On Saturday, January 5th 2013,Fox News Channel's "Special Report With Bret Baier," celebrated their 4th anniversary with Bret Baier as the host of the popular news program. Baier took over the position as the host in 2009 from Brit Hume, and has continued the shows strong journalistic credibility and made the show even more popular than before by using social media and digital tools including Twitter, Facebook, and a blog, "The Daily Bret," that he updates frequently. We spoke to Bret Baier about how he plans on continuing to use social media to attract a new audience, expand the show's reach using digital tools, and plans for 2013.
Baier has a five point plan on using social media and digital tools to connect with his audience. First and foremost, Twitter has been, and will continue to be, one of the most important tools Baier uses. "We increasingly use Twitter to interact with viewers to let them know what stories are coming up, to get their feedback on stories and panel discussions, and to get story ideas to pursue going forward. I think I started with 10 thousand followers.. and now I am at more than 320 thousand - so the reach is expanding... and we see the platform as a real benefit to interact," Baier said.
During the 2012 Presidential Election, Fox News partnered up with Twitter to get instant feedback after major campaign events, including the presidential debates between Mitt Romney and President Obama, convention speeches at the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, and primary and caucus nights. Baier plans to continue this relationship in 2013, even though there isn't an election on the horizon. "[Twitter] provided us our own "Instant Town hall" with millions of responses instantaneously," he explained. The instantaneous reaction provided by Twitter is becoming increasingly important, both for politicians and news outlets, and "Special Report" hopes to continue to cultivate that in the coming year.
Baier's Blog-The Daily Bret
As previously mentioned, Baier also has his own blog, "The Daily Bret." Baier updates the blog every day, and uses it to respond to any questions viewers have directly. In addition, "The Daily Bret" has a number of other features as well. "We post reporters finished pieces on the homepage- but also include additional content for people who want more info. There are also links to other related stories and topics on our homepage as well as new polls every day-- asking viewers to vote on some aspect of a topic of the day."
Special Report Online
Also in 2013, Baier plans on continuing "Special Report Online." Every Wednesday at 7PM (after the show finishes up), Baier hosts a live panel discussion where they discusses questions posted by viewers in real-time, and comments from people who log on to the page (seen here). According to Baier, the number of users involved in "Special Report Online" has increased every month, since it started three years ago, and there are plans to add another day during the week. "We've found that people really appreciate that level of viewer interaction - and while it takes a little more time at the office for us.. we think it pays off in the long run with the audience."
Facebook, Youtube, Google +, And More
Lastly, Baier utilizes a number of other social media tools, including Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, and Youtube. "I still actively post on Facebook.. on a personal page and a Special Report show page; we have a YouTube page for Special Report, an Instagram account, and a Flickr site. We have used Google Plus numerous times as well." He's hosted a number of Google + hangouts, where he interacts directly with viewers.
2012 was a big year for Fox News Channel and Baier as well. FNC was the most watched news channel for the 11th consecutive year, and "Special Report With Bret Baier" was #2 in all of basic cable in the 6pm time slot, only behind Nickelodeon. Considering that "Special Report" is a straight news show, the show's ratings are even more staggering. They also used social media to bring a unique and original aspect to major news events. For example, the days leading up to election night, Fox News Channel contributors Karl Rove and Joe Trippi had a weekly segment on "Special Report" where they talked about various scenarios regarding the electoral vote, and how each candidate could secure enough votes to win the White House. Afterwards, they would talk to viewers on Twitter about maps they created with Fox News apps. Also, "Special Report" featured a five day, five part series on different aspects of the fiscal cliff, and how our country's financial crisis could be solved. "Special Report With Bret Baier" clearly creates to a unique viewing experience, which has helped catapult the show to become one of the most popular news programs on cable news.
Baier and "Special Report" have big plans in his fifth year on air. As many news outlets are slowly learning, a strong social media presence is a key to attracting new viewers, and keeping current viewers engaged. Bret Baier figured this out earlier than most and plans on cultivating the relationship he has with his viewers in his 5th year as the host of "Special Report."