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What Punxsutawney Phil (and Bill Murray) Taught Us about Posting Online

Posted by Dean Asher on 2/3/16 11:00 PM
Topics: social media, Marketing to Students

On Tuesday, America's most famous living rodent boldly predicted we'd have an early spring. Also, cable networks played the hit 1993 Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day — over, and over, and over, and over... The repetition is an homage to the plot of the film, where Murray's character, TV meteorologist Phil Connors, relives the same Groundhog Day in a seemingly endless loop. Kendall Walters over at Hootsuite drew some pretty interesting parallels to the film and how we should develop our social media strategies. We've included excerpts here, but be sure to read it at the Hootsuite blog for the authentic "Groundhog Day" experience.


Phil’s repetitive ordeal may sound like a nightmare, but over time he embraces it and proves why repetition isn’t really such a bad thing.

Social media and the art of repetition

When it comes to social media, there are benefits to embracing repetition, just like in the movie. No, really.

Repetition is, in many ways, utterly essential to a successful social media strategy (and avoiding burnout). This is particularly true of Twitter, where posts tend to have a very short shelf life ( says Tweets have a half-life of 2.8 hours, Wiselytics puts the time at 24 minutes, and Betaworks says it’s a mere four minutes). In such a short window of opportunity, odds are only a portion of your followers will see any one Tweet.

With that little time to make an impression, it only makes sense to put your message out there more than once. Think about the amount of time and effort you put into the creation of whatever piece of content you’re sharing on Twitter—whether it’s a photo, a video, a blog post, or something else entirely—does it make sense for only a few of your followers to see it?

I didn’t think so.

But (and this is important) that doesn’t mean you should copy-paste your exact message over and over. In fact, Twitter actually considers that behavior spam.

In AdWeek’s SocialTimes, Lauren Dugan makes the argument for why duplicating Tweets is a good strategy and explains how to do it well: “You have to keep your entire audience in mind when duplicating Tweets. Some of them will have seen the first Tweet, and might be turned off if they see an exact copy an hour later. In fact, they might even think it’s spam, and click the dreaded ‘unfollow’ button.”

Lather, rinse, repeat

In the same way that Phil lived each of his repeated days slightly differently, you too can keep your social media repetition from becoming monotonous.

Kissmetrics provides these helpful suggestions for different ways to switch up the content of your messaging when resharing:

  • Post the title of the piece and a link to it
  • Ask a question
  • Share a fact or figure included in your post
  • Use a pull-quote from your piece
  • Write a teaser message

A key factor to remember when repeating content is to space out repeated shares appropriately for each different network. This can (and should) be dependent upon your followers and how they react to your content.

Kissmetrics suggests more repetition—done so more frequently—for Twitter than for Facebook, for example.

That brings us back to Groundhog Day. As Phil moves through the movie—repeating Feb. 2 for days, weeks, months, and possibly even years—he begins to test new ways of doing things. He tries different ways of speaking to people and new approaches to wooing the object of his affection (his producer, who, like everyone in the film other than Phil, is caught in the time loop but is unaware of it).

As Phil does in Groundhog Day, it’s time for you to appreciate the benefits of repetition. In terms of your social media strategy, repetition can be a great way for you to test the effectiveness of your Tweets or A/B test headlines, hashtags, images (or GIFs), tone, send times, and different styles of social messaging for optimal impact.

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