Inside Jimmy Fallon's Twitter hashtag game

By Cory Bergman 

Late Night with Jimmy Fallon features one of the most popular Twitter-powered segments in TV: a hashtag game that turns viewers into contributors. Every week, Fallon mentions a hashtag on the air (like #ScrewValentinesDay), which sparks a flood of tweets with one-liners for the theme. Like this one:

After people tweet, many tune in the next night to see if Fallon’s team picked it to read on the air (they’re also featured on a blog, with honorable mentions). For the show, it’s free jokes. For the audience, a great way to participate. Often, Fallon hashtags become trending topics, providing free social promotion for the show. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Fallon has 3.1 million Twitter followers, either.

At the TVNext conference earlier this month, Fallon put together a behind-the-scenes video (above) that explains how the show picks hashtags and tweets to read on the air. Decidedly low-tech, but as Twitter’s Robin Sloan says about the hashtag segment, “it’s creativity, not technology, that makes this stuff work.”