Often when we streamers first start broadcasting, it’s tough to know where to broadcast, what to do, and what’s actually going on. Community engagement, especially with a limited viewer base, will often be slow at first and may even depend on your platform. Below is a brief guide for navigating these issues, which when addressed will foster a strong viewer base.
Choosing Your Platform
Sometimes different games will have better communities on one platform over others, so be sure to keep an eye on this. Take note of the average number of streamers playing your game per day, as well as average viewer counts for your game. Additionally, remind yourself of the communities you’re active in – that is, which streams you watch, which forums do you post in, etc. This will help you determine which platform may have the best growth potential for you.
On the other hand, if you see a gap in content on a specific platform, you can take advantage of it and fill it. Make your stream a go-to for discussion on game updates, or become an expert on certain strategies or other aspects of the game.
But even if there are only tens of people, as opposed to hundreds or thousands, streaming your game, you will still have competition. In other words, to successfully compete for and retain viewers, you still need to develop your niche and make your stream unique. To do this, you should be actively developing your own opinions on the game and expanding your knowledge base. It’s okay to agree with the majority opinion in the community, but be sure you can justify it, and also try framing your take in a different way. That said, you shouldn’t be afraid to differentiate yourself from the pack, as your uniqueness will likely attract new viewers who think the same as you do or who just want to hear an opposing argument.
Driving Community Engagement
If your game does not require a lot of focus, or if your on-stream persona prioritizes community engagement over, say, informing your audience, be sure to keep an eye on chat. To drive more engagement in the future, you should interact and involve chat whenever possible.
Be welcoming! Often you will find “lurkers” – viewers who aren’t necessarily active in chat. They could be shy, or unsure of what to say, so your initiating interactions will probably help. Start discussions by asking questions: do they agree with your opinion? What do they think of the latest meta changes? Or, get them involved in decision-making in-game, such as what character or champion you should play, or what to do next.
Don’t be afraid to invite viewers into games to make them feel more involved in your stream and to provide incentives for them to return to your stream over and over. Who knows, maybe you’ll even make new friends or find other streams to collaborate with! But because you’re interacting over the internet, there will always be a little risk involved in that you don’t know what your guest might say or do. Or maybe there’s a big gap in your skill levels. So before you invite just anyone into your game and onto your stream, here are some basic considerations:
- What game are you playing? What kind of missions do you want to run?
- Have you interacted with this viewer before? Is he/she a regular?
- Will you prioritize viewers who are subscribed or have donated? Understand that this is a form of “pay-to-play,” often considered a gray area. Are you comfortable with that? Or will you randomly choose from chat (i.e. via a chat bot or a program like Lachhh Tools)?
- Develop a streamlined process for adding viewers into a game and/or voice chat, and be ready to end the call and exit the game if your guest starts acting inappropriately.
- Are you planning on making viewer games a recurring part of your stream? If so, schedule time for this in advance, and make your audience aware of it. One of the post common practices is to just pick one day out of the week to play a set number of games with viewers. You ability to do this often depends on the game.
You can also do giveaways for in-game items or currency and merch! Tailoring these giveaways to your community, such as reaching a certain follower or subscriber count, will make them even more special and also encourage viewer retention. Given the costs involved, this can be tough to do regularly. It might require grinding the game for hours and hours in order to get rewards. Becoming partnered with a game will give you more chances to do giveaways for free, but games often have a high viewership and follower threshold for qualifying for such partner programs, before even applying. That said, they are valuable programs, so becoming a partner is a good goal for your stream.
For giveaways, you must also consider whether you’re enabling participation of any viewers/followers, or just subscribers. If the latter is the case, you must be extremely careful, as this violates gambling laws in some states by unevenly increasing the chances of winning. This can result in suspension or even a ban.
Remember to advertise your giveaways and viewer games on your socials to keep people in the loop and remind them of opportunities to interact with you. Pro Tip: Try timing your giveaways around key pieces of content you’re proud of or around new patches or game releases. This will help drive even further engagement when there may already be natural spikes in viewership.
Raid and host other streamers! This is a great way to show your support for other streamers, gain exposure, and share communities. If you receive a raid, be sure to give a shout out to your fellow streamer, and have a short intro or elevator pitch prepared to introduce yourself to the new viewers and potential followers.
Lastly, thank your community! Show your appreciation, even if it’s just for subscribers, raiders/hosts, or one line at the end of each stream. If viewers do not feel appreciated or involved, they will be less likely to return. Be genuine.
For more tips on building your streaming persona and a healthy community, check out our post on Finding Your Niche.