There are no fans quite like Game of Thrones fans. If you’ve ever been among a circle of GOT-loving friends, and you’re that one person who hasn’t seen it, it’s best to keep it to yourself or risk being scoffed at for the rest of eternity.
To millions, Game of Thrones is not just a TV show. It’s a movement. And if you’re not part of the movement, you’re missing out, and probably even left with a nasty case of FOMO.
But Rome (or Westeros) wasn’t built in a day. GoT fans didn’t become obsessed overnight. They didn’t develop a crush on Daenerys after one episode, or grow to hate Joffrey with the fire of a thousand suns just because he made their blood boil in episode 2. Fans’ collective passion for GoT characters is cultivated from years of near-constant presence. It took months, years, perhaps even a decade of careful marketing and content creation to build up the kind of fan hype we’ve seen as we approach the eighth and final season of what some call the greatest television show of all time.
Many of today’s businesses, even the smallest ones, can take a cue or two from Game of Throne’s marketing masterminds, for they have discovered the formula to impress fans with such fervor that they just can’t help coming back for more. Here are a few tools GoT has used to captivate masses of die-hard fans.
With the rise of social media has come the opportunity to spread content at a rate like never before. GoT has used this to their advantage, and they’ve used it well.
Some GoT characters rose to popularity through memes. Others found their popularity through pure hatred among fans across Twitter (We’re looking at you, Joffrey). For a while, it seemed as there was no escaping GoT and the latest spoiler. The show has used social media to build hype week after week, and they’ve maintained this momentum for years. It’s a great show, indeed, but one has to wonder how much today’s current social media landscape has helped propel GoT to meteoric levels of global recognition.
Social media engagement is particularly useful marketing for a show like GoT. Today’s typical television shows run season after season. Game of Thrones, due to its sheer mass of production, sometimes requires long gaps between seasons. Thanks to social media, fans never have to go without their dose of GoT. Not only does this build anticipation for the next season, but it also helps fans remain just as dedicated as they were when the show was actually on the air.
There’s no shortage of businesses using Facebook to connect with their audiences, but few milk it like GoT does. Facebook can be used for all kinds of things beyond the typical post. GoT has leveraged Facebook to connect with their audience on a new level. From commissioning fan art, to hosting contests, and previewing video clips across their Facebook banner, GoT nailed the formula for Facebook by simply using it for what it’s designed to do: engage.
With over 22,808,246 Facebook fans and growing, it’s clear GoT has done almost everything in right in terms of Facebook engagement.
Experiential marketing has grown more popular over recent years, and it’s easy to see why: People, in general, want to experience the things they love.
Game of Thrones has mastered experiential marketing like not many other brands have. Hell, even the Queen of England’s guards jumped in on the fun. The widespread fandom of a show like Game of Thrones can’t be denied, and luckily, the show has ridden this wave in a way that speaks volumes of their commitment to their audience. Here are a few marketing campaigns that have pushed GoT fans out from in front of the TV and into the streets.
Game of Thrones has taken experiential marketing to new levels of crazy, and the results are astonishing. One recent campaign saw HBO partner with the American Red Cross for blood donations at the SXSW festival in Austin. Guests were invited to donate blood and then “walk in the steps of the characters who bled and relive their sacrifices as part of the experience.” If that’s not commitment, we don’t know what is.
Who doesn’t love a good, old-fashioned scavenger hunt? GoT recognized the benefits of gamification, especially for a series as rich with battle and competition. The network hid six scale models of the Iron Throne of Westeros in different spots across the globe, challenging fans to go out and locate them before the Season 8 premiere. All six thrones have been found, in locations from Brazil to Canada, just in time for the start of the final season.
Game of Thrones has done well at looking to outside sources to help their marketing goals come to fruition. One such source was Spotify. GoT partnered with Spotify ahead of the sixth season to produce a site that matched users with GoT characters, based on their listening preferences. Another campaign, “Catch the Throne” in partnership with SoundCloud, involved a two-volume mixtape in collaboration with artists across the world. Another, “#ArtTheThrone”, commissioned five rising artists to create artwork across a variety of mediums. Encouraging fans to express their love of Game of Thrones creatively taps into something that’s remained largely undiscovered by other companies, and it’s part of the reason GoT has amassed such success.
The beauty of Game of Thrones is that it’s not just the storyline fans care about. It’s the show’s actual production, too. From the costumes to the filming locations, fans love to be immersed in the fantasy world of Game of Thrones, and they’re fascinated by how it all came to be. GoT production blog, which offers behind-the-scenes at all things Westeros, offers a level of inclusion fans can really appreciate. This is just one technique producers use to keep fans in the know, and therefore, always engaged.
Podcasts still haven’t lost their luster, and you’d be amazed at how many podcasts revolve totally and completely around Game of Thrones. Encouraging fan podcasts is just one thing GoT has done to elevate its brand awareness, and it’s a genius move. Podcasts cost next to nothing to produce, yet they can contain just as much enthralling content as other production-heavy avenues. Part of great marketing is using all the tools to the fullest, and podcasts are a great example of this.
Of course, creating a movement is made easier when you’re dealing with an HBO budget. Luckily, you don’t need a multi-million dollar marketing budget to create a movement of your own. From social media campaigns to experiential marketing and high-quality video promotion, Triggers can help you transition your audience from bystanders to raving fans of your brand.