I regularly check Twitter's trending topics, and a few months ago I noticed that the top trending topics were "The DOC" and "Twitch is Down".
Twitch being down grabbed my curiosity, why was it down? Now my sum total knowledge of Twitch at this point was that it was 'that site where people watch other people play video games". I'd known about the site for years, but had maybe spent 15 mins total on it.
So I clicked the trending topics, and quickly discovered that Twitch was down because a popular gamer, DrDisRespect had returned to Twitch after a long hiatus.
And his return had crashed the site. This definitely got my attention.
DrDisRespect is one of the most popular gamers on Twitch, and the self-appointed 'Face of Twitch'. He's a very skilled gamer and perhaps an even more accomplished marketer. Brash, flamboyant and over the top, he's a sort of a cross between Seth Godin and Ric Flair.
And make no mistake, he's popular as hell. Check out this screenshot I took from a recent gaming session. He was playing Playerunknown's Battlegrounds, a 100-person battle royale online game, which is one of the more popular games on Twitch. Think of it as Fortnite's older brother. When I took the screenshot, he'd just won a game of PUB in spectacular fashion. Note in the chatbox that he got 15 comments in one second.
It's not uncommon for his streams to have 25,000 or more viewers. On the day in February when he crashed Twitch, he had over 300,000 concurrent viewers, a Twitch record that would later be broken by a Ninja/Drake tag-team Fortnite session that would bring over 600,000 concurrent viewers to Twitch. His streams typically last for 6-8 hours a day, Monday-Friday. Twitch users can donate to their favorite streamers, and it's not uncommon for popular gamers to make well into the 6 or even 7 figures a year. DrDisRespect is rumored to make up to half a million a MONTH off Twitch.
There are many other streamers that are quite popular and making a lot of money off Twitch. But what I've noticed from watching the streams the last few weeks is that almost all of the gamers on Twitch are very cordial and even helpful to each other. Even the most popular streamers go out of their way to engage their followers. It's not uncommon to see the biggest streamers taking time out from playing to give members of their chat advice on how to build their own gaming community. And I found it interesting that a lot of the advice that Twitch streamers had for building a community apply to blogs and social media communities just as easily. Here's some of the frequent advice I've seen popular Twitch streamers share about building a community:
- Don't start out streaming with the most popular games as your stream will get lost in the shuffle. Start with a game with a smaller number of views, so your stream can be more easily seen and so you can stand out. This is the same advice new bloggers are always given: Pick a niche and own it!
- Be consistent. Stream on the same days, at the same times, so your subscribers know when your stream will be up. Again, bloggers are given the same advice: Pick a posting schedule and stick to it.
- Engage your followers. Talk to them in chat, acknowledge them when they subscribe or donate. Again, same thing we tell bloggers, reply to comments and THANK people when they do comment!
- Don't be afraid to be yourself and show some personality. I think this REALLY works for Twitch because it's typically a younger audience, but having a personality and being entertaining counts for a lot. I'll be honest, watching DrDisRespect's stream has been a bit eye-opening in this regard. I've seen several other streamers that are as good as Doc or maybe even better, but Doc goes out of his way to also be ENTERTAINING in his streams, and I think that's a big reason why he's so much more popular than other streamers who may be as good at gaming, but who aren't nearly as entertaining as Doc is. Personality and voice matters, and it really does help your content stand out.
Another aspect that I noticed with these Twitch users is that most of them, especially the more popular ones, go out of their way to help their followers get better at playing the games they stream. The above screenshot is from Twitch user chocoTaco. He does a great job of helping his followers by taking the time to explain how to play the game, as he is streaming. He will carefully detail why he picked a certain weapon or why he went a certain route or how he beat another player. Plus, streamers like chocoTaco often play 'randoms', where they will invite their followers to play with them, they will pick a follower at random and play a game with them together. This is obviously a big thrill for the Twitch users to get to play alongside their favorite streamers. In fact, during one of DrDisRespect's streams, he mentioned that another Twitch streamer, CourageJD will often play Fortnite with his followers at random to help them get their first win at the game. You can see why this would really be a big deal for the first-time winner!
This also speaks to a larger point; Don't focus on understanding the tools, focus on how people are USING the tools. To me, seeing how Twitch streamers are using the site and how they build community with their followers is far more valuable and interesting than the site itself. These streamers are creating value for their followers by teaching them how to become better at the games that they love playing. All they are doing is creating useful content. I've always written here that you should strive to create content that teaches your audience a skill, or how to get better at using your product. This is what these Twitch streamers are doing, and it's at the heart of why they are so popular.
What You Can Start Doing TODAY to Build Community Like Twitch Streamers Do
- Always reply to all comments, most especially positive comments you get on your blog or on other social media sites. This encourages people to continue to comment and engage with you.
- Pick a schedule and be consistent with it. Post content at the same times, if you create content 'whenever I feel like it', then you're making it doubly hard on yourself to build a following. People need to know when they can expect a new blog post from you, or what times and days you'll be on Twitter or Facebook.
- Pick a smaller niche or topic, and own it. The broader your topic, the more content creators you will be competing with for attention. For example, there are millions of 'marketing' blogs out there. I specifically focus on customer engagement, customer loyalty, brand advocacy and brand ambassador programs. As a result, my content typically ranks on the first page of Google results for the term 'brand ambassador program'. By narrowly focusing on that marketing sub-topic, I've gone from competing against millions of other sites, to only a handful, for that top result on Google.
- Be entertaining and show your personality. This one is tricky because we've been taught that if we are trying to reach a professional audience, that our content should be professional as well. On the other hand, we're also taught that we need to find a way to make our content stand out from the crowd. Adding some personality to your content makes it different, more appealing, and helps it connect with your audience. This is the one area where I'm going to be focusing on the most in the future.
- Have fun! Going along with the above point, look for ways to have fun with your content creation, that's infectious and if you're having fun creating your content, your followers will probably have fun interacting with it, and you!