Shadowing Successful Social Media Practices
On February 2, 2012, we celebrate the 126th year of Groundhog Day at Gobblers Knob, which takes place in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, made famous by the annual event. After so many years the event is still nationally recognized, the weather predictions by Punxsutawney Phil (the clairvoyant groundhog) are recorded in the Congressional Records for the National Archive, and the event itself lures droves of people to witness the prognostication in-person.
In the digital age, so many businesses and events are competing in the virtual marketplace. Amazingly, the holiday has evolved, embracing technology and social media to keep the event relevant and accessible to even those who do not make the trek to Gobbler’s Knob or the City of Punxsutawney.
For the Pennsylvania Tourism Office, the venture into social media has been another very successful strategy in generating interest for Groundhog Day and Punxsutawney itself. The organization uses social media platforms to communicate with consumers directly, and has even used social media as a tool in many other Pennsylvanian events and points of interest. In fact, last year’s partnership with social media giant Foursquare broke records with over 27,000 users unlocking the special Groundhog Day Badge, more than any sponsored badge to date.
Several other states have also embraced social media to communicate with their audiences, including congressmen, tourism boards, and departments of transportation. "Using social media tools allows us to carry messages to constituents through the forums they already use rather than expecting them to seek us out," said Washington State Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond.
Whether Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow or not used to affect me much more than it does these days (I hail from the Midwest, after all), but his fame reaches far beyond the state border of Pennsylvania. The genius marketing team behind this project has grown it into a week-long event, attracting visitors and giving notoriety to the town of Punxsutawney, a town which otherwise would not necessarily be of much interest to travelers.
Needless to say, their success is a template for all marketing and social media experts to note and mimic, and it shows that anything can become a compelling story with a bit of creativity and style. My hope would be to design a campaign with as much (if not greater) success so that I would want to relive it over and over again– Groundhog Day style.