The surprise team of the 2022 MLB baseball playoffs has been the Philadelphia Phillies. While it’s hard to call any team with Bryce Harper on it an “underdog,” the Phillies are seemingly the team of destiny right now. Watch any TV broadcast of a home Phillies game during the playoffs, and the atmosphere is electric. For brands and small businesses looking to be part of the surging social media sentiment surrounding any sports team, there are some great marketing lessons here…
#1: Find the right hashtag and go with it
Most brands try to develop hashtags that involve their name or marketing tagline, and hope that these hashtags will somehow go viral online. But the best hashtag of the Phillies’ playoff run thus far has been #RedOctober – it’s a hashtag that’s filled with meaning, yet so generic that it can be used by just about anyone. Best of all, it’s been heavily promoted by the Phillies’ social media accounts, so simply including a post with this hashtag could get your content surfaced by the major social media algorithms.
One example that stands out here is Yuengling Brewery, a local brewer with extensive ties to the Phillies. Tweets for Yuengling Beer now feature the #RedOctober hashtag, which is even more powerful given that the color red is part of the official branding of Yuengling.
#2: Reserve a spot on your social media calendar for local sports teams
If you are developing a social media calendar in advance, don’t forget to leave a spot on it for local sports teams. Nobody could have predicted the Phillies turning into the surprise fan favorite of the MLB playoffs, but everyone could have predicted that the baseball playoffs in October would have produced some new sensation or viral trend.
Supporting a local sports team on social media is a great way to win over potential customers, and makes for an easy piece of content that you can push out regularly. The one caveat here is that you have to be careful about encroaching on the marketing territory of official sponsors.
#3: Understand the power of iconic moments
The Phillies playoff run is not yet over, but there have been so many iconic moments – the Hoskins bat slam, the Marsh bomb, the Schwarber mega-bomb, and just about anything featuring superstar Bryce Harper. These iconic moments have a way of turning into internet memes, and we’re just waiting for Bryce Harper’s “I can’t believe what I just saw” face to become a future meme. Imagine a marketing promotion along the lines of, “Our sale is so big, it left even Bryce Harper speechless.”
If the Phillies make it to the World Series, it’s easy to see there will be even more great examples of how to leverage the power of social media. The key word here is “social” – the Phillies playoff run is bringing together generations of fans who remember the iconic Phillies of years past, as well as new generations of fans who grew up with Bryce Harper. When making any sports team part of your social media strategy, that’s an important thing to keep in mind. You need to make any promotion or post part of a shared fan experience, and not something that only benefits your business.