What Happened On Social: A #PHLDNC2016 Recap

Kyle Krajewski
August 3, 2016

Wow! What a week we had in Philly for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, huh?

Regardless of where your political affiliations lie, last week was inspiring for all of us—to watch our city’s capability of putting on the biggest event in the nation. Philadelphia itself came together, its people got civically engaged, and some of the world’s most powerful voices got to experience the place we know, love, and call home. Any time Philly has the chance to step into the national spotlight, it’s a great thing and enough to get you pretty pumped up.

So what happened on social that made an impact?

After some pretty thorough investigation, I was happy to find that large brands as a whole saw it fit to avoid the #DNCinPHL conversation all together. Nine times out of 10, getting involved in political conversation is going to backfire. Even with a simple lighthearted post, someone is going to take it the wrong way. We’ve learned that time and time again with posts like this, this, and this. [Remember: it’s bad form to talk politics at a party.]

On a local scale, it’s a bit of a different story. There were some honorable social media efforts to which I’d like to pass on a nod of approval.


This is an account that I was looking forward to watching live ever since we attended #SMDayPHL last month and had the privilege of the account’s manager Annie Heckenberger discuss what it was going to take to handle the convention’s official Twitter account.

Not only was the account’s coverage of the event thorough, its engagement with its followers relentless, and updates on the city’s happenings helpful, but the account itself was historical: its summation of tweets will actually be archived by the Library of Congress as part of American history.


I know I said that, on a large scale, it’s usually inappropriate for brands to try and jump into political conversations but, locally, Philly businesses won the day. Luckily for them, there are ways to leverage an event’s population without necessarily leveraging its politics. #DNCDeals was that way.

As usual, we saw one of my favorite Philly businesses @FederalDonuts totally kill it. In this case, they didn’t even need to flex their creative muscles. They know they offer an excellent product. So what do they do? Tweet out a deal, watch the national press come in, and retweet the hell out of it.


Similarly, local institutions like @RideIndego, @McGillins, and @CCDSips leveraged the mass influx of people rather than what was actually happening at the convention.

990 Spring Garden

The #TruthToPower exhibit at 990 Spring Garden Street absolutely dominated Instagram during the DNC. #TruthToPower brought in a ton of foot traffic, including some pretty big-name celebrities. In just 30 minutes there, I ran into Philly’s favorite party boy Diplo, human URL will.i.am and that Obama impersonator from the Tonight Show.

Word got out on the event on a large scale several days before it’s opening when popular Philly Instagrammers like @StreetsDept sent out some exclusive shots of the powerful scene.

This just is, without a doubt, the biggest art event in Philly in a generation… More photos/info at the link in my bio! (Installation by @michaelmurphyart!) #TruthToPower #Philly #visitphilly #discoverphl #savephilly #philadelphia #phl #demconvention #dnc #michaelmurphyart #guncontrol

A video posted by Conrad Benner (@streetsdept) on

@ishknits installing for @rockthevote’s #TruthToPower: “This headline was found on a popular woman’s magazine. No part of a woman’s body has been left untouched by society’s incessant need to reduce our worth, authority, and attention to our bodies alone.”

A photo posted by Conrad Benner (@streetsdept) on

One of the most moving installations at this week’s #TruthToPower: Titled, ‘And Counting‘, the sea of tags in this piece by @gilfnyc represent the names and of the 629 Americans killed by police this year so far… Sadly, since installing the piece over the weekend, 13 new names have had to be added to the installation. #enoughisenough #blacklivesmatter #philly #visitphilly #discoverphl #savephilly #policebrutality #phl #dnc #demconvention #dncinphl

A photo posted by Conrad Benner (@streetsdept) on


As usual, the wonderful men and women with the Philadelphia Police Department absolutely knocked it out of the park. Not just out there in the community, but on social as well. Check them out:

Fun engagement with the community…

Zingers at the expense out-of-towners…

And, of course, helpful updates on protests around town.

Philly Twitter

I  love Philly Twitter and I just want to use this space to shout them out on defending the city’s good name despite the national media trying to find reasons to cut it up on Twitter. Philly Twitter is home to some of the funniest people in the world. Examples:

Much of the national reporters in town for the DNC were unhappy with the city’s layout and transportation systems and took to Twitter to express it:

Philly Twitter was having none of it:

Probably hundreds of tweets like this led to a concession:

And talk bad about the cheesesteak?

Forget about it.

I love these people.

Other Winners:


Balloons had a huge week at the DNC. Nearly bought a pack myself just to join in on all the fun that Bill Clinton was having out there.


As we’ll learn this Thursday at ChatterBlast University’s course on social visuals (sign up here), visuals are huge on social. On Twitter, gifs tend to be the most popular. It’s only right that the premiere gif-sharing platform, Giphy, was the one to crush the visual game:


While Bernie may have lost the election, he sure had a one big win over Donald Trump last week as he channeled Hillary Clinton’s famous “Delete your account” tweet:

Well done, sir.

And let’s not forget the biggest loser…

Susan Sarandon

Cheer up, Susan! Philly isn’t all that bad.