How social media helped this FOX News show grow in just 1 year

By Natan Edelsburg Comment

Social media continues to dominate and change the way cable news is produced. Fox News has been a part of this innovation through their partnership with Twitter, debate coverage and through programs like America Live with Megyn Kely. Today, the network is celebrating the one year anniversary of their show The Five (on at 5 ET), which has grown tremendously with the help of the social web. We spoke with Porter Berry, Senior Producer of Fox News Channel’s The Five about the milestone.

The show’s short history is very interesting. The format of the opinion program is “five rotating low-profile co-hosts,” which Fox News President Roger Ailes came up with after Glenn Beck went off the air. The different hosts that rotate are a diverse group that include former White House press secretary Dana Perino, Eric Bolling, Greg Gutfeld, Andrea Tantaros, Kimberly Guilfoyle and Juan Williams.

The show’s doing very well on linear, more proof that social can help traditional. Last Monday, the show was the highest rated cable news show among ages 25-54, bringing in 515,000 viewers, according to Nielsen. Even more interesting, The Five has grown over Glenn Beck’s ratings by 15% in total viewership as well (according to Nielsen). Here are more details on how social (including fun Twitter wars between the hosts) has helped grow this show to success in just a year.

Lost Remote: How is social media uniquely used for The Five?

Porter Berry: In May, we launched the Facebook page for “The Five” so roughly two months ago and already we have nearly, 45K fans that have “liked” our page. Given that, we’re really excited about the possibilities and opportunities in the social media world and how it can help grow the relationship between the co-hosts and our fans. The key to our show’s success are the great personalities of the co-hosts: Bob Beckel, Dana Perino, Eric Bolling, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Andrea Tantaros, Greg Gutfeld and Juan Williams. It’s a great mix of talent and we want our audience to get to know them personally- and social media is the perfect place to build that relationship. When we launched our Facebook page we decided to really go for it and roll out the page for an entire week. The first week, we had fans/viewers send in questions and each day after the show, one of the co-hosts answered FIVE questions. Some of them were funny, some offbeat, but all of them gave people a chance to know a little more about the co-hosts.

Another way we use social media is to engage our viewers – whether it be through supplemental videos, viewer comments or posing questions on Facebook. For instance: In a recent Fourth of July special, we proposed the idea of doing a dunk tank and asked our fans who they wanted to get thrown in the dunk tank. Bob was the clear winner. This gave our viewers an opportunity to chime in and later we posted a clip of Bob getting thrown in a dunk tank. Our fans loved it. We received over thousands of “likes” for our Fourth of July special.

LR: How did social media help grow the show?

Berry: Our show is in the early stages of building our social media audience so it’s hard to correlate our presence online to show growth, but we think it’s an important place to be moving forward. We have three objectives: 1) As I mentioned earlier, to give our audience opportunities to interact with the hosts personally. 2) To share great moments from the show for people who may have missed it on TV and 3) To put clips out there for people who may not have had a chance to see the show yet.

“The Five” is a fun, free-wheeling hour that has a natural appeal to a younger audience- and places like Facebook and Twitter are ideal to get the word out and hopefully have them check out the show. Also, Twitter is a great avenue for instant audience feedback – and our co-hosts are regularly checking their Twitter feeds (even during commercial breaks) – to see how people are responding or adding to the conversation.

LR: The show is particularly popular among young audiences, how do you produce TV with younger audiences in mind?

Berry : First, we have some of the hottest bumper music in cable television which makes the show fun and exciting. Hits range from Katy Perry to Rascal Flatts to Rolling Stone to Dave Matthews. Plus, “The Five” is a great place to come for smart political analysis from some incredibly accomplished hosts… but we don’t just do news and politics. We also talk about celebrities, cultural and moral questions- bullying for example, and lots of other topics. Bottom line: If there’s something fun, interesting and entertaining going on out there, chances are we’re going to be talking about it. Younger viewers are clearly in tune with what’s happening in the worlds of celebrity and pop culture and what you’ll hear from our hosts is probably a different take than what they’re reading in celebrity magazines. Here’s a great example: There was talk a couple months ago that Kim Kardashian might run for mayor of a town in California so Bob Beckel, who has run a presidential campaign, gave her some good natured political advice. His motto: Kim Kardashian for Mayor: Because Brains are Overrated.

LR: How is social used on air? Do you work with any partners (social tv startups, agencies?)

Berry: We’re sort of a start-up ourselves since we’ve just been on the air a year. Our co-hosts are regularly engaging the audience on their personal Twitter and Facebook pages- asking questions, looking for reaction to stories we’re covering, etc. We haven’t hooked up with any partners. We’re building our franchise up from the ground up, one viewer at a time, and we’re doing it ourselves at this point.”

LR: What are plans for the future?

Berry: Who knows! Social media and technology are moving so fast that it’s impossible to predict how we’ll grow. Generally speaking, whatever improves the experience for our audience – is something we’ll be looking to do