Digital royal wedding: or #rw2011
Could 29 April give us the biggest live event the internet has ever seen? I’m talking of course about the Royal Wedding, which will attract a huge global television audience. But this morning St James’s Palace unveiled plans to make the day a huge interactive event - and the first Royal wedding with a Twitter hashtag #rw2011.
The fact that the engagement was announced via the @Clarencehouse Twitter account showed the Palace’s digital ambitions - now the hope is to follow that up with a truly interactive and social media wedding. “This is first for us,” a spokesman said at a briefing this morning. “It’s a new and exciting way to add to the enjoyment of the Royal Wedding.”
So the official Royal Wedding website will be at the centre of an operation which will use Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Flickr to provide material about the day’s events - and to solicit content from the public.
The biggest innovation is that the broadcast footage of the royal wedding will be live streamed on the Royal Channel on YouTube. The pictures will be from the BBC - but the commentary will be in the form of a live blog, provided by a couple of St James’s Palace press officers typing away furiously, while keeping an eye on Twitter and other networks.
There’s another YouTube innovation - a video Wedding Book launched today which allows anyone to send a message of congratulations to the happy couple. You won’t be surprised to hear that will be pre-moderated.
Then there’s a Facebook Event on the British Monarchy page, where you can click to say “I’m attending” the Royal wedding. No guarantee that you will receive an invitation to the Abbey, but the promise is that you will have a “virtual” experience of the day, and Facebook is also launching a “Stories” app inviting anyone to describe how they celebrate the day.
Google will play a key role in keeping this operation afloat, running the YouTube channel and hosting the official website as a Google app.
So far, the website, with nine million page views, has enjoyed reasonable if not spectacular traffic. But on the day, it could come under a lot of strain with millions around the world experiencing the wedding as a “two-screen event”, watching the television while interacting online.
The wedding could surpass Barack Obama’s inauguration as a live web event, testing the web infrastructure in the same way as the National Grid used to see a power surge when people put the kettle on after a big football match. Let’s hope Google has a data centre or two on standby.
One question - why is the Palace doing all this, when the web population will be providing plenty of its own content around the wedding? We are told that it’s partly because Prince William and Kate Middleton are part of a generation that has grown up in a digital, interactive world - and are themselves enthusiastic users of new media.
But there are limits. Asked whether either of the couple would be updating their relationship status on Facebook on 29 April, a spokesman smiled and said: “Pass.”