I’ve talked about these things before but let’s talk about them again. With some updated ideas, information and research. When it comes to these things I’m extremely important to constantly stay up-to-date with how things flow anyway so it’s a good point to revisit the topics. It’s time to be figuring out you and your audience on Twitch.
We all know Twitch have changed over the last year. There’s more streamers and there’s more viewers. The ones that got famous in the early days might have had it easier to get viewers back then. However, and this is a big thing, unless they adapted to the new Twitch (post-MySpaceTwitch) and some did but some didn’t. The ones that did kept growing and have made a place for themselves on Twitch post-TwitchCon. What did they do? They understood two things themselves and their audience. Not Twitch audience but their own audience.
The importance of understanding yourself
As a first step, nothing will ever beat understanding who you are and what you want out of streaming on Twitch. That goes for both strengths and weaknesses. Now I know that looking for weaknesses goes against what a lot of people think is helpful. It’s not about putting yourself down, it’s about making sure to use that weakness as a strength by either letting someone else fill that spot or doing something else that overshadows it.
Not only that you’ll be able to see all your strengths and it’s time to bet on those strengths. That’s what makes you into you. It’s what will set you apart from everyone else. Don’t be afraid of it even if you think that bigger streamers don’t do it since they all do. There’s still over spill from the MySpaceTwitch era so it can be a bit hard to see it cearly but if you where around back then you can see the drop-off for those that didn’t adapt to the new era. The numbers isn’t everything, it won’t make people stay only because you are higher in the directory rankings, and since you’re not higher up you better start somewhere else anyway. So don’t be afraid to stand out, don’t be afraid to be to cater to a smaller target audience at first, build your community and they will follow you on your journey into the next step. More about that later when it’s about the audience.
There have been this idea that you have to befriend everyone in your chat, and while it’s not a bad thing to do, it’s might limit you. If your community is built around, and let’s face in the beginning when there’s less people, building these close personal connections are easier. But there’s a limit, and no I’m not talking about the 1000 true fans, that applies to fans but not to close connections. As I said most smaller streamers are all focused on the close connections and in there is a fault… the number reaches somewhere around 300, guess what the most common number to not grow from is? I think you guessed it.
What can be done? Depends on what you want. If you want 300 and a very close community then that’s fine. The problem comes when you try to scale this. Have you tried having 300 close connections in real life? The same applies online. You probably won’t be able to maintain that amount, and on top of that we include real life as well (since the number actually tends to go up a bit, but 300 is what the studies have pointed to). There might have to be a point where you loose that close connection and go over to the true fans instead and start building form there to grow even more. It’s dosen’t mean that you will lose those 300 but there might be a bit of fall off, the reason? Well when you forget a name, and that’s very likely (you can use your mod team as a buffer), they might think you’ve let them down. A small thing but it’s the best example I could come up with. Here is where branding comes in, when someone can look at your social media, overlay, visual branding etc. and get an instant understanding of who you are and what you do. That connection happens faster and there’s a story there to follow, and we like to follow a good story no matter how it’s told… well as long as it’s a good story, and actually in some cases we’re just invested in the story and that makes us fans. But don’t forget that branding should change with you and with your audience and that’s why the audience is just as important to understand as you.
Next step is to understand your audience
If your channel was all about Tigers then someone that only likes Elephants probably won’t come. But there’s a lot of Tiger lovers out there and and after you have your Tiger audience you might expand to Tigers and Lions and then to an entire Zoo. All of a sudden you’ve included the Elephants as well. That’s how you scale and expand on top of your original idea/brand/niche. Or you can just do it, that actually also works (maybe not to the same affect but it works surprisingly well).
Probably a stupid story but it’s important to understand that an audience is built of people with a similar interest and that is you (and the things you do/like). They saw something in you that they liked. You want to play on that. That’s one or more of your strengths after all.
What should you do? There are a bunch of things that you can do. You either come out of the gate swinging, have everything ready to go with good branding and good content. Then you need to prove that you’re someone that will show up and you do that by being consistent. You don’t need branding/personal branding to be consistent but when you do have it you need to be consistent on both things. Branding is not a set-it-and-forget-it type of thing. It won’t work on it’s own and will always be an ongoing thing. You need pay attention to the conversation around you brand, did you listen to the panel at TwitchCon about branding? Paying attention to chat, twitter, Reddit and listening to what people are talking about and be part of that conversation and evolve the brand with it. Branding have changed and are still changing, with millennials, we want to be a part of the process and you can do that with your branding if you do it right.
You adapt with you audience. Long gone are “This is what we are” brands and in with the new and fresh that understands both themselves and their audience.
Lastly, and I’ve said it before, everyone IS NOT a target audience. You might think that some streamers try to target everyone but they don’t. I have yet looked at a big streamer that actually targets everyone. They have built up their brand to be able to sustain a bigger audience but they have not stopped having a very specific audience. We can look at itmeJP, someone that does a lot of different content, that also comes with having different audiences for different things. If that hard to maintain? Yes. It’s also obviously possible, it’s however not a one man job it’s an infrastructure that one person can’t hold on ones own back. That audince was built on top of State of The Game, transitioned with that e-sports connection into RollPlay and then broader content. It’s a well defined transition and if you look at it closely I outlined the same thing with the Tiger, Lion and Elephant earlier (Yay! I made it maake sense!).
If we look at CohhCarnage (also on Dropped Frames with itmeJP) he has a very defined target audience. Does that hinder him from growth? Of course not! It has on the other hand made him one of the biggest streamers out there. While it’s not for everyone there’s still enough crossover for it to be bigger then the initial target audience. He’s in fact scaling his “business” and not transitioning as JP does and have done.
Then let’s look at Zeke. It’s very clear that Zeke as a target audience it’s not based on age but on personality and antics, if you follow Zeke you enjoy him and what he does (as with anything else). Zeke are actually neither scaling or transitioning his content. I wanted to put that in here since to prove that you don’t need to scale or transition to grow you stream (it’s not a bad thing, but you don’t need to do it). Instead it’s built on almost personality and character alone, of course the community is very strong as well and Zeke is very “shareable” (something I’ll write about some other time). Most importantly is that Zeke attracts a very large, yet specific audience, others do the same but he’s perfected his version of it. You can do the same, you don’t need to be super unique as long as it’s defined well and you can use it to reach that specific audience. Having that defined audience will make that audience willing to share it with like minded people that most likely are their friends. Did you really think it’s a coincidence that these three guys work so well on Dropped Frames?
To sum it up you need to be defined and confident in who you are and you need to do the same when you figure out your target audience. After that it’s a roller coaster and you better be ready to adapt. That’s why need to be figuring out you and your audience on Twitch.
Oh yeah there’s ripples going on in the design community at the moment about something very interesting. Won’t write more about that since reading about something that makes no sense is no fun. Alright that’s it for this week! I’ll be back on Monday with a new article. Have a great weekend and have a wonderful stream! And do follow me on Twitter @visiblespeech and check out the podcast at podcast.livespace.se!
And yeah I’m trying to make the different hip-hop covers etc. into a thing for the blog.