When it comes to increasing your Twitch channel’s popularity and follower count, many streamers make the mistake of over complicating their goals, strategies and audience’s needs.
Live-streaming exploded from a handful of regular broadcasters and viewers to audiences in the millions in just a few years; coupled with the fact that streaming is still a relatively unfamiliar business model, people forget some of the most fundamental principles of growth.
In reality, persuading more people to subscribe to your channel is no different than developing a product and influencing more people to buy it, so going back to basics is the best starting point.
By definition, marketing is the process of focusing on your customers to develop relationships and satisfy their needs; even if you’re not monetizing your growth, this doesn’t change.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at what you should be concentrating on to grow your channel successfully and attract loyal customers that will stick around for the long haul.
Pick The Right Game
Unfortunately, while you might have a favorite game that you’re desperate to stream, if you don’t choose carefully, your channel just won’t grow.
Back in 2004, two professors from the European Institute of Business Administration published a book that contained a marketing theory know as Red Ocean vs. Blue Ocean. The ocean refers to the market for a product or service; if it’s red, the waters are bloodied from people fighting for their share of the market; if it’s blue, the waters are clear, and the market is relatively untapped.
In streaming terms, choosing a popular game like DOTA, Overwatch, PUBG or League of Legends will plop you in the deep end of the red, saturated “ocean,” with countless players competing for viewers and making it hard to gain any attention.
If you’re new to streaming and want to be successful, the key is to find yourself a blue ocean game; one where you’re not fighting tooth and nail for an audience. If anything, this can give you a lot more flexibility to play a niche game that might suit your streaming style.
Determining whether a game is in the red or blue ocean is simple; you’re going to find a lot less competition from a game with fewer channels and more viewers, and there are some handy tools online that can give you current streamer/viewer ratios and help you make your choice.
Know Your Audience
While new streamers have to select their game carefully to attract new audiences, the most popular broadcasters, like Shroud for example, can play anything they wish and still draw huge numbers, so why is this?
While people may initially be brought to your Twitch channel by a single game choice, they stay for two main reasons; your personality and the community you cultivate for them to be a part of.
Once you’ve begun to gain a few followers, you need to know what it is they like about you and your stream so you can expand on what they love and cut back on what they don’t. With streaming, the game you play isn’t the “product” that you’re selling; you are, and it’s important to remember that.
You need to make the time to engage with your audience both on and off-stream to make them feel like they’re part of a community. Dive into the forums of the game you’re streaming to network and promote your channel there, but be careful not to spam members and turn them away. Be natural, play to their interests and work with others.
Another common mistake new streamers make is assuming that they’re in direct competition with other streamers; while this may be true to a small extent, you’ve got more to gain by focusing on making your own content exceptional and collaborating with your peers, which is the direction most traditional marketers are heading these days.
When your channel gains momentum, it’s worth using a service like Discord to create a space for your community to grow.
Make the Most of Every Marketing Channel
By limiting your presence to your stream and niche forums, it’s impossible to reach audiences on a massive scale.
Fortunately, we already have a number of other marketing channels available to make ourselves known and, regardless of your opinion on them, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are perfect for gaining new followers and maintaining a relationship with them.
These services allow you to share even more content with potential viewers, such as streaming timetables, compilation clips, news that will interest your audience, and possibly original blog content.
If you really want to make the most of social media, you can even research and invest in targeted advertising to tell the right people about your channel.
Another common mistake businesses make when marketing is choosing the wrong marketing channels for their customers and product, which can ultimately result in a loss of time and money, and a weakening of their “brand.”
While a Facebook page might be a great way to reach your audience, something like Instagram isn’t suited to live-streaming video games, so before you dash to set up a new social media account, think hard about whether it’s going to help your channel.
Visual marketing plays a significant role in developing a brand and business. Major companies pay millions of dollars for professional graphic designers to make their products, advertising and branding a visually-engaging experience; fortunately, you don’t need much of a budget to do the same for your channel.
If you don’t have the resources to enlist a professional designer, you can easily find free services online to create appealing banners for your channel and social media accounts.
If you’re after something a little more polished, freelance websites like Fiverr are packed with designers who can whip you up a logo in no time for as little as $5, although you can pay more for extra revisions and multiple design concepts.
Another key feature of successful streams is overlays, which can display a plethora of information to viewers. Deciding what to show is essential, as you need an overlay that doesn’t have a negative impact on the viewing experience and is appropriate for the game you’re playing, but you don’t have to be a Photoshop wizard to use one.
Luckily you don’t need to be a Photoshop wizard to create one, since you can get your hands on some free Twitch overlays here for your stream.
The main thing to remember when it comes to marketing your Twitch channel is that you are someone selling a product, and while you should adapt your strategy to fit live-streaming, the basics remain the same.
Offer something different where there’s a gap in the “market,” delight your followers, perfect your “product,” utilize the appropriate marketing channels and craft a visually-engaging viewing experience. If you manage to do these while fostering a happy, healthy community, there’s no reason viewers won’t flock to your channel.