Glenn Beck's 'The Blaze' set to ride social wave

By Cory Bergman 

Regardless of what you believe about Glenn Beck’s politics, you have to admit he’s a multimedia powerhouse, from TV to books, radio to events. And you may be surprised about his social media following: he has more Facebook fans (1,597,000) than Fox News itself (1,580,000).

That’s one reason why former Huffington Post CEO Betsy Morgan took the job as president of The Blaze, Beck’s conservative news site that launched four months ago. “There’s great leverage there,” she said in an interview with Lost Remote. “Just as Glenn has seen multimedia opportunities for his own personal brand, we see multimedia opportunities for The Blaze.”

Morgan’s new job is certainly a huge polar shift in ideology. “I am a very apolitical person,” she told the NY Times. “I’m a business person, who is absolutely fascinated by brands.” And when you think about the business, The Blaze has many parallels with her earlier work at the Huffington Post. Both sites (which have similar designs) have strong, well-known personalities at the helm, perfect for building an online community, both on and off the site.

“When I think about joining the Huffington Post in 2007,” Morgan says, “we very imaginative in how we said it wasn’t about front door traffic, it was about side door traffic. It was about getting people in through all doors to a destination site, but I think a tremendous amount that has changed in the last three years. The idea that there’s community, conversation and debate away from destination websites is enormously important to be aware of, and I think a big opportunity for The Blaze.”

Without much promotion, The Blaze has built 21,000 Facebook fans and 13,000 Twitter followers. Beck’s social media accounts are just beginning to cross-promote The Blaze, a technique Morgan hints is only just beginning. “He has an enormous community,” she says. “What we hope to do on The Blaze is to build on his loyal, core audience.”

Besides politics, one thing is different from Huffington Post — the brand name. “It is absolutely by intent his name is not on the front door, and it’s called The Blaze,” she says. “It’s not Glenn Beck’s Post, and that is very much by design, and I think that gives us endless possibilities.”

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