SMART Streams have been captivating Twitch and Justin.tv from the very beginning. You need to understand them so that you can replicate their success. If you learn them, they'll be a core component of how you make EVERY stream special. If you fail to learn them, you risk falling into obscurity and not understanding why. So let's roll up our sleeves and get ready to learn something that will alter your streaming life FOREVER.
SO WHY HAVEN'T I HEARD OF SMART STREAMS?
You've never heard of them because the idea has never been applied to streaming directly. But if you've ever watched a video about goal setting, hung around in corporate training, or you consume self improvement content I'll bet you've heard of SMART goals. SMART streams are streams that apply almost all of the principles of SMART goals directly, and they WORK. What's more, is that if you use our template for them, they'll help you clarify what you're doing and help you track whether your stream was successful or not.
SMART STREAMS - Specific
Specific stream? That's just like a stream where I play a specific game, right? NOPE. It means your stream should have at least one objective, or hopefully several objectives of different sizes. Some examples of streams that have specific objectives are as follows:
- Speed Run / World Record Attempt / No-hit runs
- Birthday or Anniversary Celebration
- Charity Streams
- 24 hour streams
- Podcast streams discussing a specific topic
- Creative or art streams
- Sub/bits goal that rewards CHAT with something they want to create a positive feedback loop
You've seen all of these before whether you realized they were the S (specific) in SMART streams or not! They have a purpose!
SMART STREAMS - Measurable
If we look at the examples above, the specificity of the stream's objective allows us to tell how much progress has been made towards the goal. Monetary goals are trackable by progress bar or bar chart through Streamlabs/Stream Elements. Speed runs are trackable by overlay telling us when the runner is on pace and how close to completion their run is. 24 hour streams are trackable by hour. Art is trackable by how finished the piece looks. And podcast streams accomplish their goal by actually taking place.
In all cases, the progress towards the goal set for the stream is trackable for those producing the content, but is OBSERVABLE by viewers in chat. This allows them to try to contribute towards the outcome of the stream and be part of something tangible that was produced in the world.
SMART STREAMS - Attainable
The goals set above have to be achievable within the course of a single stream, or multiple streams. Or at very least the audience needs to PERCEIVE these goals as being attainable - more than pipe dreams, flash, and smoke. Here are some factors below that influence whether people will see the goal as attainable:
- Does the streamer believe the goal is attainable? If they don't, the audience won't.
- Is the amount too much to do in a single stream? Depends on the size of your community, but if the goal seems laughable then people won't contribute to something that won't happen.
- Can they see the streamer making progress in real time?
- Does the streamer have the prerequisite experience to complete the mission? In Dark Souls speed runs, for instance, if the person dies repeatedly they probably don't have a chance at completing a World Record. They'll view it as CLICK BAIT.
- Is the audience going to be able to see the final result at the end of the stream? Success, failure, or reward?
SMART STREAMS - Relevant
Relevancy asks whether your goal is appropriate for your target audience, demographic, or your regular community. Do they WANT to see you achieve the goal you set?What do they get for this time/value exchange? Only you can answer this for sure, but if your community isn't interested in the goal or the reward attached to it, they'll not likely care very much.
Here's some examples below of what people might get for watching your SMART streams:
- World Record - To see high level gameplay and see someone achieve a major milestone that no one else has achieved. "I was there."
- Birthday or Anniversary Celebration - Congratulations for reaching a personal milestone in a streamer's own history. Streamer's history is the viewer's history too.
- Charity Streams - To contribute to a greater good on behalf of a friend/streamer, and to feel good about using their viewing time to have a positive impact on the world.
- 24 hour streams - To see how much torture the streamer is willing to put up with after being live for 20 hours.
- Podcast streams discussing a specific topic - To gain information on a topic they're interested in.
- Creative or art streams - To see something they can't see anywhere else in a style that they like, made by someone they can personally interact with.
- Sub/bits goal that rewards CHAT with something they want to create a positive feedback loop - To see whatever that reward is. Pie to the face, crazy event, cosplay rewards, etc.
SMART STREAMS - Time-bound
Time bound goals engage participation because people want to contribute towards the objective or purpose while the objective is relevant. No one wants to donate to a charity stream after the charity drive is over. Fewer people want to watch creation of an art piece when it's in the initial draft than when it's closer to completion. Is this a show that's a ONE TIME EVENT? Or is this something they could come back and see any time?
This inclination to see limited time events is called the Fear of Missing out, or FOMO for short. It's an intense psychological principle that increases participation in individuals that perceive that they'll forever miss out on an opportunity if they don't see it NOW. You see this all the time in the outside world with clearance sales, Black Friday deals, limited offer items like Elon Musk's Boring Co. hat, and of course in STREAMING.
The basic questions to answer here are "Are they only going to be able to see THIS thing TODAY?" And also "Are they only going to be able to see this content in YOUR channel versus the rest of Twitch?" For instance, if the content is mostly just game play with commentary people can really get that in any other channel on Twitch. So even though your personality adds uniqueness to the content, the value proposition isn't particularly unique in this case.
That's it for today! Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. And to make determining whether you're SMART streaming easy, I've attached a wonderful little questionnaire down below that you can use for planning your own SMART streams. I hope you find it as useful as I regularly do! Thanks for reading and see you boneheads next week! -Skullstream