, but a bit of personality goes a long way. It’s mostly Jon Kennard, the Editor, that has made these changes to the way TJ uses it’s social media, to bring out the personality of the brand, and I think he’s doing an inspiring job.

Remote relationships through social media

If you are thinking of social media as merely a broadcast of what your company is doing, it’s probably not the best way to engage with people and get them involved in your brand, work and what you are providing.

This blog from Rachel Happe focuses on the interaction and relationship element of digital body language. She suggests that digital body language in this context includes elements such as:

  • When a person’s cadence changes from their normal cadence when they interact with you – whether slower or faster
  • When a person ignores a directed update on their Wall or in their Twitter stream
  • When a person does not follow another back or friend them
  • How and when someone inserts themselves into a public conversation
  • How a person proactively requests connections and on which platforms.
  • What and who a person retweets or shares
  • How reactive and emotional individuals are (are they quick to judge or slower to respond to good/bad news?)

Think about your actions online – do you follow people back that follow you? Do you reply to people that make a social media post that includes you? Are you consistent across platforms? Is what you retweet or share relevant to your profile and what people might expect from you?

Your social media behaviour

There’s an interesting list of 105 social and digital body language factors to take into account about how you behave online. It includes the following:

  1. How much you talk about yourself.
  2. How much value you provide to your community.
  3. How much you help others (or don’t help them.)
  4. How many links you tweet to your own content and resources.
  5. The percentage of your content that is helpful versus selling.

These are important elements that people pick up on, either subconsciously, or they focus on your account to see your recent posts to decide if they want to follow you.

The points from Rachel and the list above are great to think about for the digital body language we emit on social media and all our electronic communication.

The Business 2 Community website recommends to create and share heartfelt content as this is what people tune into. They are looking for that often overused word – authenticity.

Similarly,’s article “10 Powerful Habits for Building a Personal Brand (and Marketing Yourself)” suggests doing things such as becoming a source of relevant information and making to sure to give something back to your profession and community.

On the Oracle website the concept of reusable content “components” is discussed – promoting the idea of using some of your content in different ways for different audiences. They highlight that:

Each content format conveys a different aspect of the same topic, while addressing the information needs of the customer at each point of the decision-making process.

Focusing again on webinars, the Which-50 website quotes Daniel Harrison in suggesting that:

“A prospect who dropped off up early might respond well to an email proposing a different set of more appealing topics, while a highly engaged prospect who asked several questions shows high purchase intent — so a sales rep should follow-up quickly.”

Utilising the mix of data you have available to you, as well as the actions that people or groups have performed, the personality you can see coming through from them, will inform your own actions and thinking about what you want to do in the future.

And did you know that there’s even a digital body language course on Udemy? They say that people will learn to:

  • Improve Your Online Presence
  • Optimize their LinkedIn Profiles
  • Have Better Dating Pictures
  • Level Up Your Digital Brand
  • Take Better Profile Pictures
  • Learn the Psychology of Websites
  • Use Body Language Online


2020 update

Have a look at an infographic: The Importance of Personal Branding on Social Media.


Over to you

Digital body language is a topic that can be applied in so many ways in our digital world, how are you going to use it?

Read more about digital body language here.