For someone who didn't understand the point of Twitter less than a year ago, Piers Morgan has sure made a name for himself quickly on the social media platform. “I’ve made no secret of the fact that I was Twitter’s biggest enemy and then became its biggest fan,” says Morgan, host of Piers Morgan Tonight and judge on America’s Got Talent.
Morgan joined Twitter in November 2010 at the request of Piers Morgan Tonight’s digital producer, Steve Krakauer. He soon discovered that he could use Twitter to wage feuds, be provocative and opinionated, and promote himself—things he had already spent most of his career doing in many more than 140 characters.
And for a Brit trying to make a name for himself in the States as an interviewer, Twitter proved a perfect tool for Morgan to showcase his personality to viewers who knew him primarily from AGT and The Celebrity Apprentice. “You can’t hide your personality or your character,” Morgan says of Twitter. “And I think my Twitter feed gives you a pretty good insight into what I’m like.”
Morgan has amassed more than 1 million followers in his nine months on Twitter, and he’s using that to build his personal brand and drive buzz—and arguably ratings—to his CNN and NBC shows.
He promoted his live interview with Charlie Sheen during the height of the Two and a Half Men debacle with a single tweet sent out five minutes before air. The interview averaged 1.3 million total viewers and 561,000 in the news target adults 25-54 demo. At the time, the Sheen interview gave PMT its best ratings in the target demo to date. For the month of February, PMT averaged 812,000 total viewers, 237,000 in 25-54.
“That was really the wake-up call for me to say, ‘This is serious, this can be a phenomenal ratings tool,’” Morgan says. It’s a tactic he repeated last week after Christine O’Donnell walked off his set.
Morgan has even made a practice of booking guests via Twitter, including Jessica Alba, Alec Baldwin and Mike Tyson, leveraging the benefit of doing the booking process in front of thousands of followers, which makes it difficult for stars to back out.
Clearly, Morgan has become one of the converted. “It’s endlessly obsessive, addictive, hilarious, and it has cured the No. 1 problem I had in my life: What to do when you’re trapped on a plane or in a boring car journey or a traffic jam and you’ve got nothing else to do,” he says of his feed, which often touches on personal passions like cricket and the underachieving English soccer team Arsenal. “Now I never have to worry. There are a million people I can talk to.”
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