About halfway through the final episode of Game of Thrones on Sunday night, I realized that I knew exactly what was going to happen.

No, I don't have the ability to see into the future. Instead, I have this strange desire to keep reading things on the internet when I know I shouldn't. And for some unknown reason, I decided last week to read spoilers published to Reddit.

I've always been a big fan of Reddit. It's a place where people can come together to share their love of any number of topics. And although it can be a place for discontent, it's also a place where some of the biggest news stories leak before they hit the mainstream.

So, suffice it to say that I knew what I was doing when I clicked on the Freefolk subreddit and started reading my way through the spoilers. I was brought through the final script, key scenes, and even who would end up on the Iron Throne.

I read how this user had accurately leaked Game of Thrones scripts in the past. I hoped--for no good reason--that the person would be wrong this time around. Instead, the synopsis was spot on. As I watched the final episode, I couldn't help but shake my head. I had read about it all just days prior.

It's my own fault. The subreddit warned that I was about to read spoilers, and to keep going at my own risk. I ignored those warnings because, well, the suspense of waiting until Sunday was getting to me. And although part of me knew that reading through the synopsis was a bad idea, another (stronger) part of me wanted me to keep going.

It made me think about business and the impact Reddit or social media sites can have on a company's announcements.

A 'Game of Thrones' Business Case

The fact is, those Reddit leaks did little to affect Game of Thrones. Sure, some of us who couldn't wait to see what happened on Sunday learned about the finale ahead of time, and surely there was an opportunity for millions to check out the post and ditch their Sunday viewing.

But Game of Thrones was a phenomenon. And even though I was armed with all the knowledge of what was to come, there wasn't a single chance I'd miss the show's final airing. So, perhaps HBO's decision not to respond or even acknowledge the leaks made sense. Talking about them, even if they were accurate, would only bring them to light even more.

But what about using Reddit and social media sites in another way? What if, as part of a product rollout or big announcement, Reddit becomes the vehicle by which the announcement is made?

I'm always surprised when companies don't leverage Reddit more broadly in their strategic rollouts. You should want--more than anything else--a big, broad announcement that attracts everyone. In order to achieve that, you need scale. And to achieve scale, you need a platform that people interested in a particular topic can get behind.

How Your Startup Can Take Advantage

Reddit hits all those marks. So, let's talk through a theoretical scenario.

You're launching the next great app around the concept of food and recipes. If Reddit is in your rollout plan, you head over there and find subreddits around the topics you care about most, like /r/Cooking or /r/Recipes. What now?

Start to engage the community, share good content, and become an otherwise positive contributor. When you're ready to launch your next big thing, go back to the subreddit, share what you've created, and ask for any support from the community if they like what they see. It's a long-play strategy--and it can work.

A word of caution: Redditors are really serious about their communities, so don't try to game the system and use a subreddit purely for your own gain. Keep sharing content you know the community loves. Become a real, solid contributor to that community. Over time, you--and your product--will benefit.

I'm not saying that brands, services, or products wouldn't be popular or get attention without Reddit's help. I am saying that it can be a key factor in building a brand. And in some cases, it can be a key factor in helping to strengthen a brand.

Like it or not, Game of Thrones was bolstered by Reddit. And in many ways, your company could be helped, as well.

So, next time you have something to announce, do some Reddit work. Analyze where the people are in your industry, see what they're talking about, and determine whether your announcement could be something they care about. If it is, you could stand to gain in many ways.

Published on: May 20, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.