Strategy: What Late Night TV Hosts Can Teach You About Your Video Strategy

The Leno and Letterman era is over and with it ends the late night television wars. Or so say self-proclaimed nice guys named Jimmy and James who now benevolently rule the late night kingdom from 11:30pm to 1:30am, five days a week.

While it may be true that the late night hosts prefer to be friends rather than foes, a slugfest is still going on. It lies not on the airwaves, but rather on the social media battlefield where hosts compete for video views and viral status every night (or on replay during lunch breaks the following afternoon).

Whereas late night's old guard "dealt with" social media, the new guard embraces it. CBS' Late Late Show host James Corden filmed an entire show at YouTube's studios. Fallon has a dancing panda sidekick named Hashtag. Even new kid on the block Steven Colbert welcomed YouTube sensation PewDiePie to join him on the couch, elevating social media celebrity to new mainstream heights.

So how can you win the viral game and rack up subscribers? Here are a few tips–– gleaned from the men behind the desk (and their social media teams behind the curtains)–– that can inform your own social video strategy.

Master Facebook’s auto-play strategy with a tip from The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah

A joke’s punchline is nothing without a proper set up. New host of The Daily Show, Trevor Noah makes sure his fans don’t miss a beat by leveraging Facebook’s closed-captioning feature. Because Facebook automatically plays video within the timeline, inserting closed captioning or subtitles will make sure your videos resonate without sound, allowing those views to rack up.

Boost content discovery with help from Jimmy Kimmel

It's easy to get sucked into a YouTube blackhole but Jimmy Kimmel ensures that the endless spiral includes his hilarious content. Well-crafted playlists, link-rich captions and a masterful tagging strategy makes it easy for viewers to go on a binge of celebrity mean tweets, watch years-worth of footage of parents telling their kids they ate all of their Halloween candy, or indulge in an anthology of every Matt Damon burn.

Test new platforms like the Tonight Show star

LIVE on #Periscope: Monologue rehearsal now

— jimmy fallon (@jimmyfallon) October 5, 2015

Periscope users watch 40 years of live video every day. On the Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon capitalizes on the “of the moment” social media trend by using Periscope to give viewers a look behind the scenes. Fallon has treated viewers to sneak peeks of monologue rehearsals as well as a look into the makeup room as he prepares for a bit.

Be the first to leverage new technology like Conan O'Brien


Staying ahead of cutting edge video technology could give your brand the edge in views. 360-degree videos give users a more interactive and immersive view into the world from which you're broadcasting. Conan O’Brien tested the platform at Comic Con to give his viewers a full view of not just the celebs on the stage, but the electric atmosphere in the theater. Brands would be wise to use 360-degree video technology to add a compelling storytelling element to their content.