Jimmy Fallon is basically the king of the internet, and maybe even the world. Since taking over The Tonight Show from Jay Leno in February this year he continues to go from strength to strength. In his first week as host, Fallon gathered more than 10.4 million total viewers — the biggest overall audience for the program since Johnny Carson hosted in 1992. Although it is important to note Fallon’s success and following started long before then. From Saturday Night Live, a bunch of movie and TV appearances, to a five year stint hosting Late Night, Jimmy Fallon hasn’t built his hilarious empire overnight. Still, it has been in recent years that Jimmy has risen to global fame and now has centre stage on a show (and more importantly content) that not only gets people wetting their pants with laughter but creates conversation, starts trends and engages audiences around the world.
Whilst the list of what brands and agencies can learn from Fallon is long and continually evolving, here are a few consistencies we’ve seen from Fallon over the years that are worth taking note of:
1. Be personable
“On ‘Late Night,’ it’s like we’re all in on the joke. That’s what I wanted it to be. I’m not doing something sneaky. Inside jokes, I don’t like those. We can all ride together, and everyone’s on the same thing going, ‘Aha, I know where you’re going here.’” – Jimmy Fallon
Jimmy comes across like he is just like one of “us”. He likes what we like, he laughs at what we laugh at, and he makes you feel like he’s an old friend. This works with guests and audiences alike. You get the feeling guests want to appear on his show rather than the standard scripted interviews they partake in. Jimmy has a genuine nature, you see him get excited to meet his idols, rather than just another interview he has to do.
When we see our favourite celebrities laughing and playing with others, it makes them seem more relatable. And if that’s anything to go by then Jimmy is extremely relatable, as most of his guests spend more time laughing than speaking. He also involves his audience in a way that makes them feel like they are in on the joke.
2. Embrace social channels
Jimmy Fallon has seen such viral success on the internet because he shares a love for the stuff the internet shares. And who doesn’t love the internet?! With over 13million followers on his own Twitter account and already over 1.3million on his Tonight Show account, Jimmy has the scale to widely share content and drive social conversation. He built up those followings by being active in the social space. He relies on Twitter to source content for his show, with his custom hastags often trending as audiences send in their own hilarious anecdotes.
He also knows that the internet is the place where a large portion of his audience engage with his content, not TV. The Tonight Show ‘s social channels feature content tailor-made for an audience who doesn’t watch late night network television, but who will laugh at a clip on YouTube or re-blog a goofy caption GIF on Tumblr.
All you have to do is go to YouTube and search Jimmy Fallon to see that his clips bring in views at the tens of millions.
3. Create moments
“I didn’t act like I was there. I just got into the story.” – Jimmy Fallon
So back to those tens of millions of views that Jimmy’s YouTube clips can bring in. Each night on The Late Show, Fallon creates moments or events that are unique, stupidly funny and at times completely ridiculous. From skits to songs, on his own or with celebrity guests, the show is made up of individual pieces of content that all have the ability to become the latest moment or event that goes viral online.
From the History of Rap, to his recreations of top songs with his house band The Roots, the list of moments that Fallon creates are endless. These original, viral gems create the proverbial water cooler conversation on the internet week after week.
4. Don’t take yourself too seriously, have fun with it
“’Have fun’ is my message. Be silly. You’re allowed to be silly. There’s nothing wrong with it.” – Jimmy Fallon
People appreciate brands that don’t put themselves on a pedestal. A large part of Jimmy’s charm is that he is a bit of a goof.
He involves his audiences in games on stage, he comes up with ridiculous challenges to take on A-list celebrities (What’s in my Box?, Lip Sync competitions, Beer Pong… the list goes on) and he really does seem to have the best time doing it. Whether he is the butt of the joke or laughing along with a guest or audience member, Fallon doesn’t take himself too seriously.
5. Be relevant
“Thank you… Apple, for adding a camera to the iPod Nano. Now it’s just like the iPhone except it can’t make calls. So basically, it’s just like the iPhone.” – Jimmy Fallon
Let’s get one thing clear, Fallon is knocking on 40’s door. He’s not a Gen Y, a millennial or any other term you might use for the “young” people of today. Despite his age Fallon connects with a broad audience, including that hard to capture 18-35 audience, through a set of shared values that he has incorporated into The Tonight Show. He is acutely in-tune with what is “going on”, from pop culture, web memes, and the Buzzfeed-y ’90s nostalgia that resonates with anyone who likes a LOL. Further from the social success we mentioned earlier, Jimmy reaches his audience with content that is funny, interesting, weird, authentic, and shareable to a generation of people that not only appreciate that kind of content but will amplify it through conversation and sharing.
Know your audience and know what they want to see.