May 1, 2011 § Leave a comment
The British Royal Family may be the proverbial old dog but it has learned a new trick. The happy couple at the centre of last week’s wedding ceremony deserve congratulations for their part in a flawless showpiece, and so too does the Royal Family’s communications team, for a beautifully executed social media strategy.
Prince William and Princess Kate represent generational change for an at times moribund institution and there was no better way for it to demonstrate the symbolism of renewal than to embrace new social communications channels to help win people over.
The internet’s intrinsic quality is that it allows people to participate. The Royal Wedding was the perfect global spectacle for people to share in and contribute to the atmosphere on the climactic day.
People could view the pomp and ceremony online live on YouTube, there were Twitter and Facebook feeds, and a virtual wedding book allowed members of the public to post videos and photos wishing the newlywed couple well and gave the punters a chance to big note themselves.
The strategy was well integrated with royal websites, blogs and the social media touch points have been a big hit, enabling the public to connect with event and the people at the heart of it.
The jewel in the crown, if you will forgive the phrase, was the Royal Channel on YouTube which live streamed the event and included video highlights, a map of the wedding route, the interactive wedding book and a way to donate to a charitable fund.
Here’s a good summary from Ogilvy on the Royal Wedding as a social media project. The numbers are testimony to the massive online interest. YouTube lists the number of wedding hits on the Royal Channel – over 5 million channel views and 12 million upload views.
@ClarenceHouse The flypast reaches us at Buckingham Palace – whoosh! #rw2011 #royalwedding
@BritishMonarchy How was the #royalwedding #rw2011 for you? Share your stories on our Facebook app: http://tiny.cc/e96x2
The other good news is that the Royal Wedding did not break the internet although Twitter did go spotty at times on Friday night. It could have been worse if most of the Americas had been awake.
There’s plenty of information online on how the event impacted on the internet and infographics such as this one usefully show traffic peaks as they related to the real time event.
In another interesting sign, guests who may have been hoping to tweet their way through the ceremony at Westminister Abbey were foiled by cell phone blocking technology. But who would want to be the person who forgot to turn their cell phone off anyway?
As to be found with events of this scale, there were plenty of oddities to uncover. How about this as the creepiest Royal Wedding photo ever? Or the frowning flower girl who became a meme? And who was the cartwheeling vicar?.
In the battle of the Twitter hashtags, the winner was #royalwedding which trumped the official #rw2011 hashtag by a ratio of about ten to one.
The role the internet played in the Royal Wedding has been unprecedented. All of this is simply remarkable for an institution that is as old as the hills and not known for its sense of abandon and adventure. The Queen’s Facebook page last year drew criticism for the way her moderators deleted comments posted by anti-monarchists.
Conventions and tradition define the British monarchy. It is a vestige of an Empire that faded long ago and it gets its pulling power from its long and colourful history. But what’s remarkable is that, like many businesses and institutions in the digital age, it appears to have taken on board the lesson that it needs to reinvent the way it relates to the public and the way the public relates to it.
For such a fusty establishment as the British Royal Family to embrace social media and use it to enhance what was already guaranteed to be a massive public relations win for it regardless, is a very positive sign. The young couple in line to take over the throne will be influential by very fact that they have grown up in a world very different from the one their parents and grandparents grew up in.
We may look back on this wedding as the first and most obvious evidence of how William and Kate will eventually get their chance to take the monarchy deep into the 21st century. But unfortunately, they may have to wait for some time yet!