"How in the balls will people find my channel?"

This is a critical question that every single streamer needs to understand before they proceed with trying to grow a stream. The process of understanding will give you insight into how people work, which doubles as an incredibly useful life skill. And yes, we'll talk about the effectiveness of social media and other methodologies as well.

This subject is where streamers have the most difficulty, whether new or seasoned entertainers. If someone's going to fail, this is why, and I can help you avoid that.

So let's get into it! We're burnin' daylight here.

Being found - The different channels

Let's begin by making a list of how streamers are typically found on Twitch. I'll lay it out as if we were talking to a completely new streamer, in terms of effectiveness!

Note: You'll hear me talk about effectiveness a lot. That's because most streamers aren't full-time. They don't have all day to mull things over, and there's a billion things you could try that just won't be worth your time. When I write, we'll be conscious of the time versus effectiveness payoff. Or to coin a finance term, Return on Investment (ROI).

In Order of Effectiveness:

  1. Personal Conversations (Extremely Effective)
  2. Word of Mouth (Extremely Effective)
  3. Real Life Meetups (Extremely Effective)
  4. Hosts / Raids (Extremely Effective)
  5. Directory Browsers (Effective)
  6. Search Engines (Effective)
  7. Youtube (Effective)
  8. Instagram (Minimally Effective)
  9. Facebook (Minimally Effective)
  10. Twitter (Minimally Effective)
  11. TikTok (Minimally Effective)
  12. Follow for Follow (Ineffective)
  13. Spamming Channels (Ineffective)

Minimal effectiveness - Don't spend a lot of time on these

I can already feel that I'm losing some of you on this. "TWITTER!? MINIMAL!? DON'T YOU LIE TO ME!" Without spending hours on an analysis, I'll just tell you that there are a billion accounts out there on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok with very high follower counts, likes, or seemingly high engagement. Some of them are fake, some organic. Probably in equal quantities.

In the case of organic growth, their Social Media engagement is typically a RESULT of their success on Twitch, instead of being contributory to their success on Twitch. Said differently, Twitch is growing streamers' social and not the other way around. There are many cases of widespread popularity on social media not translating to conversion on Twitch. But why?

There's no definitive proof regarding why Social Media doesn't lead to wild success on Twitch, but I'll take some educated guesses. Time would likely be a factor. Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram tend to be short-form entertainment. By design, this makes them suitable for featuring Twitch clips and short blurbs, but makes them unsuitable introductions to a long-form 3-5 hour stream (or longer!). If they had the time or desire to be watching Twitch, they'd probably be watching Twitch.

Another reason might have to do with the content. Social Media posts tend to be opinions, memes, selfies, polls, and art. And they tend to appear in that order of frequency. People might like your opinion, your pictures, the way you look in your selfie, your sense of humor, insights, want to participate in your poll, or your art. But these social posts rarely relate to the quality of your live stream. Streaming is very different from all of these content forms!

If you're going to use social for Twitch, use it in your free time and certainly don't prioritize it. Bus ride, waiting room, lunch time, etc. Feel free to fill those free time slots with these. Below I've included some tools you can use to check my statements above.


Social Blade

Ineffective Methods - DON't do these

With regard to Follow for Follow, #supportsmallstreamers, Spamming Channels with your link, slipping your Twitch link into random DM's, creator code dropping, and telling another streamer's chat you're about to go live: Don't do it.

Support small streamers, follow for follow, and other "grow fast" schemes will burn bridges and hurt you in the long run. Firstly, because people seeking follow for follow and #support are using the methods to RECEIVE and not to GIVE. They don't give a singular f**k about you, your content, your success, or authenticity. They're less useful than a bot sitting in your channel.

"Come support me cuz I'm small."

"Come follow me cuz I'll follow you."

These reasons aren't good enough. Make people laugh. Entertain them. Make a friend. Establish a working relationship with people. Add VALUE to their lives, not hollow gestures. Then they'll take an interest in you.

"I gotta go start my stream. I know we just met 10 minutes ago, but you guys should divide your attention to this streamer who's spent years building their community and watch me!"

If someone says things like this in my channel there's a lot I can tell about them:

    1. They're new and haven't learned Twitch etiquette, or they've ignored people telling them not to do this s**t
    2. They don't understand how valuable the relationships between me and my community are, and how long it's taken to develop them
    3. They think I recommend other streamers who's content I haven't vetted (sorry bro but I gotta make sure you're not a racist and that you're entertaining before recommending my friends watch you)
    4. They aren't courteous enough to ask for permission
    5. They have no idea they've permanently burned a bridge not only with the streamer, but with that streamer's community

If the streamer wants to recommend you, let them do it. Don't force them to time you out or chastise you for saying things like this. It's awkward for everyone.

Extremely Effective - Conversations

There's not really a wax-on, wax-off with streaming. But if there were, I'd say having conversations with people is definitely a fantastic starting place. People tend not to do this because ...well they just don't want to risk being rejected by trying to talk to a new person. I'm gonna give you some methods to get over that fear.

It's also worth mentioning I've never had someone stick around for more than a few months who I've not had a personal interaction with.

Icebreakers are a communication tool that you can use to initiate conversations with anyone, especially around the streaming universe. These icebreakers are effective, but I highly suggest customizing them to your own personality. Still, this is a way to get started without having to come up with brand new material.

Use these on Discord, Twitter DM's, Instagram messages, etc.

Icebreakers for Streamers you Admire:

"Hi! I'm a big fan of your content and I was wondering if you had time to talk about streaming. I'm kind of struggling starting out and just wondered if there were some pointers you could give me."

"Love your stuff! What kind of advice do you have for someone trying to make friends on Twitch?"

"Big fan! Was wondering whether gaining traction on Twitch was supposed to be this difficult or whether there was something I'm missing."

Icebreakers for Streaming Peers:

"So, you guys got room for any more players? Promise I won't get you killed!"

"Hey! Fellow growing streamer here. You think there's any method to all this Twitch madness? Seems like we're in the same boat."

"OMG... found this streaming article you might like. The guy sounds like a d**k but his advice is solid." (*wink*)

Note: The best way to let someone know you're a streamer, is to start asking them questions about streaming.

Icebreakers for (your own) Viewers:

"Hai! Thanks for hanging out in chat. Was wondering if you had any feedback for me. If there's anything you really liked or didn't like."

"Just wanted to thank you for any attention you paid me last night. Really appreciated things."

"I HAVE WOOD. S**t. Wrong window."

Icebreakers for Community/Influencer Managers:

"I just wanted to thank you for all the work you do on X game. I spend Y hours of the day playing it. I stream it. Thank you guys for creating such an awesome outlet for us. If there's ever anything I can do to help you guys promote, I'd be really happy to help."

"Your game kicks ass. You have any time for a quick chat? I'm an influencer on Twitch and wanted to see if there's any way we could help each other."

"You rock. My viewers think you're awesome. Thank you for this game."

Now keep in mind these are just the ice breakers. Whatever you say after the opening lineĀ  is up to you. The follow-up is up to you. Maintaining these relationships is up to you. But the hardest step is the first one. The more of these types of conversations you can have, the more quickly you'll find your stream populated with friends.

Also be cognizant that some people might not respond. Some conversations might get weird. But even in those cases, aren't you glad you found out it wasn't a great match? Having personal interactions is a great way to figure out who you like being around, and who likes interacting with you!

Homework: Have 10 of these conversations every day. Your life will change. Oh did I also mention these icebreakers work in real life, at real life meetups? And word of mouth is composed of... you guessed it. PERSONAL CONVERSATIONS!

Seriously, I cannot stress how important it is to talk to people. Make friends. Ask them how they're doing once a week, or more, preferably. Help them with their goals if they share them.

It's also another activity you can manage in your free time. Discord and all the social medias have their own mobile apps. There's no reason you can't go check a friend's feed, shoot them a DM, or share an article (*wink*) with them if you've got a minute. They'll be happy you cared. They'll be even more happy if you provided them value with the interaction. In my opinion, it's more effective than posting a high engagement Tweet, or a selfie.

Extremely Effective - hosts and Raids

Hosts and raids are extremely effective tools, but not for the reasons you think. Firstly, they're extremely time efficient. It only takes a few minutes to raid and hang out a bit with the person you raided. No better bang for the buck exposure-wise (for both of you).

In terms of sheer numbers, the conversion percentage for a raid won't be that great. You'll probably lose 50% of the original population of the raid since they'll click off and go watch someone who they've been following for longer. Some people might have other stuff to do. Some might be asleep. Some people just might not care. Those are the facts, jack.

BUT, the ones that stay, and follow, are the core group of active people supporting that streamer. They're the most awesome type of people you could hope to have enter your stream. And especially in a case where you're being raided by a friend, their endorsement of you will have a lot of influence on the people that come over from that friend.

Additionally, hosts and raids will move you up the directory. This increases your visibility to people browsing and looking for new faces to watch. This is arguably as important because when people are looking for new streamers, they've kind of been conditioned to not expect great things. That's your chance to exceed expectations!

Getting hosted/raided also gives you another conversation to have (see prior section)! More homework, more icebreakers, but most importantly you already have a common thread. Go thank them, get the lay of the land, and see if they need help with anything!

And make sure when you pay that raid forward, you do the same. It's a good policy to raid someone you have a good standing relationship with!

Effective Method - Directory Browsers

This method is covered in the Game Picking guides and revolves around playing games where you appear at the top of a directory. The logic for this is pretty simple. People want to find entertainment that's high quality, and relevant, as fast as possible.

The process of navigating the directory usually takes this form:

    1. Search for a game
    2. Check the top row
    3. Click the title or the thumbnail that stands out

The reason people don't usually navigate to the bottom, is that there really are just a lot of disappointing streams out there. Distracted streamers, poor quality, etc. People tend to gravitate towards the top of the directory as assurance that they'll see good content. And Twitch organizes these directories accordingly. It's not necessarily true, but that's the method they've chosen to support.

I wanted to rank Directory Browsers higher on the list because it is an extremely effective way to pick up organic viewers. But I also strongly believe that when you first start, the importance of talking to people outweighs the importance of actually streaming. While being live is important, making friends is far more so when you begin. Game picking guides below for convenience:

Variety Method

Greatest of All Time (GOAT) Method

Effective Method - Search Engines

Search engines like Google are a great way to be discovered because when people find you have the ANSWER to their QUESTION, your value to them is immediately established. It's hard to ask for a better first impression or introduction than that. It's either by word of mouth, or by a search engine that you've arrived here in the first place.

Twitch is many things, but it is not searchable. If you want to be found on Twitch, the directory and word of mouth are your best bets. It's for that reason that you should consider either a website, or another method of being found on Google. If you're worried about conversion... don't be. Eyes to the bottom and you'll see an embed window with yours truly in it. Conversion not required.

With the website, I've found a way to provide you value, end up in search terms, express my thoughts, and add an embed for my stream. Wins all around. The time investment is a bit high, which is why you need to commit if you choose this approach. But the potential benefit of ACTUALLY BEING SEARCHABLE ON THE INTERNET is too great for me to personally pass up.

Websites aren't the only way to be searchable, either. There's podcasts, Amazon skills, Reddit, forums, etc.

Effective Method - Youtube

Many of your top streamers, and definitely the top coaches, are more YouTubers than they are Twitch streamers. There's a great reason for that. It works. YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. The reason this isn't higher in the ranking is because YouTube is it's own beast, with it's own algorithms, and requires a high time investment to get rolling especially when you first start. In terms of startup time, it's a lot like Twitch.

It's also worth noting that the only people I know that have made YouTube work for their Twitch, have been full-time streamers. YouTube requires a schedule just like Twitch requires a schedule. Some sources suggest one video per week, others suggest two videos per week. Each video needs to be curated down to 8-10 watchable minutes (YouTube will rank your video based on watch % among other factors).

That means editing. Current popular belief is that editing will take about one hour per watchable minute of video. That'd mean 8-10 hours a week for one video, and a whopping 16-20 hours per week for a two-video schedule. That's on top of an at least 15 hour Twitch streaming schedule at bare minimum. It's certainly not for everyone unless you can afford to outsource your editing, or have enough time to do it yourself.

The final thing that I'll mention about YouTube is that repurposing content from Twitch (clip compilations, VoDs) doesn't perform well. There are too many people doing exactly the same thing. Your best bet to gain traction on this platform is producing content for this platform, and to spend some time learning its algorithms and metrics. But to reiterate, YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world and it's worth considering putting content up there. I wish I had when I started.

Conclusions and Wrap-Up

I know we've talked a lot about this. But most streamers don't even consider how people find their channel, at least not until later. They don't realize how much power they have over going out and talking to people, telling the world that their content exists and that you're someone who cares whether people are breathing or not.

Additionally, give some thought to search engines and how to make them work for you. Could be a website. Could be YouTube. Could be both. But I promise you Twitch isn't searchable, and that you would be doing yourself a service by figuring out how to most efficiently tell the gaming population you exist. Without being told, people won't even get the choice of whether to follow you or not.

It is that vital.

Maybe... streaming even harder isn't the most efficient way to reach your goals. For convenience, here's the list again. Thank you for reading this far, sincerely. Keep on streaming, boneheads. If you have any questions or commentary you can DM me directly in Discord!

In Order of Effectiveness:

  1. Personal Conversations (Extremely Effective)
  2. Word of Mouth (Extremely Effective)
  3. Real Life Meetups (Extremely Effective)
  4. Hosts / Raids (Extremely Effective)
  5. Directory Browsers (Effective)
  6. Search Engines (Effective)
  7. Youtube (Effective)
  8. Instagram (Minimally Effective)
  9. Facebook (Minimally Effective)
  10. Twitter (Minimally Effective)
  11. TikTok (Minimally Effective)
  12. Follow for Follow (Ineffective)
  13. Spamming Channels (Ineffective)