Best Use Of Social Media: The Tonight Show

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon engages with our viewers and fans all day, every day. The show airs for an hour every weeknight, but our social accounts are active around-the-clock, providing exclusive video, unique peeks behind the scenes, and bonus materials that act as an extension of the show itself. This year we focused on three areas to further set the show apart from its peers: 

  • Real-Time Fan Engagement

  • Treating YouTube as a Social Platform

  • Allowing Fans to Shape the Show


Real-Time Activations

Since Jimmy took over the Tonight Show, the @FallonTonight social team has been livetweeting every episode, releasing custom content real-time, uploading clips from the show as the air, and leading conversation with fans and celebrities. This year we’ve continued to bring our social audience even closer to the show by having some of our most socially-savy guests takeover our Snapchat and Instagram accounts. Guests like Hugh Jackman, Jessica Alba, Gabrielle Union, Joseph-Gordon Levitt,  and Meghan Trainor have participated, giving fans backstage access and showing what its like to be on the show in real time. James Marsden even used his Instagram takeover at our show to tease the surprise launch his own Instagram account that would happen on-air with Jimmy later that night.  


This year, with the rise of Meerkat, Periscope and Facebook Live, we have also evolved our strategy to include regular mobile live-streaming. Both Jimmy and the show were early adopters and have quickly become leaders on each of these platforms. Through these platforms, we have been able to provide fans with exclusive looks at closed-door rehearsals and cool new ways to interact with Jimmy and our guests.

Take Seth Rogen, for example. When Seth stopped by the show, we played a fan-driven game of “Would You Rather” in his dressing room using questions submitted during our live-stream.  Jimmy has also opened up his office on multiple occasions for live Q&As! Whether it’s an office, dressing room or studio, the Tonight Show regularly finds new ways to engage thousands of viewers in real-time with the use of mobile live-streaming. 

Monologue rehearsal with Jimmy Fallon

Posted by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Thursday, December 10, 2015

YouTube as a Social Platform

We also pride ourselves in recognizing YouTube as a social network, not just a distribution platform. This year we’ve worked to continue to set the bar in engaging directly with both creators and fans in the YouTube community. On our channel we actively engage with fans in the comments, create custom video end cards with Jimmy, and uses fan response to help drive the production of additional web exclusive backstage content, like the "Backstage Acoustic" music series or our interactive series like “Unqualified Advice.”

We also strive to fold the YouTube community into the broadcast show itself.  YouTube stars including Miranda Sings and Grace Helbig have appeared as guests on the show. We’ve also been able to showcase games from the platform on the show, such as The Whisper Challenge, while shouting out the YouTubers we’ve seen playing it. And for two years in a row we’ve attended VidCon, giving us a chance to engage directly with creators and fans offline as well.


One of the coolest things to happen on the show this year actually started on YouTube, the #AndrewShadowJimmy campaign. A teen named Andrew Kochamba, produced a great YouTube video asking to shadow Jimmy as part of his senior year “Shadow” day. Jimmy saw the video, loved it, and decided to make the campaign a reality. We put our own video of calling on YouTube, then flew him to NYC to shadow Jimmy for the day. Because of his video, Andrew got come to the show, interview Jimmy live on Meerkat and even joined that night’s guests on the couch at the end of the show.  


Allowing Fans to Shape the Show

Social engagement isn’t relegated to just the web space for us. Many of our show segments involve fan-submitted web content on a weekly basis. Through our social channels and app, fans are able to contribute content that makes it to air. For instance, in our weekly Tonight Show Hashtags segment, we release a call to action (both online and via on-air graphics) that invites fans to share stories related to a given topic, and every Thursday night Jimmy reads his favorites on-air. The hashtags regularly trend worldwide for hours, and the segment is a staple for The Tonight Show.

This year we’ve gone even further with new segments driven by user-submitted content. These have included the “Vine Raps Challenge", the “Screengrabs” segment, which brings “Headlines” into the digital age, and our recurring “Kid Theater” segment, which has had major celebrities including Channing Tatum, Tom Hanks and Michael Keaton act out short scripts submitted by children.