Royal Wedding 2011: When Did the Monarchy Become so Social-Media Savvy?

For an institution that is often reviled for being completely outdated, the British Royals are sure teaching us a thing or two about being social-media savvy.

As the countdown for Prince William's wedding to Kate Middleton continues (counting down, anyone?), look at some of the official Royal social media efforts to draw people in from around the globe:

And that's not even counting the apps, ebooks, and heaven-knows-what-else other organizations are releasing to cash in on the frenzy, er, festivities (ABC News has a pretty comprehensive roundup).

Cor blimey!

But back to the Royals. Here's an institution which has, for centuries, retained its mystique by locking itself away in a proverbial ivory tower, and now it has made a huge about-face.

I'm no royal expert, but it looks to me like the Monarchy is taking the opportunity to capitalize on the goodwill (and fascination) that a lot of people still have for Will's mom, aka the late Diana, Princess of Wales. (I must confess, I was a fan.) And perhaps -- though don't quote me on it -- the Monarchy is leveraging nearly every social media tool imaginable to counter the "little" image problem said Royals have been grappling with since the passing of said Princess D.

The official line from the palace is that the digitally savvy Prince Will and Kate just want more folks to be able to watch.

Whatever it is, the sheer social media saturation is pretty remarkable -- and instructive.

Yes, the Royals have the resources to do so, but we've talked before about how you don't have to spend a ton of money to "get" social, whether it's becoming a media source or building your community to "back" your way into PR.

You don't have to spend a lot of money (though you do have to spend the time). But most of all, you do have to have the desire to actually connect with people, who might turn into potential customers and evangelizers.

So if a centuries-old institution that, in earlier years, couldn't have spelled the word "social" if you'd put an Oxford dictionary in front of it, is now not just using social media, but embracing it...

Why can't you?
Shonali Burke is Principal of Shonali Burke Consulting where she helps turn businesses' communication conundrums into community cool. She opines on PR and social media at Waxing UnLyrical and is considered one of 25 women that rock social media.