Tell us a little about yourself. What makes @itvpeston worth following?
ITV’s “Peston” is, I think, one of the few political program handles that has taken Twitter on in a meaningful way and regularly encourages engagement, and uses that engagement in an influential way. So not only were we the very first program to stream an entire program, two hours before it goes on TV — without ads on Twitter — but we regularly allow our Twitter followers to ask questions to our guests. Everyone from the prime minister to Jeremy Corbyn has been asked a question via Twitter.
Any particularly viral moments we might remember your work from?
Yeah, we had a good one which was this Nigel Farage poll. During the live stream of the show, where there would typically be ad breaks, we have special content that only people on Twitter can watch. In this case, it was Nigel Farage being filmed by “Peston” co-presenter Anushka Asthana doing a video poll. Unsurprisingly, he chose the subject of Brexit, which absolutely everyone jumped on, including James Corden and Jo Brand, and we had tens of thousands of votes and hundreds and hundreds of Retweets.
How has social media changed since you started out in the industry?
I started out in pure journalism, and was a runner on “The Andrew Marr Show” back in the early days, and was the first person to set up the show on Twitter. That was when I started getting interested in the politics side of things, and how you could engage people via social media in politics. I launched my agency, the Clerkenwell Brothers, two years ago, which is when I started to focus on social media as a key part of my role, so I guess that’s when I became a pure social media person.
I think brands now have to be much smarter on social media in terms of using it in a more authentic way. Be fast, be first, be funny — these are the key things to start with. The best brands really have to invest in smart people who can do that, react to stuff, so that either you’re the first person doing something or the fastest, or the funniest. For us on “Peston,” we like to be the ones breaking new ground, because it’s really busy in the space of brands just Tweeting about their product every day, so you’ve got to be faster and quicker than ever before.
Describe your relationship with Twitter.
My first really real experience with Twitter was that I used to run a blog where I wrote film reviews. I watched a film that I absolutely loved called “The Imposter,” which was a documentary about a guy who pretends to be someone he’s not. I found him on Twitter and managed to organize an interview for my blog, and, at the time, that blew my mind that I could now connect with people. Before Twitter there would have been no chance, no way, really, for me to make those connections or have that opportunity. So I’ve always liked Twitter for the access that it gives me to interesting people, as well as the content. I really do use it, not just as a sort of social channel, but as a network.