Jimmy Fallon’s #LateNightHashtags as Product Development

Constance Adams    June 16, 2014


Organization Name: NBC – The Tonight Show

Industry: Television Network/Television Show

Name of contact if available: Stephen Burke – NBC CEO

Description of How Social Media is used for Business Performance

The current evolution of late night television has become a competition to win over a younger web savvy audience. The much sought after demographic is being vied by for networks phasing out older hosts with younger “on the pulse” talent. Although Jimmy Kimmel’s hilarious and viral segment, “Celebrities Read Mean Tweets,” has a consistent draw of late night viewers, Jimmy Fallon’s presence on social media, and the way he integrates social media content on his show, has fast tracked the SNL alum to the top of the late night time slot.


The inheritance of Jay Leno’s reign of the Tonight Show was a struggle. The intended successor, Conan O’Brien, headed the nighttime slot. The transition was met with decreased ratings. Perhaps O’Brien’s sense of humour wasn’t what America expected. After a juggling various options, controversy hit the NBC stage. The tension and rivalry eventually met a boiling point. O’Brien was booted and Leno regained his title as late night king.


Rumours began to swirl that Leno was set to retire from the show…yet again. NBC proactively addressed the rumours and announced that Jimmy Fallon would take over the coveted Tonight Show. Jimmy discusses his rise to fame on SNL and new gig with Screen Slam:

Following the Conan O’Brien debacle, it seemed like Fallon was setup to fail. Much like O’Brien, his comedy was directed to a younger audience. They both came from SNL backgrounds and shared a quirky and endearing awkwardness. Was another dud eminent? On February 17, 2014 Fallon’s first Tonight Show aired and history was made…not repeated. With a spectacular guest line up and introductory credits directed by Spike Lee ratings increased significantly and continue to grow.

Jimmy quote

Fallon was able to make a lasting connection with his audience. How? He has been active on Twitter since 2008. He carries the same comedic voice onto the web and engages his audience outside of a pre-determined time slot. In order to appeal to an audience you have to understand them. What they think is funny. Things they enjoy…things they don’t. He never underestimates the powering of listening and applying what he heard to the show. His connection to social media actually became a huge part of his show and presence.

Every Wednesday night, Jimmy goes through a handful of responses to a hashtag theme he posted. People respond with comical anecdotes in 140 characters or less. Forget product development. Fallon has created a social media culture. He uses social platforms for full segments of his show. His viewers become active participants. They are essentially writers and contributors. Late Night Hashtags is always trending on Twitter and now with the Tonight Show APP for smart phones, connecting is at your fingertips. As Fallon explains before each hashtag segment, “We got thousands of Tweets and within a half hour it was a world-wide trending topic.”

ask jimmy

Besides Jimmy’s unique and entertaining interaction with celebrity guests, including Egg Russian Roulette with David Beckham, Lip Sync Challenge with Emma Stone, Water War with Ryan Reynolds, or Battle Shots with Johnny Knoxville, he prides himself on untraditional interaction with fans. Fallon also posts web-exclusive material generated by fan questions. Jimmy’s Tumblr account has a section where you can submit your questions. On a regular basis, he sifts through the questions and uploads “Ask Jimmy” videos to his YouTube channel. Jimmy’s candor and appreciation for his fan-base make him an extremely accessible public figure. If you don’t bump into him on the streets of New York, there is a high chance one of your Tweets will be read on air or he will leave you a random voicemail when you send him your phone number on Tumblr.

Lessons for Others

  • Be accessible: Make sure your audience can contact you via social media streams. Rather than submitting information forms with comments, having an active Twitter account that incorporates viewer comments shows the target demographic that their voice is literally being heard.
  • Overtly Acknowledge Consumer Impact: It is easy for a product or service provider to state that they look at consumer comments received through various forms of online feedback. What happens with that information however, is usually a mystery. Publicizing the ways consumer contributions are being used is a key component in letting each consumer know their voice is relevant and important to the development of the brand.
  • Never Underestimate the Power of Listening: Want to know what consumers want? Ask. Target demographics can provide the most insightful perspectives of growth and development.

Submitted By: Constance Adams, University of Waterloo

To contact the author of this entry please email at: constanceadams@hotmail.com

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.

Web References

NBC and Associated Pages

Twitter and Associated Pages

Tumblr and Associated Pages

Wikipedia and Associated Pages

YouTube and Associated Pages

Google Images and Associated Pictures