Social Media in Britain: Not Just For The Common Folk

Great Britain is not just tea and watercress sandwiches. It is also the land of twitters, tweets, webs, youtubes and podcasts. 40,2 million people are online – 66% of the population of 61,1 million people.  The colonial masters are leading the way over their former colonies with the USA, Canada and Australia lagging well behind.

Queen and Podcast

A newly released emarketer survey reveals that more than 15.4 million people – or nearly 40% of all UK Internet users –will use social media websites at least once a month this year. Looking at the top 20 websites in the United Kingdom rated by Alexa, an online website ranking service, reveals a nation with a great affinity for social media:  Eight of the top twenty internet sites visited regularly are social media sites – #2 Facebook, #4 Youtube, #9 Wikipedia, #11 Blogger, #12 Twitter, #15 MySpace, #17 Flickr and #18 WordPress.com. Emarketer predicts by 2013, 50% of all UK Internet users will have joined the social media community.

This fact has not escaped Buckingham Palace. As part of modernizing the Monarchy, the Palace has embraced social media with fervor.

The Royal Family has got its own Youtube Channel, called The Royal Channel -“The Official Channel of the British Monarchy”. From small beginnings in October 2007, the Channel today has more than 27.500 subscribers. Those people and others with a fascination for the comings and going of her Majesty at al have made more than two million hits since the site was launched. For the interested, there are details of which member of the family has royal engagements and whose common hand will be shaken that day. Nearly 60,000 loyal subjects watched the Obama cavalcade go through the gates of the Palace, a moment so solemn that the video was without commentary.

The Youtube initiative has been so successful that the Palace has embedded itself even further in the social media culture. The Family has its own Twitter account @BritishMonarchy that has already attracted more than 11,300 followers. Not bad for something that is less than a month old! It is not all good news for those of us who hang on every personal detail of the Family for, a Buckingham official announced that Twitter will only be used to publicize general news about the Royal Family. No royal family member would be tweeting about own lives. Tweets rarely vary from proclamations of official royal engagements, such as “The Prince of Wales, as Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Air Corps, addresses 4 Regiment Army Air Corps […]” It appears that the contents of the Royal handbag will forever remain a mystery.

But there’s more!  www.royal.gov.uk is more than just a homepage -it is an information center with a simple but very efficient and innovative structure, which makes it easy to navigate and uses the latest online must-haves, such as RSS and an interactive calendar. One can find out where a Family member is, online, real time!

Obama had not done his homework when he gave her Majesty an I-pod on his recent visit to the Palace, he may as well have arrived with a Walkman. Her Majesty had already embraced this technology and was moving onto the next must-have. Obviously, he missed the Queen’s 2007 annual Christmas on his iPod!

– Moritz

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