Interview With HBO’s Head of Social Media Marketing, Sabrina Caluori

In an interview published by fastcocreate, Christine Champagne asked HBO's Sabrina Caluori about the evolution of HBO Connect and social TV. Here are some excerpts:

"When I came on staff [in 2007] - my original role was a marketing role for - I was looking at social as a potential traffic driver to our digital platforms, and at the time social was really thought of as a campaign tactic. I think the shift that I tried to and I was successfully able to communicate early on was that social is not just a campaign extension but really, truly, it’s a 365-day a year job and having a team internally that really understood the brand voice and that could coordinate with all the teams across the organization through the whole life cycle of a program - not just through a premiere marketing play--could be a real value to us."

"We recognized that social TV was a trend very early on and that HBO, and particularly our programming, was so right for that type of engagement. We felt really early that we needed to be very proactive in the space and in thinking about the space."

"First and foremost, we need to understand how the users are using a platform. And then HBO’s take is we’re not always in a rush to be the first one on a new platform. We like to look at the platform, understand how it’s evolving, understand what users like and appreciate about it and then think about what is the HBO way to go on this platform. For example, we have been watching Tumblr for a long time and looking at the type of user behavior that was on there and thinking about our programming and about our brand and how we could best play in that space in a way that felt organic. And what we decided to do as our first test on the platform was, we had noticed that there are such great artistic creations on Tumblr, and we knew that we wanted to do something that really put kind of art at the heart of it. And we realized that Game of Thrones was inspiring a significant amount of fan art. So our first Tumblr experience is Game of Thrones fan art [at a Tumblr page dubbed Cast A Large Shadow], where we carry the best fan creations, whether that’s interpretations of the theme song or beautiful oil paintings. And we use that as a way for Game of Thrones fans to play in this space that feels organic for the brand."

"In all of our marketing and our communication and our activations, we work with the creators and share what we’re doing with the creators and ensure that it’s extending their vision for the series and for the storylines. We would never, as marketers or as social media people, do anything that was an extension of the story without working very, very closely with the creators and their vision. How involved the talent, in general, more broadly is in social media really depends on how active they are as users of it. So somebody like [Girls creator] Lena Dunham is, by nature, going to be more active and interested in what we’re doing in the social space--and honestly, will have her own ideas and be more collaborative--than some of our other creators who are not quite as active in the space on their own."

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