Good Morning, Twitter

Just about each and every morning, business strategist Liz Strauss (@lizstrauss) goes over to her window overlooking the Lake Michigan shoreline of Chicago and takes a photograph. She then posts the photo to Instagram and Twitter, often with a message bidding her followers a good morning. She’s even got a different hash tag for different views, such as “#lizharbor3.”

While Liz’s approach to saying “good morning” goes beyond a simple “good morning, Twitter,” it might still fall into a category of tweets that a recent academic paper  described as Presence Maintenance, that is, a tweet that has the underlying intent of letting people know that the writer is currently present on Twitter.

According to that paper, and the May 2012 Harvard Business Review article based on that paper, such tweets are the most strongly disliked, with 45% of the users saying that those tweets were “not worth it.”

In the study, over 1,400 users were asked to rate the quality of 43,738 tweets with the assigned values of “Worth Reading,” “Just OK,” and “Not Worth It.” According to the HBR article, “What Makes a Great Tweet,” the best types of tweets are:

  • Random Thought – cleverly worded thoughts or opinions
  • Self-Promotion – particularly if useful
  • Questions to Followers
  • Information Sharing

Tweets acting as a virtual clearing-of-the-throat — the “ahem, I’m here” tweets — were clearly not liked. Of course, people aren’t normally asked to weigh-in on each and every tweet in their stream. Perhaps outside of the testing environment, people simply ignore those tweets in their stream. Or do they?

Blogger Lisa Barone (@lisabarone) thinks the “good morning” tweet is often overdone and not a memorable way to engage. She wrote, “Waking up to see “Good Morning” or “Good Morning, Twitter” trending every day makes me seriously fear for us as humans. Why are you doing this? I want you to ask yourself….Why on Earth do you feel the need to say good morning to Twitter? STOP!”

Others see real value in the matinal salutation. In a conversation on the topic with Jodi Sonoda (@KarmicEvolution), she said, “It’s nice for friends and gives new folks an ‘in’ to start a conversation and connecting. Being friendly doesn’t have to be ‘useful’ per say. Like smiling at strangers on the street, it’s just nice.”

Marketer Mimi Ortega ‏(@MimiOrtega) concurred, “… it’s a good social media manner. Don’t you say good morning when you walk into your office?” Lily Zajc (@dixieLil) described it as a “familial social pleasantry.”

Jeff Pulver (@jeffpulver), the founder of #140Conf, said “every day when it is morning and I can be online for at least 15 minutes, there is a Good Morning from me.” He went on to say that sometimes those greetings get extended in conversations lasting up to a couple of hours.

Twitter Under The Microscope

Twitter’s built-in brevity helps to make the micro-blogging platform ideal for studying conversation, sentiment, and semantics.

If yours is a major brand, it isn’t feasible to sort through the thousands, or hundreds of thousands of posts to determine if there are problems afoot. By using sentiment analysis tools, marketers can see instantly if there are grumblings afoot.

And meanwhile, locked away in some Manhattan office high-rise, analysts are wielding big data views of tweets to determine whether they should sell short on their stock holdings.

Conversation Analysis (CA), in which the patterns in conversation are analyzed, got its start in the early 1960’s, when sociologist Harvey Sacks embarked on studying the transcripts of a suicide hotline. Like tweets, those conversations tended to have constraints that made them ideal for study.

In CA, one person saying “good morning,” and another answering “good morning” is called an adjacency pair — meaning a couple of turns in a conversation that follow a ritualistic pattern. “Good morning” is also an “opening — an expression of the pleasure of meeting someone, and infers an invitation to a reply — it isn’t just a statement put out there.

With its 140 character limitation, you’d think that there really couldn’t be a better environment for studying conversation (although one famous study was performed on air traffic controllers’ conversations with pilots).  One of the first tasks that the scientists take on is the categorization of tweets. It makes sense — wouldn’t it be simple?

Intent Matters

A problem with tweet categorization, however, is that a post can have a completely different tone based on the underlying intent of the writer.

A person can share a piece of news because it really is exciting, or they can do so to bring attention to themselves. A person can say, “good morning, world” as a means to warm people up to their next self-promotion, or really as a means of heartfelt greeting and invitation to conversation.

There’s also the problem of different people using Twitter in utterly different ways. There is a vast population that is using it for a bit of brief entertainment every day, others use it for self-promotion, and yet others for real meetings-of-the-mind.

One person’s wasted words can be another’s verbal treasure. Some people read their entire Twitter stream (presumably people following fewer users) while others skim and pop in and out. The first group might mind a certain type of post, while the latter might simply whiz by as though they were flying down a water park slide.

As a constrained system, Twitter can be the ideal environment for studying social interaction. Marketers, however, shouldn’t just assume the results as gospel, implementing their content strategies in response.

Don’t Overreact

I can imagine that next week, in some marketing department somewhere, a CMO will declare, “no more tweets saying ‘howdy or good morning’ — there’s a new study out…” Instead, we have to test out interactions, and find out for ourselves, in our own communities, what’s effective, and what isn’t.

As Lisa Barone suggests, just posting an automated greeting to the world isn’t going to do a lot for you. But when you make a heartfelt hello to the world, and are there to pick up the conversation, it can have a big impact.

Blogger Diane Brogan (@DianeBrogan) says of Liz Strauss’ photos that she starts each day by checking them, and usually responds to Liz’s greeting with her own reply.

At the most recent #140Conf, Tifanny LaBanca (@TiffanyLaBanca) spoke of a difficult time in her own life in which those very photos and morning greetings help to sustain her: “I found this unexpected comfort on Twitter (…) each day I would start my day on Twitter by seeking out Liz Strauss’s photo of the sunrise on Lake Michigan. The message that I got from those images was that life goes on, no matter how painful, that sun is going to continue to rise.”

If you get up in the morning, and are feeling your oats, feel free to visit me on Twitter and say Good Morning! If you have your own thoughts on these types of tweets, let’s talk about them here.

Feature image and accompanying images from iStockPhoto used under license.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Social Media Marketing | Twitter | Twitter Marketing Column


About The Author: is the author of the DragonSearch Online Marketing Manual and Social Marketology (McGraw Hill 2012) and the ceo/co-founder of DragonSearch. He is a regular speaker for Google at their Get Your Business Online seminars. Dragon frequently speaks about the convergence of social media, process, information architecture, and sociology.


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  • Darin “Doc” Berntson

    This is an interesting post Ric. I am always one to say good morning. Now I may have to try it with pictures, or maybe video? =)

    I do not always get a reply when I tweet good morning, but sometimes I get a response of “why you so chipper?” and other times it starts off some nice conversations.

    Now I have yet to try it for the business account… but I may try it out and see what happens.

    If people find a “good morning” wasted words… they can un-follow me. I like to be social, and a good “top of the mornin’ to ya” gets my day going in the right direction!

    Thanks for the great post!


  • Ric Dragon

    Thanks, Doc – I agree. And of course, there’s people who don’t really like “good morning” IRL either :-)

  • Michele Price

    Interesting, conversation analysis is what I have done without calling it that ;)  Looking at what causes reactions for people, that for example cause listeners to want to ask us questions or share tweets.

    Knowing how to capture attention via twitter in ways that matter to your ideal audience seems to be as much an art as it is a science. No matter whether it is morning, noon or night.   I have watched to see who responds to different styles of conversation.  Especially at conferences.  Conferences and educational events are discovering having a online conversation with people who wanted to attend is just smart business.

    Ok I am off to write a post on this as it rolls around in my head.  Thanks for shaking up the idea of what is a “Good Morning” on twitter.

  • dianebrogan

    Interesting post. Of course someone would analyze what, why and how Twitter is used. I fall into the “Good Morning” category. I enjoy saying hi to my friends. I have seen you twice this year, but if not for Twitter, I would probably loose contact with you. Twitter lets me stay in contact with people. Goodness, maybe I should write my own blog about how much my Twitter friends add to my day.
    Thank you for the information. I hope Twitter doesn’t get analyzed out of existence.

  • Ric Dragon

    And DAMN! You ARE good at it, Michele! 

  • Ric Dragon

    Nah; I wouldn’t worry – analyzing is really just for the business side so that we can improve how businesses communicate with their customers. Meanwhile, the world goes on, and people will do what they wand and should do.  For me, I use Twitter both personally and for business – and it all gets mashed together.  Oh, and Good morning, Diane!

  • nancytierney

    Well, I’m definitely in the Good Morning camp! I wish my peeps a good morning almost every morning. Why? Not to announce that I’m up and on Twitter. But because I love saying Hey to my peeps and I am sincerely wishing them a good day.

    This post made me yearn for the olden days when social media was social, when our interest and intent wasn’t always about biz and being someone, when conversations could get sparked by more than a link or a targeted question. And where you could wish someone well without there being a white paper written about it.

    By the way, I get more positive repsonses and conversations going with my Good Morning tweet than almost anything else. Shoot, I get emails from people telling me how they look forward to it every day. And I look forward to it, too. In fact, I think I’ll double-up on my Good Morning tweets! Maybe I’ll add a Good Afternoon and Good Evening, too! Let’s see what happens then.

  • Ric Dragon

    OH! How great to see you pop in and comment, Nancy! And (*checks time*) good afternoon ;-)

  • Liz Strauss

    Good morning, Good afternoon, and Good evening, Ric! I’ll greet you any time of day! It’s always great to see the people in my Tweet stream (especially you). What’s better than taking time to share the start of a great day?!

    Sad that HBR didn’t look for the hidden assumptions that might have been in their survey.

  • Ric Dragon

    Classic case of people saying they like or prefer something – but will behave differently. I’m thinking the very act of being asked, and responding taps into a different part of the brain than when people are IN social. That’s why what they really need to do is pull out the fMRI machines – see what people really prefer.


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