By Petar Vukobrat
November 20, 2018
Marketing your stream isn’t easy. You’re basically competing with hundreds or even thousands of people around the world doing the same thing — playing video games. Attracting viewers and gaining attention is hard regardless of your approach, but there are certain things you can do to make the whole process a little easier.
Before we delve deeper into the matter, let’s go over a couple of hard facts. For years now, there’s been an irritating aura built around streaming culture. It’s a fantastic thing no matter how you spin it but streaming itself doesn’t require much, at least not on the most basic level.
Anyone with a decent computer and internet connection can fire up OBS Studio or xSplit Gamecaster and start their streaming career. It’s accessible, and that’s a part of its allure.
When you embark on your streaming journey, you may find marketing to be a new challenge. You’re just a random dude or dudette, looking into a webcam and playing a video game. You’re a needle in a stack of needles, and people will judge the quality of your stream from the thumbnail alone.
In the age of short attention spans and content oversaturation, getting someone to pay attention can be a daunting task. Make one slip, and viewers are off to the next thing. At least losing viewers means you have something to lose. Most people stream for months without gaining any traction.
As with other fields of work, you don’t have to be the first one to do something. You just have to do things a little better than the ones who came before. Moreover, succeeding as a streamer often hinges on sheer luck, but there are some concrete steps you can take to improve your chance of success.
Those steps revolve around marketing your stream and gaining traction online. While it might not be easy, it’s paramount if you want to succeed as a streamer. Also, there’s not really a set path. What works for someone else might not work for you, and vice versa. Everyone’s journey is unique, and blindly following in someone else’s footsteps probably won’t get you to the same level of success.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try everything you can — cliché or not. In a way, there are no bad moves. Just be respectful and entertaining, and above all be yourself. That’s the most important part because sooner or later a marketing strategy will work and you’ll end up with more viewers than you ever anticipated. That’s where your personal touch comes in.
Without any further ado, let’s focus on a few things that could help in marketing your stream.
Is there something special going on, a cause or a trend? Join the bandwagon! Consistent streaming is a must, but if there’s a special occasion, then more people will be spectating the game you’re playing. Perhaps it’s a new champion, patch, or expansion. Got some fresh DLC? Thousands of people are browsing through Twitch hoping to see some gameplay, and you could be the one that streams it.
You have to think as a viewer as well, not just as a content creator. What would you want to see from a stream? What would break the mold? What would grab your attention? Putting yourself in the shoes of your viewers will allow you to create the content they might want, and that’s incredibly important, especially when you’re competing with hundreds of streamers on any given day.
You don’t have to be the only one doing it but being along for the ride will certainly help with marketing your stream and your online presence.
When these events occur, you’ll have a higher chance of getting noticed, so be prepared.
I know what you’re thinking — “not this cliché again.” Clichés work because they get the job done. That doesn’t mean you have to blindly follow suit but trying things out won’t hurt you, just your wallet.
You need to remember that you’re not doing giveaways to give stuff away. You’re trying to raise your profile to gain viewers. You want to attract viewers through any means necessary and then keep them entertained. If you offer good entertainment value, people will stick around.
Repeat for a couple of times, and sooner or later you could have a small following. Now, you shouldn’t invest a ton of money trying to attract people, but smaller giveaways and gifts could help you out in the long run.
Also, doing small giveaways to the people who already follow you is a nice way to say thanks.
This one might seem a bit strange, but it’s actually indirect marketing. People want to be a part of a community. That’s just human nature. If you’re insanely entertaining people will watch regardless, but if you communicate with your audience, then you’re entering another league entirely.
When new viewers stop by your stream and see that they’ve entered a small, intimate community, they’ll want to be a part of that as well.
I had a short stint as a content creator some time ago. I found a niche that wasn’t well represented and I had a ton of knowledge regarding a specific video game and its competitive scene. Since I’m fond of video work and editing, creating videos seemed like a logical step even though, in hindsight, putting my face online probably wasn’t the greatest idea in the world.
Before long, it was clear that people liked my work. No comment went unchecked, and I made sure to thank everyone who chimed in on the topics I covered. To them, I was a guy like any other, and that made my content accessible. My videos always sparked a conversation and tapped the market of people wanted to have a discussion — they just didn’t have anyone to talk to about certain things.
I didn’t interact with my viewers because I didn’t have anything better to do. I did it because I love chatting, and if they invested fifteen minutes of their lives to watch a video I made and if they took the additional time to comment, the least I could do was respond back. That’s just basic decency.
People started to notice. It’s rare to find someone responding to hundreds of comments, especially when they make it big. Those who watch your content will feel special when they get a message back. They will feel like they’re part of something, like they’re an active member of a small community rather than a passive bystander.
Think of it like laying a solid foundation. The better you do it, the easier things will be further down the road, and word of mouth (especially online) travels fast.
You want viewers, and it doesn’t really matter where you find them. Sharing your work on as many platforms as possible (Reddit especially) is a great strategy, but you should only do so when you have a well-established streaming schedule and some content to present.
You do not want to attract viewers to your stream only for them to be greeted with some pretty basic imagery and information. Go all-out with your presentation because that’s the first thing someone sees, and many people judge a book by its cover. Having a cool logo or banner will help out as well and having that unified visual identity will make your work more recognizable.
Creating shorter clips and highlights from your stream is another great way to introduce people to your content faster. If someone sees a good montage of your content, they’re probably going to drop in when you start streaming. You want to spark interest and getting your content on as many platforms as possible is incredibly important.
Keep in mind that people use different platforms. A couple people begged me to create a Twitter account and post links to my content because they didn’t have a Google+/YouTube account. How that’s possible in 2018 is beyond me, but I did what I had to to spread my content.
In other words, potential viewers don’t always come from expected places. You can create a name for yourself on one platform and then bring your fan base over to another.
Creating content is a great approach to help you build a fanbase. Decide what game you’re going to focus on and research its community. Let’s say you’re going to be streaming Overwatch. This one game has a ton of content to work with: patch notes, hero overviews, video tips and tutorials, Blizzcon coverage, written content, high-level gameplay, educational content, and so on. The list is only limited by your creativity.
You’re essentially finding ways to market yourself and your content. You could be doing the same thing as the next guy, but if your content is more accessible and engaging, then you’re going to succeed regardless of the competition.
In other words, you’re trying to introduce people to your stream and content by any means necessary.
Sometimes creating unique content is more than enough when it comes to marketing your stream and content in general. Don’t do what everyone else is doing — be distinctive. You can offer deep insights, analysis, and “outside of the box” thinking on a topic. You can play differently, behave differently (within the boundaries of good taste, of course), and offer a different kind of entertainment. Your content can spark discussions or controversy. Being unique in that aspect should be one of your top priorities.
If you’re not offering something different, there really isn’t anything that’s going to elevate your stream from the masses regardless of how well you market yourself.
You should always be yourself and focus on what makes you different from the next person. Don’t try to be something you’re not. Maintaining a persona over longer periods of time is going to be impossible.
Marketing your stream is a tough, but if you want to become a household name, you’ll have to experiment. People want originality; they want to be swept off their feet. Even those who’ve been watching a single streamer for months are willing to give others a try.
In the end, you really don’t have to be one in a million to succeed. You don’t have to be 100% original — far from it. The only thing you absolutely shouldn’t be is boring. Don’t be cliché, don’t follow in everyone else’s footsteps, and the recognition will come in due time.