It seems that Groundhog Day—the holiday when a nation looks to rodent to predict the future—was invented for the sole purpose of having fodder on a traditionally slow news day, something to tack on to the end of news broadcasts.
Then the movie “Groundhog Day” came along and inexorably changed the world forever. Maybe it didn’t have that great of an impact, but it consistently finds its way onto all-time-greatest lists, including that of film critic Roger Ebert
But what can one of Bill Murray’s greatest performances teach us about social media? Plenty, it turns out.
Here are three social media lessons we can glean from the great "Groundhog Day":
1. Repetition is never good.
In "Groundhog Day," Bill Murray’s character, Phil, is stuck living out the same day of his life over and over. Eventually, he learns that he’s living a life without consequences, and it’s downright maddening.
Too much repetition in the social sphere can be equally maddening. You may have something you want to promote through your brand, but if you harp on it too much in a promotional way, you could see a spike in unfollows and hides.
Know the difference between consistency and repetition. Consistency in the social space is the ability to present relevant content at the right time in a voice that is consistent with the brand. Repetition may be an old-school advertising trick but in the social space it’s just annoying.
2. Don’t drive angry.
One of my favorite lines from "Groundhog Day"
is a piece of dialogue between Murray’s character and the groundhog—Punxsutawney Phil. As he’s making his getaway with the critter in tow, Murray tells him, “Don’t drive angry.”
It’s also a good lesson for communicators who work in the social space. People can post some nasty things about your brand or your company on blogs, Facebook and Twitter. Chances are your first instinct is to respond with something snarky and particularly biting that will shame the person from ever posting anything online again.
Sadly, the Internet doesn’t work that way.
People who have worked in public relations can attest that you can’t fight negativity with more negativity. It will backfire and your minor problem can easily become a big problem if others decide to join the fray.
No matter how vitriolic (or often times false) people are on your page or on Twitter, it’s best to be cordial, thank the person for taking the time to post, and give a calm, sober response.
3. Be flexible.
You can always tell a better story, and
"Groundhog Day" is proof. When director Harold Ramis started work on the movie, it had a completely different tone to it. In one scene, as actor Stephen Tobolowsky (the movie’s Ned Ryerson) explains in a podcast
, Bill Murray finds out he’s living the same day over and over and reacts by shaving his hair into a Mohawk and taking a chainsaw to his hotel room.
“Harold Ramis finished the scene, looked at it, and threw it away,” Tobolowsky explains. “He and writer Danny Rubin huddled together and decided the movie thy were making was very different than the movie they thought they were making.”
From then on, Tobolowsky says, the movie took on much more profound themes and was better off for it—even though they often wrote scenes up until they had to shoot them.
For social media content managers, it’s often tough to be flexible and adaptive. There are legal channels that posts and tweets must go through before they can go up. But the more you push toward being reactive and being a current voice in the social space, the more your company and brand will be looked to as a thought leader. Look for ways your brand can start conversations on a day-to-day basis rather than being locked in to what’s on the calendar.