#waitingsucks How HBO keeps the blood flowing in between seasons of True Blood
Television shows are always trying to attract new viewers while at the same time trying to keep the audience they have interested in their show. Usually this is done through the plot line with a huge cliffhanger at the end of every season leaving you on the edge of your couch wishing away the next few months till the show is back on the air. Most shows will disappear during the off season, leaving you in suspense for a while before you forget, then a week or so before the season premier you are reminded of it with commercials, maybe some billboard signs, or daytime TV interviews of the stars. True Blood on HBO is no different with a huge cliffhanger every season finale leaving you craving for more. However they have evolved, one of the first I believe, to use a variety of media formats to keep interest high during the off season and in fact building a fan base that is more involved and ever expanding even when the show isn't on. HBO and True Blood have an amazing social media promotional campaign! True Blood is no stranger to effective ad campaigns before the show was even on air it had a unique video campaign about the discovery of vampires, which led to the vampires coming out of the coffin, a very important plot in the show. It didn't stop there the show has also used typical ad campaigns like posters and commercials with the exception being that the actors in them were vampires, alluding to the idea that vampires are apart of our society like they are in True Blood.
The show uses social media to keep audiences interactive during the offseason. In my opinion it is one of the first shows that I noticed that used Twitter’s hashtag effectively. A hashtag on Twitter is any word with a # sign in front of it; this connects any tweets with the same word together so that you can see what others have said on that topic even if you are not following them. The hashtag used for Twitter that keeps the unique True Blood fan’s occupied during the off season includes #trueblood and #waitingsucks. The #waitingsucks developed into its own campaign which included weekly behind the scenes and clips from story lines that will not make the show but add to character depth. This release of these teaser clips pull you back into the show months before it airs, even bringing fans back to watch the reruns on HBO. Waitingsucks wasn’t contained just to sneak peeks on HBO; these same clips were available on HBO’s website for True Blood as well as through the True Blood podcast on iTunes and True Blood Facebook page. The waitingsucks campaign has been so effective it has been used for multiple years now. In and of it itself it is self sufficient due to its prevalence on social media sites like Twitter where fans will come up with creative tweets and add the hashtag #waitingsucks throughout the off season. This is part of the new social media world which transfers some of the advertising to the social media users.
Another media campaign True Blood has organized is Jessica’s Blog Baby Vamp. Jessica is a young red headed, newly turned vampire. She is the only character to be turned into a vampire during the show and has a plot line that follows her new life and new cravings. Due to the dynamic of this character and the potential for so much more air time, the blog was created to expand the character, giving the audience more of Jessica. This blog is like any other blog on the internet, it has written posts and video posts, it dives into Jessica’s thoughts and feeling in relation to what has happened in the previous episode. This blog expands the show outside of itself, bringing it into the blogosphere where once again social media and fans make it big. This blog was and is an excellent idea to expand not only the character but continue the interest in the show in between episodes.
A clip from Jessica's blog
Finally, the newest term sired by True Blood and the fans is fangover. It’s used on Mondays after the airing of an episode Sunday night. It refers to analyzing the previous night’s episode, discussing the major events on social media but also discusses the possibilities for the next week’s episode. Fangover also refers to the realization that a new episode is a whole week away! Once again this term, used on social media, keeps interest alive and the focus on the show even on the day after an episode airs.
Also this season a new website which was apart of the plot has been translated to the web, connecting the show to reality. This new site vamps-kill.com is like a watchdog group exposing vampires that kill humans. This allows for more interaction with fans via internet in between episodes and also makes the show feel more realistic.
In all HBO and True Blood have used various media formats in connection with social media to keep the blood flowing in between episodes and seasons. This is important because there is almost a 9 month wait in between True Blood seasons. From the campaigns mentioned above and involvement of loyal fans I would have to say True Blood has succeeded in keeping their audience interactive throughout the year!