Lessons from Piers Morgan, the most influential journo on social media

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As per The Drum today, it seems the former Daily Mirror editor turned most unlikely judge on Britain’s Got Talent has trumped his peers by receiving an award for being the most influential journalist on social media, according to Press Gazette. Needless to say, it’s confirmation of what every Manchester public relations agency has already understood about the gentleman in question, and every other media professional in the country for that matter.
Of course Piers Morgan has always been a divisive character. You don’t get to edit one of the country’s leading tabloid newspapers for so many years without having a few opinions, and by nature opinions will always lead to both agreement and criticism. But what does this tell us about using social media in a successful way in order to build fans and followers, not to mention increasing engagement levels?
Here at Smoking Gun PR we’ve regularly blogged on the changing nature of the content marketing business, and technically speaking anything that goes on social media as a means to boost the position of a brand could be classed as content marketing. Given Piers Morgan has become a brand in himself over the last decade or so this definition applies to his activity on Twitter and the like.
If there’s one aspect of content marketing that’s becoming more and more important then it’s the emotive quality of what companies and individuals share. Our recent-ish article on BuzzFeed is proof enough of this, with the most popular posts therein now centred on subjects designed to pull at the heartstrings or incite strong feelings of any kind in readers, concepts that are becoming universally crucial when it comes to making inroads in the already saturated world of social.
‚ÄúSocial media is the future for journalism whether you’re using it to provoke debate, for information or to be entertained and I’ve embraced it pretty wholeheartedly,” Morgan explained to The Drum after Press Gazette honoured him with the most influential title. And while it’s certainly true that such platforms have cemented their position as news gathering and distribution tools, we’d argue there’s his triumphant victory has more to do with entertaining people than anything else, and he does this through inciting opinions.
Whether it’s biting back at Jeremy Paxman, who claims Twitter is ‘for the brain dead’, taking on Jeremy Clarkson, or launching into diatribes against Sir Alan Sugar, Morgan has never been shy at spouting points of view designed to make people stand up, take notice and form their own thoughts on whatever the matter in question is. Clearly any businesses operating in the digital sphere needs to err on the side of caution when wading in with perspectives, but realistically the overall lesson here should apply to everything from private firms to online personalities. In short then, staying neutral is fast beaching tantamount to being ignored, if not forgotten altogether.