Season 3 of HBO’s hit TV series Girls premiered Sunday, and its debut was preceded by a social media blitz that only a show so deeply entrenched in the lives of 20-somethings could pull off.
There were Instagram videos, Facebook updates, Tumblr posts, Pinterest pins, tweets, vines, and even Snapchat snaps going out in full force in the weeks leading up to Sunday night’s double-episode premiere, which was pitted against the Golden Globes (where the show’s creator and star, Lena Dunham, was nominated for Best Actress in a TV Series, musical or comedy).
Why social media?
A year ago, prior to the show’s second season, HBO’s vice president of social media and marketing, Sabrina Caluori, told Mashable that the show lends itself to a non-seasonal approach to social media—even when the show is off the air, its official Twitter, Tumblr, etc. remain active because its fan base connects and identifies so well with the characters.
This time around, she commented that the show’s target audience is “an increasingly challenging demographic to reach with traditional means,” which led them to focus primarily on social media to promote the new season. Given the demographics of each social network, we think they made the right call.
So how did the blitz play out?
HBO started building anticipation for the new season as early as three months ago when a photo of the season 3 start date written in lipstick on a mirror received almost 14,000 likes on Instagram. (The next picture one month later, which simply read “2 MONTHS,” was liked by nearly 14,500 fans.)
Two weeks out from the premiere, they then launched an Instagram video series in which Lena Dunham explains how she thinks her character Hannah would feel about any number of timely topics (New Year’s Eve, juice cleanses, and the show Girls, to name a few). This was a smart move on HBO’s part considering the high number of the show’s fans that relate to and/or are fascinated by Dunham’s character.
Next, they garnered some more traditional media attention by becoming one of a growing number of brands to join Snapchat, and HBO has announced that they’ll continue using the account to distribute sneak peeks throughout the season. Despite the short-lived nature of content on the app, they’re making the most of it by sharing the snaps as .gifs.
This is a good example of how to tailor content for each social network individually: videos presenting complete thoughts are posted to Instagram while more flippant content is spread through Snapchat and then looped as .gifs on Tumblr. Unique to Facebook are recaps of different character arcs as illustrated by emojis.
Throughout the blitz, the girlsHBO Twitter feed has continued to be as active as ever—I tried to check how many tweets and retweets they sent out over the course of a day and lost count at 46.
Finally, HBO uploaded the first two episodes of the season to YouTube less than 12 hours after they had first aired. Considering that watching HBO requires paying for a subscription, offering up these episodes for free is a smart way to get more people to watch the show.
Was it a success?
In addition to hitting a series-high of 1.1 million viewers on Sunday night, both episodes on YouTube have attracted over 140,000 combined views as of Tuesday morning. The show was also renewed for a fourth season before the premiere of the third, so I’d say Girls must be doing something right.