Today I was listening to This Week In Google in the car and they brought up Late Night host Jimmy Fallon. I must confess that I’ve never seen his show due to the irregularity of an Australian airing (it has only just started airing on free to air TV….you used to need to have cable to watch it) and the fact that I simply don’t find those sorts of shows entertaining. However what they talked about what Fallon’s use of social media with a new ‘hashtag game‘.

The game is quite simple. On Wednesday Fallon tweets out a particular hashtag, in this case #MomQuotes to denote your mother’s more embarrassing quotes, and on Friday he reads out a selection of funny entries by the audience. Within 20 minutes of Fallon creating the hashtag it had already become a world wide trending topic.

This kind of exposure is something that social media marketers both fantasise or fear. On the one hand your client is gaining an incredible amount of publicity, your hashtag is exploding through the interwebs and you’ve most certainly earned your paycheque for the week. On the other hand…well…hashtags have historically been known to fail. However in this case Fallon and his team have kept to somewhat ‘safe’ topics and can simply choose not to broadcast any of the more offensive tweets. It also helps that Fallon and the Tonight Show program are relatively popular in the United States and so are less inclined to raise the ire of the internet (unlike the recent NYPD hashtag debacle).

However it was Fallon’s decision to broadcast a select number of tweets that arose my curiosity. Fallon has fully integrated social media into his show structure and, by doing so, has made his viewers more than a simple one dimensional aspect of his show. In this instance people have become contributors to the brand, will most likely see a small bump in their own followers and have their fifteen seconds of fame.

(Whilst similar to I actually differentiate between this and something like the hashtag #qanda which simply broadcasts people’s opinions on what the panelists are discussion. The #MomQuotes is contributing material to the Late Night show whilst the #qanda panel does not acknowledge the tweets on the screen and they simply act as a social media crawl.)

When new clients come to me their first instinct is to jump into social media with a bang. They want a presence on every which network there was and every one there every will be. Now as a social media marketer it is my job to fulfil my client’s wishes to the best of my abilities. I tell them calmly that I have no problem putting them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat and everything else under the sun however I then advise them of exactly how much it would cost to do so. We, within the marketing community, have a finite number of resources that we can assign to our clients without being stretched too thin. It would cost in the tens of thousands of dollars per month to adequately assign to post, monitor and reply to everyone on every single social network for a brand. If a client wants to pay that much then I’m more than happy to comply though. However, many of them baulk at the quoted figure. It’s much better to be strategic about your social media presence than anything else.

What do I mean by ‘strategic’? I’ve entitled this blog post ‘Integrate Don’t Saturate’ for a very specific reason. Some brands will find much more return on investment by assigning resources to Facebook rather than MySpace, or Twitter rather than SnapChat. Others may find that they’re gaining more reach on Instagram than they are on Pinterest. Saturating the social media landscape with your brand will do far more harm than good. Each social network, the major and the niche, requires a different strategy for each platform. What works on Instagram won’t work on Facebook or Twitter. It’s far better to integrate your platforms into a cohesive campaign. This is far more rewarding than being able to proclaim that you are on 55 different social networks.

Furthermore what the hashtag game does is it allows tweeters to feel that they have contributed to the show. it substantially increases the rapport between the brand and the consumer. You can be sure that anyone that may not have watched The Tonight Show were certainly watching on Friday night to see if their tweet made the cut. Then they’ll watch again on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and so on and so forth. Each time the hashtag game is played Fallon likely jumps in viewership. This is a clever integration of social media into his platform and is a lesson for all of us out there. Fallon didn’t spend a cent on advertising. He didn’t play this game on a dozen different social networks. He simply sent out a tweet.