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Social Media: HBO’s Marketing Lifesblood

The creatures and inhabitants of Bon Temps are back for the summer, and with last night’s True Blood premiere, it appears we’re in for another couple of months teeming with over the top violence and gore, adult situations and Jessica Hamby.

Admittedly, an ex-girlfriend of mine fought by hell or high water to convince me that the HBO staple was more than gratuitous visuals and campy nonsense. I avoided it like leprosy or liver and onions; only daring to peer into the living room to see if the opening sequence to Entourage had begun rolling and it was finally safe to assume my position on the couch. Then something strange happened. Whether it was Twitter or Facebook, I could not escape the allure of these Louisiana vampires. After being inundated online with True Blood to the point of saying ‘uncle,’ I gave it a shot; and like every previously skeptical American: I loved it. By dominating the social media stratosphere, the PR department at HBO has made it virtually impossible to escape True Blood, and it’s one of television’s most successful shows because of it.

@TrueBloodHBO, the official handle for the show, maintains a prolific presence on Twitter that has contributed to the show’s continued success. With a sage-like mastery of frequency and repetition on the social media platform, the folks on True Blood’s team have tweeted over 8,500 times. Updates include engaging the audience with recaps and retweeting users’ usage of show-specific hash tags such as ‘#tbmoments,’ and on the eve of the premiere included links to a live Q & A with cast member Rutina Wesley.

By making audience awareness and participation an integral piece in their marketing model, True Blood has enjoyed a CDC-alert level of viral success. What many newcomers seeking to increase the visibility of themselves or their brand online fail to realize about social media marketing is that blanketed self-promotion is the antithesis of what makes utilizing outlets like Facebook and Twitter so successful. The key is subtlety and engaging and fostering a conversation about you or your product, not forcing promotional tidbits onto the streams or newsfeeds of your followers. This is where HBO’s staff excels, and it reflects in their annual ratings.

Last night’s online figures support this assessment. With over 242,000 combined comments across Facebook and Twitter during last night’s premiere, True Blood broke records is poised to dictate the flow of social media trends this summer. The vampire-drama has had a firm impact on pop-culture, in the real world and the Internet, and as much as it once pained me to admit, it boils down to the series and its dedicated promotion just being bloody good.   

-Carter Breazeale
PR/PR Public Relations

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