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U.S. president Barack Obama has appeared on comedian Jimmy Fallon's late night talk show, crooning his proposal not to charge interest on student loans. (YouTube.com)
U.S. president Barack Obama has appeared on comedian Jimmy Fallon's late night talk show, crooning his proposal not to charge interest on student loans. (YouTube.com)

Commentary

Companies have lots to learn from late-night TV hosts Add to ...

The battle of the Jimmys for late-night supremacy is spilling over to the world of social media from its traditional home on broadcast television.

From the recent tight-pant battle to celebrities reading mean tweets, the two Jimmys of late-night TV – Fallon and Kimmel – are dominating social media. Their clever online antics are allowing them to increase their television audiences and to own the discussion around trending events and topics that reach far beyond their nightly TV audiences.

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Both comedians had already made names for themselves, but the way they established continued success on multiple platforms is simple: they’re responsive, they’re consistent, and they’re fun.

Here are three ways brands can learn from these funny men:

Respond and react

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, brands that want to see success on social media must respond and engage with their audiences. It sounds simple, but it’s where many brands miss the mark. Fallon’s friendly wager with the Montreal Canadiens is the perfect example of how one interaction can own the conversation around a timely event.

Of course, not all brands have one of the world’s most storied sports franchises actively vying to engage with them, but there remains much to be learned from Fallon’s interaction with the hockey club. It’s these daily interactions that ultimately create and maintain brand association and affinity between you and your followers.

Fallon recognizes this as well. Although the bigger interactions get the most buzz, he also employs the respond-and-react tactic on a small scale. From answering questions about who his favourite country artist is to discussing his working relationship with The Roots, Fallon responds to his fans and in turn gets a reaction.

Consistency is key

Fun and relevant content is what audiences have come to expect from both Fallon and Kimmel. This is true for their TV shows and their social media channels. With all the clutter and noise online, people only follow and pay attention to what provides them with some sort of value – in this case comedic relief.

For other brands, they might not be looking for a good laugh, but what is important is to be consistent. When someone signs up to follow one of your channels, they need to know what value they can expect. Not everyone can find success with celebrities singing a hashtag song, but finding consistency in your communications and brand tone is key.

Commit to the content

What audiences love about Kimmel and Fallon’s content is how authentically fun it is. The logistics and legalities of internal processes tend to hold many brands back from completely embracing opportunities in an entertaining way – and consumers see right through that. If it’s not authentic, it won’t go very far.

Kimmel’s pedestrian questions have become a core component of his online content and its success lies in the fact that he doesn’t tiptoe around topics. He pushes boundaries, and commits to doing so. The Jimmys don’t hold back, and neither should brands. It takes guts to go all out on a content piece that pulls at emotion – be it humour, heartache or happiness – but it pays off when done correctly.

Kimmel and Fallon make it look easy, and that’s exactly the point. They stick to the core themes of successful social media strategy and don’t complicate it. By consistently sharing relevant, engaging and fresh content, audiences have come to not only trust these television personalities, but eagerly anticipate their content.

In social, it’s a huge win when your brand creates a following that reacts to your posts and looks forward to what’s coming next.

Mia Pearson is the co-founder of North Strategic. She has more than two decades of experience in creating and growing communications agencies, and her experience spans many sectors, including financial, technology, consumer and lifestyle.

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