Why has the BBC chosen to leave Twitter out in the cold for Queen's Jubilee coverage?

A blog from The Drum's editor, Stephen Lepitak, covering reaction to events in media, social media, marketing, advertising and communications in general.

Having witnessed a hula hooping Grace Jones (see main image) wish a happy birthday to Her Majesty, while standing on a stage outside of Buckingham Palace in front of a crowd of thousands, I find it odd that the BBC didn’t think it appropriate to include those discussing such an incredible moment on Twitter.

The criticism of the BBC’s coverage of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations on Sunday, apparently led by Stephen Fry, seems to have died a little since last night’s concert outside the Royal Palace, but Twitter followers were still highly cynical judging by tweets sent ahead of Tom Jones taking to the stage.

Stephen Fry was credited with leading criticism of the BBC’s water logged coverage of the Jubilee Pageant down the Thames, describing it as ‘mind-numbingly tedious’.

This description led most of the newspapers coverage the next morning, and led to him tweeting last night; “Oh lor didn’t mean to connect depression with the jubilee concert: haven’t seen it. I’m in enough trouble after dissing the beeb yesterday!” as he tuned into watch the concert itself. Not that the BBC could highlight any of these tweets, as it chose not to include them in its own coverage.

That the concert hashtag #jubileeconcert trended throughout as a host of big name stars such as Elton John, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Kylie Minogue, Robbie Williams, Gary Barlow, as well as the aforementioned 62-year old Grace Jones, is not a surprise. What is however is that the BBC seemed to choose to completely ignore the platform, rather than engage with the audience viewing across two screens and discussing what was going on.

I’ve contacted the BBC Press office to ask why this was, and have been assured that they will ask the producer and get back to me, but I find it an odd decision to take as social media drives audience figures and builds engagement. This was meant to be an event to connect the people with the Royal Family, so it’s strange that the most vocal of communications platforms should be left out in the cold by the public service broadcaster.

Speaking to Twitter analytics company BirdSong this morning, I was informed that the BBC’s use of Twitter was generally quite ‘fragmented’ and while the activity on Twitter discussing the jubilee has #diamondjubilee, this was not exclusive to the BBC, which did not launch a single account to maintain coverage or drive discussion.

Activity from @BBCLondonNews did cover some activity, but that was made up of infrequent tweets from BBC Presenters. Other BBC presenters were also found to tweet infrequently from events, with BBC Five Live’s Richard Bacon tweeting pictures from backstage at the Concert yesterday leading up to and during the event, while another presenter, Sophie Raworth hadn’t tweeted since Sunday’s Pageant.

The BBC’s dedicated Jubilee webpage offers a great deal of retrospective content on the Queen’s 60-year reign, but does not aim to drive an audience towards social activity, failing to engage with any user of Twitter entirely.

So as I write this, I have no answer for the lack of social media engagement, but I can understand why there was such criticism of the coverage, when a fortune has been spent on ensuring hundreds of cameras capture proceedings, but not one Twitter account or hashtag has been set up to speak to an audience discussing the Queen’s Jubilee and watching the BBC’s coverage. The BBC probably used the same strategy it used for the Golden Jubilee celebrations, but that was 10 years ago, and like the Queen herself, time moves on and the BBC must accept it.

Hopefully for the 70th anniversary it learns that lesson and opens up the conversation.

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