Sales & Marketing

Six lessons from the Royal Family about marketing your business online

9 min read

10 June 2016

As the Queen continues celebrating her 90th birthday and has an Instagram video debut with Prince Harry, here's a look at what Britain’s most famous family can teach us about building a business’ reputation online

Image: Shutterstock

In April, Her Royal Highness, The Queen, started celebrations to mark her 90th birthday, with multiple events being held across the UK and the Commonwealth over the coming months.

The outpouring of support for HRH and her family over the last few years, especially surrounding events such as 2011’s royal wedding and the births of Prince George and Princess Charlotte, suggests that Brand Royal, despite being arguably one of the oldest in existence, continues to be relevant and well-loved today.

Research from YouGov backs up the assertion that the monarchy remains popular across all parts of British society, finding that 68 per cent believe the institution to be good for the country and that 71 per cent want the British monarchy to remain.

So what can businesses wanting to build a strong and well-respected online brand learn from the Royal Family?

Here are my top six lessons your brand should learn from the Royal Family’s marketing machine:

(1) Have a consistent voice on social media

The Queen sent her first tweet on 24 October 2014, and since then it appears the Twitter account @RoyalFamily has been written by her office, updating followers with news about HRH and her family. However, it was the Duke of York who was the first Royal to launch his own personal Twitter account @TheDukeOfYork, with tweets signed “AY” written by the Duke himself.

No one really expects the Queen to be drafting and sending her own tweets, but the @RoyalFamily thrives with a steady, consistent stream of posts that provide an authentic, personal touch – from sharing pictures of the pile of birthday cards that arrived for HRH to family videos of Prince Charles as a child. A brand that stays true to what it represents rather than just sharing what it thinks others want is key.

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(2) Humanise your brand

There are a number of things brands can do to be more human and therefore attractive to consumers, including showing a sense of humour, using everyday language and engaging in conversation.

Prince Harry and the Queen highlighted this perfectly in their first Instagram video as they responded to a teasing message from the Obamas’ about Harry’s Invictus games in Orlando.

And, although it would be extremely difficult for the Royals to reply to every comment or question, retweeting shows they’re aware and appreciative of the message. It’s also a quick and easy way to boost engagement and gain followers. For example, @BritishMonarchy retweeted astronaut Tim Peak’s birthday wish.

Having a Twitter handle makes individuals feel that they’re only one click away from their idols and favourite brands – which managed well can build a real, emotive connection with followers. The Royal Family of course has to maintain a certain level of decorum and we wouldn’t expect to see the Queen posting #foodie pictures on Instagram, or using Twitter to poke fun at other members of her family – though they can leave the parody accounts to do that for them:

Continue reading on the next page for more on giving your business that regal touch.

Image: Shutterstock

(3) Embrace new channels and platforms

First and foremost, brands need to make sure they know which channels and platforms their key audiences are using, and offer engaging, shareable content that will surprise and delight them. The digital landscape is constantly evolving, with new services and social media platforms springing up all the time.

The Royals have been keeping abreast of these services, joining YouTube back in 2007 and Flickr in 2010, streaming both up-to-the-minute images and videos of Royal engagements and archive material.

At the start of the Queen’s birthday celebrations in April, the @RoyalFamily account even shared a live Periscope stream of the crowds in Windsor. They later followed this with a time-lapse video of the motorcade through the town.

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(4) Keep your website fresh

Despite the Royal Family being steeped in tradition, the Royal website upgrade in April, which includes mobile compatibility, embedded social media and video, rolling infinite scrolling pages and a simpler search facility, shows how Buckingham Palace aims to reach those of us who are increasingly connected.

With 48 per cent of Europeans using three or more devices and 62 per cent of internet users globally either researching or purchasing their last product online, brands that fail to cater to these users could be risking their reputation and profits.

Get the final majestic marketing tips on the next page.

Image: Shutterstock

(5) Protect your brand

With everyone now able to share what they have seen or heard in an instant, brands need to inform their staff of the rules and security policies around social media, and ensure they have a plan in place if things go wrong.

A few simple usage guidelines and some media training could protect your brand’s reputation from unsuitable comments from spokespeople or inappropriate posts or behaviour outside the workplace. For example, the occasional gaffe made by the Duke of Edinburgh or the party antics of Prince Harry…

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(6) Ensure your brand’s chosen domain is suitable for its audience

The recent website relaunch of the “home of the British Monarchy” also included a strategic move to Royal.uk from Royal.org.uk. This move follows the launch of shorter, sharper .uk web domains to go alongside .co.uk, org.uk and other .uk endings back in 2014.

The decision by the Royal Family to end its official website in .uk illustrates an important consideration for any brand’s website. If your customer base is largely in the UK, or if your brand has an inherent Britishness that’s important to its identity or to its customer base, then choosing a .uk domain name makes sense.

With so many more domains to choose from now – including everything from .food to .football – choosing the right one for your business and audience is more important than ever.

So, next time you’re revising your brand’s social media strategy, or taking a fresh look at how it’s perceived online, why not take a look at how Her Majesty does it.

Or, if you think you have what it takes already, in the wake of the Queen’s 90th birthday, Buckingham Palace is now seeking to secure continued public support by hiring a new head of digital engagement. Either way, good luck.

Russell Haworth, CEO of Nominet

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