NBC News Brings the Monarch into the Digital Age

The royal wedding may still be more than a week away, but the conversation around the upcoming marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton has already started trending on Twitter.

Last week alone, 43,000 tweets mentioned the impending royal nuptials. And news organizations are looking to get in on the conversation.

NBC News in particular, which has one of the more ambitious television coverage plans, has made digital a core part of its strategy for the event. Its official Twitter account @royalwedding currently has over 8,800 followers, and has grown by more than 2,500 followers in five days.

When Charles and Diana married 31 years ago, it was certainly a social event; people held viewing parties with their friends. The difference in the Wills and Kate sequel is the party now exists in social media, and the amount of interest around the event can be quantified in tweets and Facebook “likes.”

And the months of buzz leading up to the royal wedding has given news orgs the chance to tap into a social TV event at a level usually reserved for the Super Bowl or the Oscars. “For any big live televised event, people get together and have parties around it,” says Mark Lukasiewicz, vice president, NBC News specials and digital media. “That’s not always the case for news viewing. But for an event like this, it is,”

NBC News’ @royalwedding Twitter handle is a centerpiece of its social strategy, though that’s not apparent to the casual follower. Nothing about the account’s nomenclature or profile is branded “NBC”; the only mention of its corporate ownership is its Today show URL: windsorknot.today.com.

The subtlety is on purpose, says Ryan Osborn, NBC News’ director of social media, an effort to organically be part of the conversation surrounding the wedding. And the story of how NBC nabbed the generic handle is simple — they asked first. “It was something that we grabbed a while ago because we knew it would naturally be a part of the online watercooler,” says Osborn, who got the account from Twitter in November.

The Twitter feed curates content from across the Web, but especially on the day of the wedding will be pointing to NBC’s coverage on air and its live stream online in hopes of reaching a bigger audience for both.

“At the end of the day, those viewers who get involved, online, in social media, in digital are more likely to come to their television sets and watch one of the NBC platforms on wedding day,” says Lukasiewicz

NBC News is also working with TV check-in services Tunerfish, GetGlue and GoMiso to explore how people are sharing what they are watching around a big live event. And it will use Trendrr to provide metrics behind the conversation. “Those metrics can serve as important data points,” says Osborn. “For example, ‘when do people start calling her Princess Catherine?’ ‘What is the reaction to her dress?’ We’ll see that in real time.”

Seems the centuries-old monarchy has finally been pulled into the modern age.