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Social media and the royal wedding: Who’s engaged? year, despite the many weddings I’m a bridesmaid for, I couldn’t help but think about the upcoming royal nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton. The event, and everything leading up to it, has caused an international media frenzy, similar to the last royal wedding in 1981 when William’s parents (Charles and Diana) were wed. Back then, the public relied solely on traditional media: TV, radio, newspapers. Now, with the Internet, social media and smartphones, things have ramped up several notches. Audiences are much more engaged; the media is faster and more pervasive; and, companies are more aggressive, clever and informed to market to a captive audience.

So, how is social media affecting William and Kate’s much-talked about wedding – or vice versa? Is their royal wedding as big a deal as people seem to think?

Experian Hitwise recently reported that the term “royal wedding” has become the fifth most common version of “wedding” within search-engine rankings.  Big deal? Considering that “wedding” receives almost 55 million global monthly searches, fifth place takes on new meaning. I thought it might be interesting to analyze the conversations surrounding “royal wedding” to get a better understanding of public sentiment and, more importantly, find out who and what are being discussed.

At first glance, Sysomos data suggests that a total of 21.5 million social media Web hits have been reported over the past six months.  Suspicions confirmed: It’s a pretty big deal!

While the enormity of the royal wedding was established, I was a bit surprised to see the ongoing buzz in the past month has far surpassed that of their engagement announcement, despite the brief spike in increased conversation. Then again, this isn’t your average wedding. Most bridesmaids can relax a little in between the engagement and the bridal shower, but from the looks of this popularity curve, William and Kate’s downtime was short-lived. (See “Zoomable Popularity Curve,” at right.)

Hmmm, interesting. But, where were these conversations coming from? What are people talking about that’s causing these highs and lows?

There may be millions of discussions going on about the royal wedding, but if they all originate from the UK, then perhaps it isn’t the global event that I thought it was?  To set myself straight, I went over to the Sysomos heatmaps, which confirmed that William and Kate’s wedding is, in fact, the global phenomenon that I suspected it to be and is probably the most popular one in the social media sphere. (See “Geo Search: City Level,” at left.)

The royal wedding is one thing. But who are people really curious about: William or Kate? And how does that break down by countries, specifically, the US and the UK? I found an interesting comparison of how many folks are discussing “royal wedding” versus “Kate Middleton” versus “Prince William.”  Based on Sysomos data, the US is far more intrigued with Kate Middleton than the UK (31% versus 12%, respectively.) In fact, the UK is more interested in their union and details of the royal wedding than anything else.

So far, we’ve established that the royal wedding is a big deal and that William and Kate are creating a lot of social media buzz. But what exactly are people saying about them? What are the primary topics of conversation? The Sysomos buzzgraph for the “royal wedding” provided some insight. (See “BuzzGraph: ‘royal wedding,” below.)

Based on this buzzgraph, one question sticks out: What (or who) is “Cranston”? From here, I can dig into the context surrounding “Cranston” to deduce that Sophie Cranston is the designer of Kate’s wedding gown.

We can all speculate the reasons why Americans are just as enamored with the British royal family as the Brits are themselves. But, when you compare social media conversations between the two, it appears the US is talking a bit louder. (See “Popularity Comparison,” below.)

Social media monitoring has certainly afforded us with an in-depth look into what people are talking about, particularly when it comes to international events like the royal wedding. Even the revolution in Egypt garnered significant social media activity (take a look at this YouTube video that one of our clients created with Sysomos data). When Harry (William’s younger brother) finds his own princess, what will social media have in store for us? By then, I hope I can uncover even more interesting details about his own royal wedding…and that I can say my bridesmaid days are over.

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