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Game of Thrones fuels battle of the brands on social media

The season premiere of HBO medieval fantasy Game of Thrones incited a flurry of social media posts with brands such as Vogue, State Farm and Mixxtail jumping on board and taking full advantage to appeal to fans of the show. 

The show is one of the most popular running television programs, considered to have a cult-like following, and is often found trending on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. Brands have been posting correlated material to the HBO drama solely to join the popular conversation and relate to consumers. 

"Real-time marketing is an integral part of our social media strategy as we are always on the lookout for timely and relevant ways to engage with our fans and guests," said Todd Smith, chief marketing officer at Sonic, Oklahoma City, OK. "We stay particularly active on Twitter and Facebook and track engagement opportunities with trending topics and individual fans who are discussing our brand.

"Given the broad popularity of Game of Thrones, particularly with millennials, we knew we would have a great opportunity to drive meaningful engagement," he said.

Game of Thrones returned on Sunday night for its fifth season. This means hype surrounding the show is at a high point right now, making this the time for brands to jump in on the conversation. 

The games begin
Brands are utilizing the premiere to their advantage through social media and marketing, while media publications are creating content around the show and sharing to coincide with the trending topics on platforms such as Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook. 

The conversation is heightened even more so now, due to leaked episodes online and users live-streaming the show to those without HBO through Twitter-owned streaming service Periscope. 

It seems that many publications are releasing content incorporating the show, including Buzzfeed, The New York Times and Vogue. Vogue recently shared an article curating fashion pieces that correlate to characters? style from the show, while Buzzfeed is offering a slew of related content such as shared posts from the Internet, games testing fans? plot knowledge, reviews and recaps. 

All of these posts are highly shareable on social media and are created for this reason. These publications send out links with images on social media, using the hashtag #GameofThrones or another related hashtag to open the door to hundreds of thousands of fans and consumers. 

It also appeals to the consumer by showing that the brands have similar interests, making him or her more inclined to engage with them. 

Bud Light?s premade cocktail brand Mixxtail often creates posts coinciding with a popular television show. For the Game of Thrones premiere, it shared a promoted post on Twitter that turned its flavors into different families from the show, with an image similar to the map shown in the Game of Thrones introduction. 

ESPN?s show, SportsNation, is a highly mobile-focused show, often relying on posts from social media to drive content. It is not uncommon for it to incorporate something trending into the show. 

With the premiere of season five, the cast of SportsNation created a Game of Thrones-themed episode and shared pictures throughout social media. 

State Farm shared a photo on Twitter incorporating the dragon plotline of the show. A picture of a man hiding from fire, behind a tree, is shown with the text ?It?s been 5 seasons and your pet still isn?t exactly house trained,? including the hashtags #GameofThrones, #GOT and the brand?s own hashtag #timeto. 

Sonic took to twitter as well with famous quotes from the show but also including other brands as well in a fun humorous effort to grab consumers attention.  

Discovery?s digital network, Animalist, shared an edited video of noises from sloths singing the Game of Thrones theme song. This type of post has multiple elements of creating engagement, including something humorous, reference to a popular television show and cute animals, all elements that can prompt a video to go viral. 

World Wrestling Entertainment shared pictures correlating each wrestler to a family in the show as well. 

Jumping on the bandwagon 
Piggybacking onto trending topics is a growing fad in marketing through mobile, and is something that most likely will increase with time. Game of Thrones is not the only show inciting brands to develop coinciding content.  

With the sign-off nearing for popular AMC drama Mad Men, brands such as Petco, MasterCard and Mixxtail got in on the excitement with themed GIFs on social media during and after the recent season premiere (see more). 

Also, recently Microsoft mobile messaging application GroupMe leveraged multiple popular themes with its new scavenger hunt contest in an attempt to stay relevant (see more). 

This type of promotion is a simple way to promote for brands. The Game of Thrones premiere was GE Software's entry gate into this type of marketing. 

"When we looked at the anticipated audience of Game of Thrones fans we saw a lot of potential overlap with the software and developer community we seek to talk to on Twitter and LinkedIn," said Amy Sarosiek, software communications specialist at GE Software, San Francisco. "With pop culture moments driving so much social media conversation, it is important for us to be strategic when it makes sense for GE Software to participate. 

"This Game of Thrones execution, specifically, was a testable opportunity to gauge how, if, when GE Software can be part of the conversation around trending topics," she said. "We think it is important to test and learn, and it's a practice we plan to continue across GE Software's social media channels when strong opportunities arise."

Final Take
Brielle Jaekel is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer and Mobile Commerce Daily, New York