The Tonight Show on NBC is one of the longest running programs in history. It has been a part of American television for over 50 years. Jay Leno was the successful host for many years, yet ratings began to decline beyond the comfort level of executives. He attempted his first exit when Conan O’Brien took over, but that proved to be a disaster. He exited for good when Jimmy Fallon, then host of The Late Show, was appointed to be his successor.


Since taking over, Fallon has enjoyed immense success both on late night television and in online views. Many of the clips on his YouTube page have more than 10 million views. Rarely does a day goes by without someone sharing a clip from The Tonight Show on my Facebook News Feed. His popularity has several lessons that can easily translate to your social media strategy.

He knows his audience 

The 18-49 year old age bracket is one that is highly sought after by advertisers, and it is the target audience of The Tonight Show. Fallon has clips (such as the Saved by the Bell reunion) that remind his audience of their childhood and teenage years. You don’t necessarily need to do 90s skits, but you do need to know your audience. You need to know who they are, what they have likely experienced, and what will be a connecting point. This requires a focus on asking good questions.

He shows celebrities being normal people 

The games, the lip sync battles, and the hilarious conversations show us that celebrities are real-and sometimes-normal people. Some of the greatest clips on Fallon’s YouTube page are the ones of celebrities actually having fun and doing something entertaining. Does your company or your leadership show their humanity? Do they show that they actually have a life? Or are they not allowed to have fun in order to protect “the brand?”

He seems genuinely interested 

He doesn’t seem to be disconnected from the celebrity guests, and it makes a difference. People watching can tell when someone is being genuine, and Fallon’s ability to connect with guests is great. Too often companies and social media managers come across as one-sided in their social strategy, and it shows people that they do not matter. Remember: social is the first word in social media, so be social.

What else can we learn from The Tonight Show? Connect with me on Twitter to continue the conversation!

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