“Game of Thrones” began life in the early 1990s as author George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire,” a series of novels following prominent warring families vying to rule the Seven Kingdoms and sit on the Iron Throne. In April 2011 HBO brought the fantasy-drama to television, and it wasn’t long before the show’s penchant for ruthless characters, unexpected deaths, and political twists had legions of fans glued to their televisions, and to Twitter, cementing it in pop culture history.
Today, the Game Of Thrones handle has over 8.5 million followers, but before the show even aired, it made its mark on Twitter as a hashtag — an easy way to provide casting updates and reassure readers of Martin’s books that the show would do right by the source material. Around the same time, in 2010, Giannusa arrived at HBO as an associate manager, tasked with building an online fan community for the highly anticipated show, just as she’d previously done for MTV’s “The Hills” and “Jersey Shore.”
Back then, social media was a completely different landscape, an uneven topography ripe with experimentation, exploration, and mild confusion. Twitter, for its part, was just four years old at the time, still a text-only platform known primarily for “microblogging.” In that ecosystem, social media managers had more in common with content moderators. “You managed feeds,” Giannusa says. “You put out news.” Nine years later, as Twitter and other social media platforms have matured to become the focal point of pop culture, the role has changed. “Now we have a responsibility to our fans to have that one-to-one authentic communication with them. We're essentially the face of the brand.”