We have all become very familiar with live video over the last year. Whether you love or loathe video meetings, there’s no denying Zoom and its peers kept the world turning in 2020. But meetings are just the tip of the live video iceberg. Last year, people watched over 600 billion minutes of live video on Twitch, a platform that has rapidly become the live streaming venue of choice for influencers and businesses alike. We even use Twitch for our cPanel LIVE broadcasts.
In this article, we’re going to explore what Twitch is and how businesses can build a Twitch community, engage with customers, and market their company.
What is Twitch?
Twitch is a live video streaming platform. Creators stream video and audio to viewers, who interact with each other and the creator on an instant chat associated with each stream. The platform, which has been owned by Amazon since 2014, was founded in 2011 as a special-interest streaming service for gamers to live broadcast gameplay and audio commentary.
Today its reach goes far beyond gaming and esports. It hosts content on a broad range of subjects, including music, lifestyle, entertainment, DIY, cooking, technology, and general interests. In contrast to traditional YouTube video hosting and social media services like Instagram Stories, immediate audience interaction is key to live streaming’s appeal. It’s all about the live experience and real-time engagement.
Twitch is particularly compelling to businesses focused on reaching a younger demographic. It receives 26.5 Million daily visits and hosts over 400 million unique streams each month. Over 70 percent of users are under 35, and 41 percent are younger than 24. Because of its gamer heritage, the platform’s demographic mix skewed heavily male, but by last year 35 percent of its audience were female, and there are many female creators among its top-performers.
How Do Businesses Grow their Twitch Community?
There are three primary ways businesses can leverage Twitch to increase brand awareness and build a community:
- Branded content.
- Influencer sponsorships.
- Display advertising.
Branded Content on Twitch
Perhaps the most impactful way for businesses to use Twitch is the creation of branded content. Successful streamers host original and entertaining live streams in a variety of formats. Some of the first businesses to appreciate its potential played to the platform’s strengths, hosting gameplay streams and tournaments.
More recently, Twitch has become the go-to platform for digital events, from conferences to meetups to talk shows. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses moved to a digital streaming model for events they would once have held in a live venue.
Twitch can also augment current audio and video content strategies. Live streaming adds another dimension to podcasts, webinars, how-to and support videos, educational content, interviews, and roundtables. The “live” aspect is anxiety-inducing for many of us, but the upside is access to a massive user base and input from a highly engaged community.
Branded content created while streaming can be repurposed. The platform saves videos for later restreaming, and they can be exported and uploaded to your other platforms, including YouTube.
Sponsoring Twitch Influencers
Influencer sponsorship on Twitch works in much the same way as on Instagram. Brands identify influencers—streamers with a significant following in the relevant niche—and sponsor their streams. In return, the influencer highlights the brand’s products. They may also highlight the brand via their other social media platforms.
Although the follower counts of the most popular streamers are smaller than their YouTube equivalents, influencer marketing on the platform is effective because it encourages interaction between streamers and followers, helping to build a more trusting and engaged relationship.
As you might expect, game studios like EA are among the most active influencer sponsors, but companies as diverse as KFC, Nissin Noodles, Mastercard, Turtlewax, and Chipotle have sponsored influencers and game tournaments.
Advertising on Twitch
Twitch offers various ad options via its in-house advertising platform, including both on-page display ads and unskippable video ads. Ads can be targeted to specific communities, and they are displayed on all channels to which users don’t have a paid subscription.
Tips for Effective Twitch Branding
As with all brand social media strategies, it’s essential to understand the platform’s quirks and characteristics. Here are our top five tips for growing a brand community on Twitch:
- Respond to your viewers: Interaction is a key aspect of streaming culture. You can’t expect to find an audience if you broadcast without taking the time to engage with viewers. When you stream, make an effort to respond in real-time to the chat.
- Avoid the hard sell: Prioritize entertainment and education in your streams. Twitch users aren’t opposed to sponsorships and advertising when they are associated with streamers they trust, but they don’t respond well to branded streams dominated by sales and marketing content.
- Know your niche: Twitch isn’t the right venue for every company. It’s a powerful community-building platform for brands targeting young, irreverent, and technically savvy people. If that doesn’t fit your company’s profile, other platforms might be a better investment, as we’ll discuss in the next section.
- Stick to a schedule: Twitch is primarily a live-streaming platform. It’s not like YouTube, where you can watch uploaded videos whenever you want. You and your community have to meet at a predetermined time. If you’re consistent, followers will integrate your stream times into their schedule.
- Invest in decent equipment: Cheap earbuds and your laptop’s built-in webcam might cut it for Zoom meetings, but streaming audiences won’t stick around for low-quality audio and video. Buy a decent microphone and camera.
Finally, don’t forget to promote your streams on other social media platforms. Twitch is hugely popular among some groups, but there’s no guarantee that all of your customers are users.
Alternative Live Streaming Platforms
Twitch is the largest video live streaming service, but it’s far from the only one. Depending on your brand, its products, and your existing social media following, you may find it easier to build a community on one of these competing platforms:
- YouTube Live offers the same basic functionality, but with the opportunity to reach YouTube’s more extensive and varied audience.
- Facebook Live is the social media giant’s built-in video streaming platform. It’s well integrated into the News Feed and, as you’d expect, prioritizes live interaction with followers.
- Instagram Live is part of the image-sharing app’s Stories feature. It’s not as configurable or feature-rich as Twitch, opting instead for a low-friction streaming experience.
Live streaming is a daunting prospect for many, but if you need a platform to help your business build and support a loyal and engaged community, Twitch could be just what you’re looking for.
As always, if you have any feedback or comments, please let us know. We are here to help in the best ways we can. You’ll find us on Discord, the cPanel forums, and Reddit. Be sure to also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and of course Twitch.