Jimmy, a creative genious
As a content marketer using video in your mix, you know all too well how much work goes into filling up an editorial calendar month after month.

You have to plan out great videos concepts, appeal to different audience personas, stay on top of trends, and round up guest contributors – not to mention actually writing and shooting all of your content once it’s scheduled.

It’s a lotta work, and when you think about it, it’s actually not too different from the job of a TV producer.

So why not emulate the folks making trending videos all the time? Take the always charming and funny Jimmy Fallon, for example. Running the Tonight Show is basically like being a curator of fun, and there’s a lot to be learned from this sketch comedy pro.

With segments like ‘Flip cup with Annett Benning’ and ‘Real people, fake arms’, the king of late night has found a clever way to extend his showtime on YouTube and win fans over with awesome, shareable content.

Here are five things you can do to give your video strategy the same edge.

1. Make Signature Sketches

With his SNL past, Jimmy Fallon is no stranger to sketch comedy, and the format transfers over to his latest gig really well.

While the guests on his show change night to night, Jimmy’s segment formats are repeatable content blocks. Fans of Fallon can always look forward to Jimmy’s Thank You Notes, “Ew!” (in which he plays a tween girl), games with guests, and Classroom Instruments, just to name a few. These segments have millions of views on YouTube and every so often, a new one is introduced.

Just take a look at the newest, Lip Flip with Tina Fey.

Content Lesson

Marketers can employ this same segmenting tactic when planning out new videos by making up a few themed video concepts that are recognizable and repeatable. If your concept stays constant, like Lip Flip or Thank You Notes, you only need to swap out the people who are featured each week, or what they talk about. This type of signature sketch is memorable, doesn’t have to correlate directly with your products or services (AKA great content marketing!), and it builds audience expectation from week-to-week as subscribers await your latest sketch of your CEO reading funny letters.

2. Connect with your nostalgic audience

Jimmy’s producers are masters of creating content to suit their audience, and the millenials they’re reaching on YouTube are suckers for all things that bring them back to their 90s childhood.

With this in mind, when Jimmy was leaving Late Night for his new show, he rounded up the guys from Full House to do a reunion sketch.

What you can learn

When brainstorming ideas for top-of-funnel video content, think about your buyer personas and what they grew up with. What’s going to tug at their heart strings? Whether it’s a funny ABBA music video parody or a remake of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, a blast from the past is a great way to get your target market’s attention with something they miss.

3. Make Your Guests Look Good

As a late night host, Jimmy chats with different celebrities every night and you’ll notice that while he’s awesome at impressions and physical comedy, he always lets his guest be the star.

Often challenging his guests to games, it’s a great way to showcase their talents and give them an incentive for coming on the show (i.e. “your fans love when you’re goofy, so you should do the Tonight Show”).

Here’s one of my favourite sketches where Jimmy lip syncs with Joseph Gordon Levitt (who steals the show with Superbass):

The lesson here?

When you invite someone to film an interview-style video for your company, consider how they want to be perceived and help them out. If you know your COO isn’t the most talkative lady in the world, for example, you can still feature her in videos if you team her up with someone who is talkative and film them making a pizza together or performing an activity where the focus doesn’t have to be on one person. You can use the situation to bring out the best in your camera shy COO and she’ll likely be more comfy answering questions when doing something instead of being put on the spot in a talking-head style interview.

See a real life example of this method in action on Ann Handley’s blog where she covers a clever campaign by Cisco and Tim Washer. Tim was able to bring humor to B2B in a classic interview sketch really effectively while making his guest look great. It’s something your brand can do too!

4. Keep it fresh

With repeatable segments, you run the risk of becoming predictable, but that’s not the case with Jimmy. The writers keep a pulse on what’s popular and have made a ton of digital shorts to spoof pop culture when it’s timely and relevant.

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 8.44.21 PMAs Breaking Bad was coming to a close, Fallon and his team released ‘Joking Bad‘ and at the height of Downton Abbey fame, ‘Downton Sixbey’ (a play on their location at Studio 6B).

The content lesson here

In the same way you can newsjack stories as they become popular for your blog, you can create video parodies of popular shows to appeal to your audience and stand out as a memorable brand. You’ll want to watch out for copyright (you’ll need to use different titles from the real deal), and make sure you’re on target when it comes to your humor. Nothing ruins a spoof quicker than a sweaty joke you didn’t get quite right, so brush up on your context and comedic timing.

5. Get social

Not only does Jimmy and his team do a great job using YouTube to give fans a chance to engage with the show, but they’re also Twitter pros. In the Hashtag segment, Jimmy relays his favourite tweets from fans after sharing a hashtag theme before the show. A terrific way to recognize individual fans for being funny too, a lot of the hashtags have trended globally on Twitter.

Check out the hashtag segment on #ithoughtiwascool:

Marketing lesson

Make integrated campaigns by experimenting with hashtags your brand fans can engage with. You can ask your audience questions and create videos summing up your favourite tweets in the same way Jimmy does. Here’s a helpful flowchart from Twitter to help you choose a hashtag that works for your brand’s marketing campaigns.

Overall, a charismatic TV host like Jimmy Fallon can teach you a lot about being a better content marketer when it comes to video. Let us know what lessons you’ll be incorporating into your upcoming content with a comment below!

Jennifer Pepper