Twitch.TV and The Power of Creating a Community

Twitch.tv is a social video platform with live streaming of video games, video game culture, and creative arts such as cooking and programming. Much like Youtube, there are individual video and stream producers who are more popular than others. Also similar to Youtube, you can make hundreds of thousands of dollars via live video streaming and producing content. Typically people who aren’t familiar with or aren’t interested in watching live video game streaming will question the motives of spectators, and that’s reasonable. Although we won’t be discussing, arguing, or debating whether or not watching other people play video games is reasonable entertainment, we will be discussing how live streaming video games requires vast amounts of personal marketing and similar motives to that of sports. Also, we will consider how the essential community management relates to well-known World Wide brands.

Motives of Twitch.tv Spectators

To understand what drives spectators to Twitch.tv and what drives someone to watch on average 106 minutes a day, we’ll use the Sports Motivation Fan Scale created by Wann. This scale is usually used to identify what motivates spectators to watch and/or attend sports events. According to Twitch.tv, the general reason people are coming to their website is to watch others who are highly skilled or highly entertaining, discover video games, and to interact with audiences and streamers themselves. If we take a look at the SMFS, we can easily assign a group of motivations based on what Twitch.tv provided us. Self Esteem, Escape, Aesthetic, Group Affiliation, and even Eustress and Gambling can all tie into reasons for being a video game spectator. The most common motives would have to be escape and group affiliation. Very similar to sports, TV, movies, and other visual content, the ability to escape from daily stresses can be crucial for mental well-being. The difference here is that Twitch’s spectators are a market segment that has been completely ignored for a long time. Group affiliation may be foreign to non-Twitch users. Imagine this, during every single sports event you watch there is a chat room with like minded individuals. Throughout the game, discussions are going on about how the team is performing, what the coaches are doing, who your favorite player is, or even where you live. This type of community is prevalent within every single Twitch streamers channel and is largely the reason specific streamers are so successful.

Community Engagement

Even more similar to sports entertainment, Twitch streamers must engage and build a community. This is easily the most important aspect of streaming and is the difference between people who make $100,000+ a year on Twitch and the ones who give up and make $0. To create and foster a healthy community several things must be done, all of which are related to engaging a brand’s community. A streamer must give quality content, incorporate social media, personalize fans, gamify efforts, fan source, and use fans to amplify your message. Twitch has done a great job of providing these options to streamers so they may grow a following the correct way. Quality content may not be as apparent as first believed. Several streamers have a fan first approach, where their primary focus is communicating with spectators. Others don’t communicate at all but are high-level professionals that showcase extreme talent. Some have several people working together on one stream to provide banter while others provide live action board games. Content is vast and can be segmented by what the market demands.

bjergtwitchThe most interesting part of streamers on Twitch is the necessity and build up of social media like a brand would grow. Rather than a logo and name, the streamer themselves have become a brand and must build equity in the community as a whole. Take Bjergsen for instance, one of the highest viewed streamers for the popular game League of Legends. His channel shows a live video production with a profile located directly underneath it. Here you can find information on who he is, where he lives, favorite food, his Twitter account, Facebook, the specs for his computer and so much more. From a marketing perspective, you always want your fans to be talking about you and streamers must facilitate communication while they’re offline, much like a professional athlete.

Personalizing fans through a streamers channel is a potent tool to making others feel more like a community as well as increasing profits. Imagine going to a professional football game, and you see you and your family on the jumbotron! The same thing can effectively happen on streams. If you become a subscriber (supporter of the stream) or donate money your name scrolls across the screen and sometimes the streamer will give a direct shout out and thank you. If you could donate $5 to your favorite baseball player for them to give you a thank you and shout out, I bet that players throat would get sore from how many donations came in.

Gamifying efforts is somewhat new to the landscape and is something Twitch has been working hard on improving. The most common gamification system within Twitch is based on becoming a subscriber to a stream. Becoming a subscriber to a particular individual is usually $5 a month and comes with small amounts of benefits related only to that channel. A streamer can set up new benefits and icons for people who have subscribed for X numbers of months, creating a hierarchy of followers.

Overall, community engagement and management has become incredibly important in today’s World. The idea of community involvement only being needed for large brands is largely inaccurate, especially in this day and age of digital content production.  Whether you’re a streamer, a large brand, an entrepreneur, or even just an individual looking to start a career, you have to manage your community consistently and create great content.