Refocusing on What's Important in Streaming
This is a genuine blog post detailing what I believe are effective uses of time in the Twitch streaming landscape in 2020. Also some of the biggest wastes of time.
What's (un)Important in Streaming - WASTES OF TIME
These are things you can stop spending so much time on in 2020:
Twitter/Instagram - It doesn't grow your following. It CAN remind people you exist. It is good for contacting community managers or them contacting you, but only if you're large enough to catch their attention. These platforms' usefulness for a stream of fewer than 100 viewers has been overshadowed by Discord.
For the coaches telling you how useful Twitter and Instagram are, check their YouTube track record. They typically hadn't grown these accounts until they made YOUTUBE content regarding, you guessed it, "How to Grow your Twitter/Instagram". It's no wonder the people they reached through that content followed on those socials. Your real takeaway from that should be "if you want to grow your Twitter/Instagram, make content on YouTube that appeals to people that want to grow those platforms."
In the case of both Twitter and Instagram, these platforms are intensely competitive, and neither has a great yield for growing your stream for the time spent. You should only be using them in your spare time, if at all.
TL;DR Anything you're doing on Twitter/Insta, you should be doing on Discord instead until you're a larger streamer. Impersonal posts geared towards everyone? Replace that with personally contacting your friends on Discord and inviting people to play games. Nobody's ever been able to prove that Twitter/Instagram has grown their stream. It's the stream growing the Twitter/Instagram.
Overlays, Stream Knicknacks, Sound Effects, and Quality Improvements - I lump all of these things into the same bucket. As a streamer I have been guilty of focusing the bulk of my time on quality improvements and experimentation. I expect others have as well. It's far less risky to focus on something you know will improve the quality of a broadcast than doing something that may not pan out. But it's the things that have a bit of uncertainty to them that pay off the MOST. Get your audio and video to "GOOD ENOUGH" status, get yourself one REALLY good celebration knicknack, and be off on your merry way.
TL;DR here is that when you're small, quality improvements aren't enough to get people to talk about you. They may be enough for people to regard you as professional, but these things aren't what's getting people in the door. And when you're small, you need to focus on getting people in the door. Can't convert someone you've never met. Can't convert someone who doesn't know you exist.
WHAT TO FOCUS ON
Alright, so if you're like me, that previous section probably freed up about 20 hours a week of your time. What to do with all that free time now? Whelp, you've gotta prioritize it according to the most effective payoff for the stage of streaming you're at. And most of us are in the early stages. Roll up your sleeves and dive in!
This is how you establish common interests and develop relationships in the gaming space. Talking. Direct communication. It's the best way to stand out among your peers because most streamers don't take the time to do this. They spend the excess hours streaming instead, hoping people will show up.
TL;DR The smaller you are, the more important it will be to reach out instead of expecting people to show up. And mathematically, if you played a game with 3 new people every week, by the third month you'd have 36 new people that knew you. 72 by the sixth month. 144 by the twelfth. This is the best method to DIRECTLY turn your TIME into stream growth when you're small. People care more when they spend more time with you. The approach also lets you specifically invite people who are on Twitch, and love the same game(s) as you. Common ground.
Becoming a Subject Matter Expert - PRIMARY CONTENT
There's 3 pieces of content you need to create on YouTube or a Website to become a subject matter expert:
1. New Players guide - The 101 class. A resource you can give to ANYONE that teaches them where to begin, and lets them know you're an authority on the topic. This means they'll probably come to you with questions.
2. Specific Roles guide - The 201 class that delves into specific roles/actions within a game. How to beat a difficult boss, how to play healer in an MMO, good hiding places in CoD. Things that show your level of expertise isn't just surface level.
3. Past and Future of the Game - The history (loremaster) class for the game that gets people up to date on its history and elaborates/speculates on its future. Lets you express your imagination and potentially contribute to the community. Could also include commentary on updates and balance changes.
TL;DR To become a subject matter expert, you need a subject. When people know you for something specific, they'll come to you to discuss it. They'll ask questions and refer their friends to you. And those people will even use your value-add content to get their teammates up to speed. The process of creating these pieces of content will get you up to speed on the lingo and insider language, which are key to evidencing your expertise.
Researching Current Events - SECONDARY CONTENT
Being able to play your game at a high level of competence should be goal #1. When you're able to do that without much thought, interjecting current events, humor, and social currency-laden content should be the next objective. Social currency is simply having information that people think is interesting or entertaining. It takes many forms, but in general the Twitch population cares about a few things:
1. What's happening on Twitch
2. Pop Culture Movies/TV Shows/Music
3. Major News Events like Corona Virus
4. Viral topics on YouTube and Reddit
5. New Streaming Tech
TL;DR Current Events as secondary content will always give people a reason to talk to you. You'll always have something useful to show them, or an opinion on the world. It means you're valued for more than just your primary content, and as your stream grows larger your opinions on these events will matter more. They're also FANTASTIC talking points to break up delivery of your PRIMARY content with. Highly recommend preparing a few Current Events for each stream. Also lets you stay on top of current trends, especially those in your niche.
If you're making Primary Content anyway, doing it carefully can ensure that your videos aren't just watchable but LISTENABLE. While the average YouTube video watch time is about 8 minutes, the average Podcast is listened to for half an hour or more. 3 YouTube videos are worth 1 Podcast worth of watch time. The pool of people listening to podcasts is more limited than that of YouTube, but the user base is dedicated. Worth taking a look at if you're already writing scripts and creating YouTube content. The content is also very similar to that of Twitch since more people are listening to your stream at any given time than are watching.
Websites can be used to embed your YouTube videos, and used to host visual aids to your PRIMARY content. They're a good place to draft scripts for YouTube videos, which then become the audio for Podcasts. It's a workflow that JUST MAKES SENSE. They're also great for collecting written records of everything you produce which can be used to pen a book later. And of course, they offer their own discoverability through Google SEO. Basically the same as YouTube, but more Twitch users use YouTube to find gaming content than other sites on the internet.
TikTok (or whatever the popular app is)
TikTok is great because its organic reach is UNMATCHED by any other application. Making content on this platform should be done as much as you can without taking away from your PRIMARY content. At one point in history, Twitter and Instagram were also the popular apps of the years. And organic growth was possible on them during this time as well. I suspect this will always be the case with popular new apps. While organic growth is possible, the apps will attract new users. Once organic growth slows, user acquisition drops while existing users look to greener pastures for their dopamine hit.
TL;DR When an application is in the stages where organic growth is ACTUALLY possible, it's an opportunity to convert new viewership over to your Twitch channel. It shouldn't be overlooked. We'll talk about how to convert those people and how to structure content on other platforms to convert to Twitch in a future article.
I have no way of telling how much time you have available, so I'll have to fill in percentages where possible, and hard minimums where necessary here.
- Relationships - 30% of your available time after the following are considered:
- Streaming - 15 hours per week minimum over 3-4 days a week
- Website - 5 hours per week to draft scripts for YouTube content
- Become a Subject Matter Expert on YouTube - 7 hours per week (1 hour per minute of video) for 1 video. Time efficient if you used the Website to draft your script. If you don't intend to, add 5 hours (total of 12 hours) for YouTube content.
- Podcast - 1 hour per week editing down audio from the YouTube video. If not, make it 3 hours to record and edit an episode.
- Current Event Research - 1-2 hours per week, can be accomplished at work, listening to the radio or focusing on the research
- TikTok - Whenever you have a free half hour to an hour. Variable time limit, but ALWAYS worth the time you put in. Just make sure you spend the bulk of that time creating and not consuming.
Total Time Allocation - 15+5+7+1+1 = 29 hours minimum, plus Variable TikTok and Relationships time.
Estimated 40 hours per week. Minimum.
If you've arrived at the point where you're asking "Is social media really worth my time?" Then this post had some use to you. I've laid out all of the most effective methodologies above for growing your stream presence in the gaming space here. Should give you a good idea of what a well-oiled baseline workflow looks like in the streamer space. We can delve into each of these specifics at a later date. Until then, cheers!