Kate & William : a digital wedding

Royal weddings have been passionating the world and the media for a long time. In 1956, Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier under the eyes of 30 billions televiewers and in 1981, 600 billions persons followed the wedding of Lady Diana and Prince Charles on their television screen. Twenty years after his mother, William married Kate Middleton on the 29th April. With no suprise, the event made the headline news, but for the first time, this wedding also created the buzz on the web. How did the emergence of internet and new technologies influence the cover of the most anticipated wedding in decades ? Let’s focus on the social networks Facebook and Twitter and on the website Youtube :  What kind of news and content were circulating on the web before, during and after the D-day ? What can we observ when comparing official and unofficial sources ? To which extend did this event generate the interest of internet users ?

First, in a general way, the wedding of Kate and William was expected to have a big impact on the media. At the beginning of April, a rumour was talking about 2 billards of televiewers in the world. One week before the ceremony, media were already talking of a digital wedding, a wedding 3.0, THE royal ceremony of this cyber-century… and they were right. According to Akamai analyses, the wedding of Kate and William was the 6th most followed events of the world web history with a peak of 5,3 billions of pages seen per minute at 9.30 am, which is better than the election of Obama.

Impossible to miss Kate and William wedding on Facebook. The week-end after the big day there were more than 200 Kate Middleton on the social network. Official or fan pages, serious or funny groups multiply rapidely on the social network. For instance, a fake invitation to the ceremony circulated.

Concerning the official side, the monarchy is on Facebook since 2010. The « royal wedding » facebook page gathered 480.450 fans on the week-end after the ceremony. It provides news, links, video, pictures about the monarchy events in general, but focused on the wedding since around the 27th of April. Before the wedding, it proposed many ways to follow the ceremony. On the D-day, a lot of informations and pictures were posted in almost live and the days following, it still provided details on the ceremony and on the newly weds.

A fan page to congratulate the bride-couple was created on the wedding day. It gathered 115 691 « I like » in three days.

Most of people offered to Kate and William their wishes, but some also posted hostile messages towards the bride.

Kate and William wedding also generate a lot of activity on Twitter. During the ceremony, more than 300 tweets about the wedding were posted per second. Even users with no interest in the event were a part of this trend by complaining about the omipresence of the wedding in media.

The monarchy is on Twitter since 2009. With 129 187 followers, the « Clarence House » provides news, pictures and videos on the royal family. It started focusing on the wedding around the 19th of April and was very active on the D-day with more than fifty tweets about the details of the ceremony in a few hours.

On the unofficial side, katewilliam2011 is followed by 3753 internet users and provides news and gossips about the royal couple. It’s the Twitter account of the blog royalwedding2011 created in November. It provides many detailed on the marriage for weeks and works as a sort of guide into this royal event.

The ceremony was broadcasted in live on Youtube, via the very official « Royal Channel ».

On the wedding day, it seemed to flop : videos posted on the official interface were viewed by only a few hundred cybernauts. But it improved during the week-end following the ceremony. For example, « The Royal Wedding Ceremony at Westiminster Abbey » had been watched only 330 times on the D-day but already 567 360 times on the next Sunday.

A lot of others videos coming from unofficial sources were posted on Youtube. The balcony scene for instance has been viewed more than 2 billions time in three days.

Some videos also make fun of the event, as this parody of the ceremony.

Facebook, Twitter and Youtube are democratized tools : fans and detractors used them to express themselves as the royal family also made use of them to communicate. The content differs, very consensual on the official side, while there is more freedom of speech and humour on the other side. If this royal wedding was a a success on television in terms of audience ratings, internet and new technologies are not outdone. According to first figures, the marriage created a very intense activity on the web : in the top 10 of the most followed events in the web history, Kate and William wedding definitely created the buzz. It was the first royal marriage in this new technologies era, so it’s impossible to make any comparison with another royal event. Let’s wait for Albert  of Monaco and Charlene Wittstock wedding on the 1st and 2nd of July…

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