How the Royal Observatory reached a global audience with a ‘miniscule’ budget

Using Facebook Live, the Royal Observatory in Greenwich managed to reach hundreds of thousands of people with a series of broadcasts of astronomical events direct from its telescopes on a “miniscule” budget of £550.

Royal Observatory GreenwichThe Royal Museums in Greenwich wanted to extend the reach and reputation of the Royal Observatory and improve public understanding of astronomy with an innovative, engaging and effective marketing campaign. The only problem? It had a “miniscule budget” of just £550.

That did not deter the in-house team, which set about working on a new project – Space LIVE. It aimed to broadcast major astronomical events such as the 2018 lunar eclipse and Ramadan new crescent moon sighting to audiences worldwide using Facebook live.

Combining live-streams, astronomers’ commentary, user-generated content and SEO, as well as press channels to drive awareness, it delivered its goal. The campaign reached more than 310,000 people on Facebook and generated 193,000 views and 100,000 engagements, as well as driving 360,000 visits to the observatory’s website. It also achieved a number one search ranking on Google.

Alongside this, the campaign won a Marketing Week Masters Award for Best Use of a Small Budget.

How the campaign was built

The campaign had five key objectives:

  • Extend RMG’s reach and reputation
  • Enrich public understanding of space and astronomy
  • Provide enjoyable, engaging experiences in an accessible format
  • Innovate with purpose
  • Demonstrate effectiveness and potential for future investment.

The installation in 2018 of a new telescope opened up the opportunity to capture and share footage online. Combined with the expertise of its astronomers, RMG saw an opportunity to engage audiences online.

Because RMG did not have the budget to drive awareness through the usual channels, it built audiences using lower cost channels including Facebook Live, SEO and press coverage of noteworthy events. It also worked with partners such as the New Crescent Moon society and NASA to help RMG reach new audiences.

Viewers were encouraged to like RMG’s Facebook page and share their own content. The observatory also promoted an astrophotography Facebook group and its space-focused newsletter.

The work was all done in-house, with the budget used only for Facebook advertising.

The campaign led to stellar results for RMG. Its coverage of the lunar eclipse in 2019 had more video views than any other event from a museum globally and viewers were almost 5,000% higher than the international museum average. It also had the highest Facebook interaction rate for a museum Facebook page.

There was lasting benefit too. Facebook page likes experienced a 1,173% uplift, its astrophotography group increased 307% and there was 18% growth in sign-ups to its space specific email newsletter.