Game Of Thrones: Digital Marketing Case Study
Winter is coming. To celebrate we're taking a look at the Game of Thrones' digital marketing activity and what we can learn from it.
Winter is coming. Or, more specifically, the fifth season of Game of Thrones is airing tonight in the UK (receiving its premier yesterday in the USA).
To celebrate we’re taking a look at the Game of Thrones’ digital marketing activity and what we can learn from it.
Reviewing Game of Thrones’ digital assets
Game of Thrones is one of the most successful entertainment entities in the world. Despite it not being shown on a national broadcaster, the TV show attracts huge ratings in America with the season 4 finale attracting over 7 million viewers– a 32% increase over season 3. According to HBO, the average gross audience for season 4 was 18.4 million viewers – a record for the channel.
HBO have done a fantastic job at integrating its viewers into its marketing campaign – something we have also seen when analysing the Hunger Games digital marketing strategy.
Identifying the power of the superfan to grow their brand and reach exponentially through digital channels, BAA highlights several canny digital marketing strategies that helped propel Game of Thrones to the stratosphere during the third season.
Game of Thrones’ Facebook page
The Facebook page combines a wide variety of content to engage visitors consistently.
Currently the premiere of season 5 takes up the majority of the posts, but as we’ve seen with other successful digital marketing campaigns, Game of Thrones posts promo material, real-life media (red carpet interviews, magazine covers) as well as specialised merchandise (Game of Thrones beer anyone?).
It also includes user generated content (most often in the form of cosplay outfits from fans) which is probably the most intelligent marketing activity that they could do.
Game of Thrones’ Twitter profile
Similar to its Facebook page, the Twitter profile features a wide variety of content and in particular gifs with scenes from the show which are easily viewed thanks to their integration on Twitter (something Facebook sorely lacks). It again also retweets user posts and it’s no surprise they have well over 2 million followers.
One area that Game of Thrones could be far savvier on is its use of hashtags. There’s countless.
From #GoTSeason5 to #GameofThronesSeason5 and then specific hashtags like#TheWarsToCome or #CatchDrogon. Then you have the high level hashtags of#GOT and #GameofThrones to make matters worse.
Whilst it’s not uncommon to use campaign specific hashtags for specific marketing pushes, Game of Thrones seems to use them like my mum uses lol.
We’d recommend trying to cut down on the number of hashtags used rather than diluting their impact.
Game of Thrones’ Google+ profile
Surprisingly for such a digital marketing savvy brand, the Google+ profile leaves a lot to be desired. The default profile connected to the YouTube channel not only has the default Google+ background picture, but it also doesn’t have the Google+ URL.
It appears as though the account is no longer updated – which is a shame because it has significantly more followers and views. It’s hard to say if this was ever the official account but they’d be wise to maximise its use. Additionally the lack of control here has meant that fan owned profiles have shot up and are highly popular.
Game of Thrones’ YouTube channel
Unsurprisingly for a TV show, Game of Thrones has a very popular YouTube channel.
But it goes one step further than simply uploading promo videos or red carpet interviews. It also includes videos from the Game of Thrones Season 5 mixtape (yes you heard that right – they’ve actually launched a mixtape to promote the season to core demographics).
It also includes behind the scenes videos and a ’History & Lore’ series which gives fans even more content to devour and immerse themselves in the GoT world.
Game of Thrones’ Instagram account
The Game of Thrones Instagram channel has a wider variety of posts, with all of them feature the Funko Pop vinyl toys based on the series. Whether its recreating scenes from the show with the figures, or the stars of the show modelling them, it’s a cute touch and a clearly defined strategy for the channel.
However, it makes the profile somewhat one-dimensional and if you’re not interested in the vinyl figures (although I love them and have a couple), you’d switch off fairly quickly.
Game of Thrones’ Vine channel
The Game of Thrones Vine channel is – as you might expect – dominated by trailer clips of the upcoming season 5 but it is also used for cross channel marketing promotions (such as the #CatchDrogon campaign).
Potential new digital channels
Two new social media platforms that Game of Thrones may wish to incorporate into their digital marketing are Pinterest and Meerkat.
Pinterest could prove highly successful thanks to the focus on visual content. Potentially it could be used for promoting user generated content which currently doesn’t get much love (they could have a board for Fan of the Week to encourage viewer participation and interaction).
Meerkat also represents another opportunity for the brand. Mashable recently used it to broadcast the premier which attracted hundreds of viewers of its broadcast.
It will be interesting to see how broadcasters respond to Meerkat (live broadcast is perhaps better suited to live events like concerts, protests or premiers) – could we start to see simulcasts across TV and social media platforms?
Currently that future is a long way off as the HD broadcast far exceeds the connection speed reliant Meerkat but that future may not be too far away from the truth.
It will be interesting to see how streaming TV platforms grow from here and with HBO’s launch of HBO Now it might be more than just Netflix and Amazon Instant Video that react to mobile’s march onwards.
Game of Thrones’ website presence
One area that potentially lets down the digital presence is its website setup. If you google Game of Thrones, the HBO microsite comes up but this is uninspiring and does little to elicit user engagement.
The gameofthrones.com website is little more than a gateway page sending visitors to other domains. All in all, we’ve found the following domains:
It seems a bit of a shame to split the official sites as much as they have done. I can understand the separate blog domain and the Tumblr account but the TLD’s use seems to be an afterthought. And whilst it has a somewhat more engaging design, there is little to do here apart from visit on of their other domains.
The international broadcasters also have microsites dedicated to the series creating further inconsistency but this is probably unavoidable.
War of the Five Shows
So how does Game of Thrones compare to the competition? We’ve selected 4 other shows to compare it with:
- Vikings (History Channel)
- The Walking Dead (AMC)
- True Blood (HBO)
- House of Cards (Netflix)
These were based on popularity, similarity in audience demographic and theme.
The Walking Dead absolutely *walks* (bah!) all over the competition – overshadowing Game of Thrones and leaving much of the competition in its wake.
It’s surprising to see just how far ahead it is compared to Game of Thrones considering that it didn’t premier that much earlier than GoT. It might be the case that thanks to The Walking Dead’s more readily available broadcast (not on premium cable) it has attracted a much larger audience quicker.
Again, The Walking Dead is far ahead of Game of Thrones,but both of the TV shows are far ahead of the competition (although True Blood has obviously completed its run).
Interestingly, this is the only channel we analysed where House of Cards didn’t come last – perhaps again due to it being on a subscription service. However, it’s surprising to see how low its social media following is at the moment considering its cultural and word-of-mouth impact.
The Walking Dead storms ahead again and, for now, rules the social media sphere like the Lannister’s rule King’s Landing.
Interestingly when we look at the number of followers earned for each post, we can see the gap is closer. Game of Thrones has 1,232 followers for each post, whilst The Walking dead has 1,856 followers for each post.
The Walking Dead’s followers per post rate is 50% higher than Game of Thrones, which is still a significant lead. However, when put into context that The Walking Dead has 268% more followers, Game of Thrones has a higher amount of engagement on Instagram.
So there we have it - Game of Thrones season 5 has kicked off and it’ll be interesting to see how their digital presence grows over the coming episodes. If they can grow their digital audience like they’ve done their broadcast audience we could see a digital marketing presence that rivals that of entertainment’s biggest brands.
Are you going to be tuning in to tonight’s premier? Let us know what you think of the Game of Thrones’ digital marketing strategy in a comment below - we’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions.