Why Jimmy Fallon Made Me Not Quit Twitter – at Least Not Yet

Posted on September 13th, 2010


For a while now, I’ve wanted to quit Twitter. Reluctant from the very beginning, I only became a joiner so that I could keep up on what my professional colleagues were talking about.

But even with that, I quickly became overwhelmed with the amount of content published that didn’t support my original “educational” goals. It became hard to say it was worth weeding through the clutter of daily reportings and thoughts on the world for the nuggets of news flashes and thoughts on interactive design or content strategy.

Enter Jimmy Fallon. Before corporate brands, celebrities were the first brands to use Twitter to increase their loyalty and increase presence across channels. Why Jimmy Fallon is important is not simply his activity on @jimmyfallon. It’s the interaction between broadcast and digital that just makes sense. This isn’t the first time broadcast has tried this cross-promotion. Shows constantly push Twitter streams at end of shows or between segments. See @cbsnews, @theofficenbc, @lost. But in most cases, these are just streams of updates or news.

Here’s the thing about Jimmy Fallon and the whole social media thing: it’s not that Fallon’s old-fogey late night competition doesn’t “get” Twitter – that is irrelevant. What is so amazing to me is the result in which his Twitter outreach has enabled for free content for his segments and has successfully created user-generated content for TV.

One segment of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Fallon uses his Twitter account to ask users/fans to answer a thematic hashtag. For example, his team will create hashtags such as #myparentsareweird or #thereshouldbealaw.

It’s so simple, but it works. By creating a dialogue that extends between broadcast and Twitter, Fallon moves back and forth between being Jimmy Fallon the late night star (with the status of late night greats) and Jimmy Fallon your college bud (on Twitter). Whether or not he reads the responses before he says them on air isn’t important – because it feels like he is hanging out with you reading them off a shared computer screen cracking up with you and your friends.

Thinking more on the broadcast/digital connection, the fact that Fallon stated on this episode of  The View that he doesn’t care about his super late timeslot because his generation watches him on DVR and other channels like Hulu anyway. Jimmy, you are right – and the next time I have a conversation about cross-channel promotion and strategy with my clients I will push for redefinition of key success metrics that figure in and reward this cross-channel activity.

Sure these all are baby steps, but for now I’m going to to stick around to see where this goes. Thanks Jimmy.