I am not a Philly sports fan. I won’t even pretend to be. As a supporter of rival sports teams, I have always silently taken pleasure in the futility of certain local franchises (*cough* Eagles *cough*). But, as a new transplant to the City of Brotherly Love, I have come to realize just how ingrained the sports teams (and fans) are in the lifeblood of Philadelphia. This has been no more apparent than during the past month, March Madness, widely hailed as one of the best times of the year for sports fans.
The combination of the Villanova Wildcats’ success and Philly hosting its first Regional Final since 2001 was enough to create some substantial social media buzz around the city (and my Facebook timeline). March Madness brought with it a wave of positive social activity. I couldn’t check Instagram without seeing some kind of post accompanied by #MarchMadness, #Elite8, or #BE4Nova. Twitter was flooded with cheerful tweets about Philly hosting the tournament. I lost count of the Facebook posts plugging the hometown heroes at Villanova.
It begged the question, “How are Philly businesses capitalizing on this burst of attention?” Philly brands like the Wells Fargo Center have leveraged the opportunity to engage with new fans on social media by giving them a behind-the-scenes look at how the Center was preparing for the championship games through photos and videos. Chickie’s & Pete’s and Yards Brewing Company got in on the excitement by promoting food and drink deals through their various social media accounts. The list goes on.
At a time when cities are in the national spotlight for all the wrong reasons, I can think of few better ways for a city to endear itself to fans far and wide than by being a successful part of the positive, impassioned annual rite of spring that is March Madness. Let’s not forget, all of this positive exposure comes at the start of a summer that will see Philly in the midst of many nationally recognized events, most notably, the Democratic National Convention in July. As Villanova attempts to ride its momentum to a potential national championship, Philadelphia looks to ride its momentum as a global destination.
I may not be a Philly sports fan, but I am a fan of Philadelphia, and I think I’ll #BE4Nova for a few more days.
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