Introduction - How to Get Your Twitch Chat to Talk More
Today, I'm going to give you strategies on How to Get Your Twitch Chat to Talk More Today. Consider this a best practices guide. Give the guide to your mods, recommend it to your friends. The more people that accept these ideas, the better your stream will get for you and your viewers.
The Importance of Chat!
There are 3 "entities" that act as sources of entertainment in a stream.
⦁ The Game - which people can watch in ANY other channel
⦁ The Streamer - who commentates and entertains uniquely
⦁ The Chat! - composed of unique personalities, vibes, and interests
All of these components are necessary for a thriving stream. The first two components you can find in abundance, but the Chat... you can only find truly vibrant ones in a few places. And for streaming, chat is king.
Don't believe me? Consider the following:
Twitch ranks you by the size of your chat. You're either going to be towards the top or towards the bottom of a game directory depending on it. Chat is Twitch's best indicator of the entertainment value of a stream. It's part of the Partner Review Process.
To Twitch, recommending people watch large vibrant chats is their best method for getting people to stay on Twitch and keep using the platform. If they recommend inactive streams, people won't keep using the platform. It's that simple.
Chat's really important, and without an active one, you should be doing YouTube, a more searchable platform, to find yourselves more chatters for your Twitch stream.
Get Your Twitch Chat to Talk More - The Commandments!
There's 5 commandments when it comes to getting Twitch chat to talk more. Chat will rarely follow all five, but knowing what the IDEAL chat looks like gives us something to shoot for.
1. Chat always needs to be moving.
The human eye is trained to track movement. When things aren't moving, your brain registers that something is out of place, or that your attention should go elsewhere. In the real world, we turn our head. On Twitch, we click away.
So it's of massive importance that you give people that are looking for something to read... some text to read.
You can use your Nightbot, you can use your stream deck, you can ask your mom, WHATEVER. As long as you're filling chat with literally anything, that's way better than nothing. Don't give the village idiot the chance to chime in and say "chat is dead".
2. Now if the most important thing is that chat is moving, the second most important thing is certainly that more than one person is moving it.
Mod walls are intimidating. Single-chatter walls also look bad. It's a signal that no one else in the room is paying attention, no one cares, or in the worst-case scenario gives the impression that someone is botting their views. Two or three chatters having a conversation doesn't seem like a steep ask. But it's actually incredibly rare. Having a chat with multiple chatters not just talking to the streamer, but with one another is the sign of a truly open community.
3. The third most important thing, is that new people NEED to be able to join in on whatever your chat is talking about.
People, even your best friends, aren't going to sit around and THINK about how to participate. You have to give them open ended topics that people already have opinions on so that they know what to say. And if NEW people can contribute, OLD people can contribute too. You're not leaving anyone out. Consider this part of your preparation for stream each day.
The other thing to watch out for here is that you really can't be talking about something only two people find interesting. The place for one-on-one conversations is universally off-stream. If your chat consists of having 20 one-on-one discussions between the streamer and 20 viewers, instead of 20 people all talking about one shared topic... you have a problem, my friend. We'll talk more about how to remedy this later.
4. Give information before you ask a question. Or better yet, never ask questions.
As a streamer, when you ask a question, you expect an answer back. Thinking of an answer takes time, and effort. The best rule of thumb is not to even ask questions at all. Instead, make open ended statements that people can contribute to. Expecting someone to expend effort on your behalf is really bad form, especially for a streamer. And as a streamer, remember your viewers default mode of operation is lurking. Lurkers compose about 80% of your typical audience, and other less strenuous streams are available elsewhere.
Additionally, remember that mobile viewers have a viewing delay. Mobile viewers don't get your stream in real time, and responses are often slower than PC users' responses. If you ask your viewers a question as a streamer, you may not even get a response back for another 30 seconds. And if the answer isn't phrased with enough detail, it can confuse the hell out of you, and the rest of the people in chat. And as a general rule, confusion is hella bad.
5. Give attention before you ask for attention.
Again, you gotta give before you ask. If there's a current topic of conversation, you should give it at least a little attention before you change topics or present one of your own. Otherwise, the people talking about the topic feel ignored, and like their participation wasn't valued. There are other people in chat, whether you're a streamer or a viewer.
Everyone loves feeling acknowledged, but if the streamer is the only person you're in the room to talk to then the contrary implication is that no one else matters. The same goes for streamers talking to EVERYONE. Not just subs.
Nobody likes feeling ignored, or feeling ostracized. And if a community has ostracized you, that's what it looks like. Being ignored.
Those are the commandments. Let's recap.
1. Chat's gotta be moving.
2. More than one person needs to be moving it.
3. Chat needs to be easy for new people to participate in.
4. Give information before you ask questions. Or better yet, never ask questions.
5. Give attention before you ask for attention.
What Violations of the Chat Commandments Look Like
"So how's everyone doing?"
I really hate this question. It's bland. It's forced. It's uninteresting, and it's asked often. It also addresses lurkers (a big no-no in streaming). The fact that it's asked often makes it DOUBLE boring because people have probably already heard it not just in your own chat, but MULTIPLE chats JUST THAT DAY. How many times can you answer that question before you don't want to anymore? How many people believe the person that asks truly wants to know, and that they're not just some courteous robot?
The fact that it's a question also implies expectation to answer it. In life, and in streaming, you gotta give before you ask. And because "how's everyone doing?" is so broadly addressed, it's subject to the Bystander Effect - A psychological principle where if no responsibility is assigned for a group request, no one does anything. https://www.britannica.com/topic/bystander-effect
If no one answers, the person asking faces embarrassment. It feels like they were ignored. The streamer panics because they don't want anyone to feel ostracized. The silent trolls laugh and prepare their "chat's dead" messages. It's not a good look for ANYONE in that room. The streamer can respond to it, but no text record of it exists. So anyone coming out of lurk looking back in chat or any new arrivals in chat will only see that nobody's responded. It's out of the streamer's control.
For a second, let's say that someone actually answers, "So how's everyone doing?" What's the most likely response?
End of conversation. Proceed awkwardness.
And neither party got the entertainment they were seeking by engaging. When you don't get what you seek, you eventually stop seeking, or you seek elsewhere, and that BLOWS.
The worst part of the scenario is that people who ask questions like this will feel ostracized from the group. It's regrettable because they want to participate, but they brought nothing in. So they got nothing out. Whether they blame themselves, or blame others for what happened... the feeling is still negative overall.
So next time you think about asking this, I want you to think to yourself: "If I ask everyone how they're doing, without telling them how I'm doing first, I am expecting them to entertain ME without first entertaining them." Remember to give before you ask.
Next violation: Obvious Observations
"omg i got a pokemon"
"haha u got stabbed!"
"Yup. I sure did. / It sure was."
Yes. Everyone already knows. It's a waste of words. You can't generate a conversation from any of the statements above, and there's nothing for anyone else to respond to, either. It offers no insight and no opportunity for discussion. It's filler text. A robot could be saying it (AND THEY DO). You see this behavior from people who rotate through many chats at once, typically. These are people that have no desire to talk with others, and have no idea what's going on. They're not really looking to be part of your community.
As a streamer, focus on WHY you're doing things. The audience has the WHAT.
As a viewer, asking why someone's doing something is a great place to start. Relating the observation to pop culture is another method, and making insightful observations is the last.
Next violation: One-word or emote responses
These are fine for chat, but as a streamer you really don't need to be reading them. Neither does chat, actually. They basically just communicate that the person on the other end of the keyboard exists and they haven't been parted from their hands just yet.
Groups of these types of responses are a GREAT way to gauge chat sentiment, but there need to be multiple chatters expressing them. Typically you'd want to use this type of reaction to tell chat to CLIP IT, because it was probably a funny or reaction-worthy moment.
Most of a large stream's chat actually is this. It's ironic, because a REALLY fast-moving chat has the same conversational value as a chat that's REALLY slow (none). In both cases, the streamer has to lead that chat on their own, without any reliance on what people are saying. In some very large streams, the mods' jobs are actually to look for messages the streamer can respond to.
As a helpful viewer, try not to use one word responses like this when chat is slow. The streamer never knows how to react to it. When chat's moving quickly or when other people are expressing astonishment or spamming, feel free to join in the hype.
As a streamer, I actually use Chatty https://chatty.github.io/ to block these types of response from my view. It lets me focus better on people I can respond to, and chat that's deserving of a response.
Next violation: Frodo's Dead Rat
Imagine you and a few friends were talking about who the best Doctor Who actor was. Obviously it's David Tennant. But Matt Smith has some excellent merits. And then there's the totally awesome Peter Capaldi who's one of my favorite old people. War Doctor OP.
*BAM* The front door slams open.
In struts a cross-eyed, buck toothed, mouth-breathing hobbit looking dude.
He's holding something furry and matted in his hands.
It's tail sways back and forth waddling like a metronome punctuated by the slap of wet hobbit-feet on wood.
He strolls right into the middle of your discussion, obstructing the four other people around you and holds out an immobile rodent-shaped creature.
"Streamer, ::wheeze:: look at my dead rat." He says, out of breath with saddened excitement.
While taking responsibility for your new guest, because you own the place, you WANT to acknowledge their loss. You want to express empathy for what they're going through. You want to tell him you've lost pets before and that you understand. You hope people react the same way.
They were onto another party the minute Frodo made the current discussion, and their participation in it, irrelevant. The one guy who stayed doesn't even know how to react to the dead rat.
"Don't make eye contact," his instincts tell him.
Such is the power of social norms, good manners, and anonymity.
Social norms and good manners would dictate you wait your turn to discuss something. They'd dictate that Frodo acknowledge the other conversationalists. In response, they acknowledge Frodo. It's another example of giving before you ask. But this time you're giving attention before asking for it.
The world doesn't give a shit about Frodo's dead rat if he doesn't have good manners, and show common courtesy.
Whether you like it or not, that's the cold hard truth. And if you were empathetic to Frodo, you're now missing three other people who feel like they don't matter. And you've attracted the attention of someone who thinks it's okay to ignore others to share things about themselves.
I've seen this happen hundreds of times. If you want a healthy community, you want your attention to go to people that give others THEIR attention in your chat. Encourage the people with good manners and social awareness to stay. And while a dead rat is sad, Frodo's ignorance of other chatters and lack of empathy towards them will hurt your community over time. You'll also probably lose Frodo's attention if you ever stop prioritizing him over other chatters.
So politely ask him who he thinks the best Dr. Who actor is, let him know what the current topic is, and say "sorry about your rat". If he engages, great. If not... you're going to lose Frodo anyway, and it's better to lose him sooner than later. But be nice about it. He just lost his rat.
Preparation - The best way to Get Your Twitch Chat to Talk More
The secret to always talking, and therefore the secret to always getting people to talk in your chat, is preparation. I know. I know. Preparation is hard. It's like doing homework. But hear me out. Grab a sheet of paper, some note cards, a whiteboard or whatever.
Start writing things down that YOU like to talk about. Write down what you're PASSIONATE about. Write down unique experiences you've had, interesting current events, greatest accomplishments, interesting weekends, what you do in your free time, etc.
This is called a "conversation resume". It's a list of topics you know like the back of your hand, that you can speak about passionately. And if you're not speaking passionately... no one will listen. Passion is what grabs an audience. Passion is INTERESTING. People respond to passion. You could say IDIOTIC things if you say them passionately, and people will listen.
Creating a conversation resume is useful for all walks of life where you'll be talking to people. Interviews, dates, phone conversations, social events, TwitchCon, streaming, Discord, restaurants, bars... the list goes on.
Here's some quick bullet points for making yours:
-5 unique experiences
-5 interesting accomplishments
-5 interesting current events (always changing)
-5 greatest accomplishments
-3 most interesting weekends
-opinion on 10 current events or pop culture events
-5 things you do in your free time and why
-3 facts about your career or job that would be interesting to others
-1 funny story about your hometown, or your childhood
-3 embarrassing moments from the last year
-fallback stories (stories that may not be yours but are interesting to listen to)
So that's a list of about 46 things you could bring up at any time during a stream. Some of them rotate with current events. Write them down, keep them on a notepad or some index cards next to your PC. You'll ALWAYS have something to talk about, and the more you talk about them the better your storytelling skills will get.
Importance of The Game in getting Your Twitch Chat to Talk More
The game is also important. You have to remember that most new people will find you through the game you play. It's just the way searching on Twitch works. They'll identify you with that game. It'll become part of your brand, and it'll become a place to talk about the game. After streaming for three years, it's just one of the many reasons I recommend streaming a MAIN game.
But most importantly new people, who found you through the game, know they can ask questions about it. It gives chat a shared topic of discussion that anyone can bring up. People know how to interact with one another and BEFORE THEY EVEN COME IN THE DOOR, they have a topic they can discuss together. It helps if you're able to educate people you've found through other games on the new game, too.
Gamers aren't usually the most social bunch, by reputation. Having a shared topic to combat silence with is a BIG DEAL. It's an even bigger deal when you conclude that gamers come from ALL walks of life and ALL demographics, countries, sexes, preferences. Uniting them around one common theme is the way to go.
Some Open Ended Topics, and ways to Present Them
"So I just finished Altered Carbon, and I have nothing to watch now." (people will suggest shows, that other people will probably have seen, or they'll comment on the show you watched)
"I wanna go to a movie but I don't know whether to see Star Wars or something else." (people will render an opinion on the film or recommend something else)
"So I was eating X, and it reminded me of a story Y." (people will share theirs)
"I really love camping, the fire, fishing, the stories. We'd go to this place, with these people... etc." (everyone does SOME kind of outdoor thing)
So I heard about this news story...
So there's this game coming out...
The key feature to all of these statements is that YOU contribute first. You're asking nothing. You're giving material for them to work with that's easy to respond to and you're putting zero responsibility on the other person.
If Chat's Talking, I'm Good, Right?
Yes, and no. Always be grateful that people took extra effort to type SOMETHING. It means they're engaged. That's a good thing. But, like with all good things - they can be corrupted.
You all know about trolls, harassment, confrontational chatters, oversharing, whining, and ridiculing. I file these behaviors under "chat that requires extra effort to correct". This type of chat takes away from the entertainment value of a stream, and erodes your sanity and faith in humanity over time little by little. It also speaks really poorly of your community if crappy behavior goes unanswered, or is only answered by the streamer. It looks bad.
And sadly, you'll be judged by onlookers by what you tolerate AND how you handle a situation. They'll notice your facial expressions and tone of voice. They'll notice whether you're strict or lenient. They'll notice whether bad behavior puts you off, and the angrier you get the worse you look. No matter how deplorable the behavior might be. There's zero risk for the troll in these situations, and a TON of risk for the streamer.
The best way to handle these things is not to handle them at all. Have a mod handle a ban or a timeout. The less you react to negative behavior, the better. Don't argue with them, don't attempt to chastise them, just have a mod time them out or ban them. Worry about it after. These things can be especially annoying if chat isn't moving that quickly. It becomes very obvious very quickly that the entertainment has been completely derailed. And that's why the next section is so important!
How to Handle Awkwardness - Artificial Chat Movement
If you've never had an awkward moment on your stream, you haven't been streaming long enough. It'll happen. People will be banned, someone will ask something ludicrous, someone will pop in with a racist name, etc.
I'm about to prepare you for those moments. You ready?
You're gonna spam your chat, or have people spam it for you. I don't care whether it's emotes, or your friend's stream link, or pyramids, or hype commands, or other bot commands. It could be a giveaway, it could be a raffle, a stream game like Marbles, whatever.
Chat gets awkward because nobody knows what to do, or how to react so YOU NEED TO TELL THEM. When you've essentially killed a chatter by banhammering them (you've said goodbye forever, no longer wish to interact with them, and have no desire to hear about their lives), you gotta get whatever caused the chat to stop OFF the screen.
You do that with spam. Simple.
Ban someone > Spam
Someone's an asshole > Spam
You want to tell someone off > Time them out and Spam
You'll be amazed at this method's effectiveness. And after you're done spamming, you reach into your index card pile with your conversation resume and you pick one to talk about!
CHAT TRAPS - HOW NOT TO Get Your Twitch Chat to Talk More
To wrap up this article, we're going to talk about some common chat traps streamers fall into.
1. Spending too much time on people who don't want to be part of your community
- From day 1, you're going to meet people who want your community but really want nothing to do with your content. They don't watch, they don't chat, and they only maintain relations with you in the hopes of a connection or raid. Basically, they couldn't tell you what your content actually is if you asked them. And if they can't do that, it's impossible for them to be advocates. It's impossible for them to help build community. It's even impossible for them to recommend you to a friend, since they have NO IDEA what you do.
2. Acknowledging people who abuse the !lurk command
- I love my lurkers. But, there's people who come to chat to say !lurk, and the next two times they speak it's to tell you they're going to bed, and to say that they really have to go to bed, and that they wish they could stay up, but they have to go to bed, and also that if they didn't have to work, they'd totally stay up... but they have to go to bed.
- You think I'm making this up, but I assure you I'm not. This deserves a spam response. If more than 50% of a person's chat is a declaration that they're not going to engage with your chat - DON'T CHAT WITH THEM. Don't encourage it, and don't encourage others to follow suit. You can't have a chat that's main topic is LEAVING IT.
- People are social animals. When one person declares they're leaving, the other people check their watch. Look out for it if you don't believe me.
- These people are not helping you Get Your Twitch Chat to Talk More
3. Spending too much time talking about one viewer's personal life
- Acknowledging someone is good. The fact that they're in there sharing is great. The fact that they feel safe enough to share their lives is AWESOME. But if this continues on for like 25 minutes, you're going to lose any audience that you had who was there for interesting topics, the game, or things that could be relevant to them. In general, it's always a good idea to focus your entertainment around NEW people (see Commandment 3 above).
- People tend to be most interested in themselves. In How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie lists "Become Genuinely Interested in Other People" as a success factor. He also says "Encourage Other People to Talk about Themselves", and "The average person is more interested in their own name than in all the other names in the world put together."
- So while the above things are true, remember there are other viewers in the room that probably HAVEN'T read Carnegie, care more about themselves than anyone they've never met before, and are here for the game and not stories about Frodo's Dead Rat.
- Being interactive is good, but the bulk of your entertainment, and the bulk of your chat needs to appeal to the broader audience. Always be aware of this.
4. Being TOO interactive and available
- People want what they can't have. If you make yourself too available, people will stop valuing your presence or your insight so highly. Think about the last time a big streamer read something you said. Felt pretty good, didn't it? Last time a small streamer ignored what you said? What a jerk. Amirite?
- If you respond to EVERYONE, it becomes an expectation, versus an unexpected bonus. People will chastise you for "missing" their messages and ask you to stop everything, scroll back up, and read their message in it's entirety. If you never started reading EVERYTHING, people don't carry that expectation. It's an unfair world.
- If you respond to EVERYTHING, chat has less of a need to talk among ITSELF to entertain one another. In severe cases, chat becomes dependent on ONLY the streamer for entertainment. A community is no community that refuses to talk among itself.
5. Never encouraging people with great insights, with great questions, and who are awesome at engaging others
- You get out there and thank the people that do this in your chat.
- They're rarer than the 1%. They're the 0.000001%. Treasure them, hug them, shower them in gold.
- Mod them if you can.
- But mostly just really understand that they're exactly the kind of person that you want in your life - not just in your stream. The kind of person you can have a discussion with and that understands how to help.
- There's two kinds of people in life. People that take you and your content as you are, and people that would love your content if only it were some differnt game, or totally different content. Encourage the former, because the others aren't helping you Get Your Twitch Chat to Talk More