How to market on Twitch: all-in-one guide
In this article, we’ll cover many major points a marketer should consider when dealing with Twitch. Namely, what the platform is, the average user portrait, and how you can leverage the platform’s potential for marketing campaigns.
For today’s marketer, standing out and keeping up with the swift current of the digital age is no easy task. New social media channels spring to life and steal the stage regularly, while the appeal of well-established “old guard” slowly dissolves as they’re often forced to play catch-up. Twitch is among these disruptive newcomers.
Basics of Twitch
As of today, Twitch is the world’s largest online streaming platform owned by Amazon. While its main focus remains fixated on videogames and esports broadcasts, the diversity of streams has been steadily growing in recent years.
Nowadays, you can find a broadcast of any format, dealing with just about anything: talk shows/podcasts, mental health streams, music production, lifestyle content, and much more.
The main page is designed to get you watching quickly. For that purpose, Twitch offers diverse and effective means of search:
- Overall categories/specific game directories.
- Stream tags — essentially a quick stream description (i.e. language used, affiliation with esports organizations, game mode played, etc.).
- Channel recommendations on the left side panel, as well as on the main page.
Streaming platforms are still something of a novelty in the realm of marketing, so here’s a small breakdown of a stream’s components that should help ease your experience with Twitch:
Here, we’ve numbered all the major areas you should pay attention to whenever you’re watching a Twitch stream:
- The stream window — this is the actual screen, where the action is taking place.
- The chat — arguably the second most important part of any broadcast. This is where audience interaction takes place, not just with the streamer, but between the community members too.
- “About channel” field — this is where you’d find a channel’s description: list of perks a user gets by subscribing to the channel, list of equipment they use for streaming, their sponsorships, links to other social media accounts, business email, etc.
- Stream’s title — a short description of what’s currently going on the channel. Much like the “OPEN” sign on a store’s window, its purpose is to attract viewers. Note that streamers often change titles throughout one broadcast to better reflect what is going on.
- The category/directory a broadcast is currently in. Like the title, it can be changed at any time.
- A streamer’s affiliation — this indicates what organization/website the stream runs under. For videogame streams, these are often esports organizations.
- Stream tags — provide short descriptions to better reflect the channel’s current policies and ease the search. For example, every stream will have a tag to indicate what language is used on the channel.
- Follow and Subscribe buttons — following a channel is free, and this action pins it to the left panel for easy future access. Subscription is paid and gives access to channel perks (custom emotes to use across the platform, in some cases — the ability to use the chat at all, and many more). Aside from that, it is a common practice for a streamer to personally welcome and thank their new subscribers live.
- Current viewers counter. Plain and simple.
- The amount of time a stream has been online for.
Why use Twitch as a marketing platform?
Getting a grip on the basics of Twitch is one thing, but recognizing its marketing potential is an entirely different beast. Here’s some statistical data to help you tackle the question of whether Twitch is a platform for you.
According to Twitchtracker, the platform has averaged 3 million concurrent daily viewers since the start of 2021. These people have collectively poured more than 8 million and 419 thousand hours into watching broadcasts on about 120 thousand concurrent channels — all of that in just about 4 months (January to April) of 2021. Given these numbers, it’s not at all surprising that Microsoft’s alternative, Mixer, couldn’t steal the crown.
Demographics-wise, analysis of Twitch mentions in Awario suggests that a whopping 97,2% of all mentions on social media come from people aged between 18 and 44 years old, with the biggest share of that number being in the 18-34 years old bracket. Outside of age, we can see that while mentions mostly come from males, growing female presence on the platform cannot be discarded:
If we take a look at streamers themselves from a purely marketing perspective, they aren’t really different from influencers you’d find on Instagram or Twitter, barring their respective content strategies of course. And with hundreds of thousands of channels broadcasting to millions of viewers at any point in time, chances are you’d be able to find a Twitch influencer who is just right for your campaign.
It’s worth pointing out that while the Twitch crowd is best characterized as gamers, the appearances may be deceptive. In reality, the group of people we’d collectively classify as gamers is quite segmented with distinctively diversified interests. Remember the number of users the platform has? Chances are that your target audience is well-represented on Twitch, especially if it’s on the younger side.
In essence, Twitch has every chance to be a metaphorical marketing motherlode as long as your company targets younger generations. All you need to do to get started is choose the right tools from the wide arsenal available for the platform.
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How to leverage Twitch marketing potential
Given the younger audience, it is fair to say that traditional marketing methods aren’t likely to fly on Twitch. With that said, it is worth remembering that Twitch is still sort of a newer kid on the block, so brands should find plenty of room to breathe and experiment with the platform. Some brands are finding success there already, and so have pioneered a few starting points to get your image recognized, or start a campaign. Let’s jump into the specifics with a few real examples:
Twitch as an influencer marketing hub
Twitch influencers or streamers are very much like their counterparts from other platforms. The key difference is that they stream their content to a live audience instead of running pre-recorded material. Hours upon hours of mostly unfiltered live content build certain chemistry between streamers and viewers, which contributes to a very high content authenticity.
Another piece of good news for marketers is that Twitch regulars are mostly supportive of brand sponsorships. It is understood that sponsorships can benefit their favorite streamers by a long mile, bringing out even more entertainment for viewers.
High content authenticity and loyal viewership make Twitch streamers perfect influencer marketing assets. Naturally, there’re many ways a brand can use the power of affiliated streamers to forward marketing efforts. Let’s go over some Twitch influencer promotions you can go for:
- Brand graphics — the most simple promotion method out there. Sponsored streamers insert brand graphics on-screen while live and incorporate them in their own graphics running shortly before the broadcast starts and shortly after it ends.
Since the stream window is almost always the focal point, placing brand logos there is a good way to unobtrusively introduce the viewers to your brand.
The brand graphics can often be found in the “About” section below the stream player window as well. Unlike the stream window, brand graphics in the “About” section can be hyperlinked. This way, the viewers should have no trouble finding your website after learning about your company.
- Shoutouts — a short promo segment where the streamer will actively tell the viewers about your brand and encourage them to check it out.
It’s worth remembering that the streaming world blooms on the chemistry between streamers and viewers, so a personalized story about how the streamer has used your advertised product/service in their life can work wonders for you.
While shoutouts are, essentially, a one-size-fits-all in the world of Twitch influencer marketing, entertaining storytelling will mitigate their inherent shallowness. Research the streamers, and let them control how the shoutout goes. They know their audience much better.
- Giveaways — a small contest you can run alongside your sponsored streamer to allow their viewers to win something related to your brand.
This type of promotion is most suitable for companies with physical or subscription-based online products. Doing giveaways every now and again, coupling them with the streamer’s audience and posts on other social channels can be a good way to drive extra attention your way. Just don’t be stingy with prizes, there won’t be too many going around anyway if you do this right.
- Unboxing — an activity where the streamer demonstrates unpacking of goods live.
It might sound simple, but unboxing streams and videos garner a surprising amount of viewers and manage to hold their attention span very well. This sort of demonstration is another way to unobtrusively introduce the streamer’s viewership to your brand, and it can be paired with a simultaneous shoutout for an even greater effect.
Obviously, this kind of promotion is relevant for brands with physical goods only.
- Chat commands — chat commands are a way for streamers to automate some of the more mundane tasks, like answering popular questions or providing instructions on the current giveaways for example.
These commands are mostly advertised at the tail end of a stream’s title, like so:
You can work alongside your affiliated streamer to set up chat commands that would serve sponsored content — links, discount codes, or anything else you believe to be worth it.
Once you’ve settled on the means, it is time to start looking for people who’d take on the job. For that purpose, Twitch has a so-called Bounty Board program set up. This is where a brand would post their requirements on promotional content and Twitch streamers would accept to deliver the content required.
This system allows Twitch to act as the intermediary between you and the streamer, while the bounty acts as a three-way contract. Since the Bounty Board program is available only for select affiliated or partnered streamers, you can rest easy knowing that your brand image is in safe hands. With that said, Bounty Board is fairly limited so you might have to look for the right streamer on your own.
Much like YouTube, Twitch runs video ads on currently live channels. Earlier, we’ve mentioned that traditional advertising technologies normally don’t have too great of a run on Twitch. However, tried and trusted methods might just work as long as you remember that people visit Twitch for entertainment.
So, as long as the entertainment value of your ad matches (or even outweighs) its “sales pitchiness”, it has a great chance to resonate with viewers even if they didn’t feel too good about a forced ad break.
Speaking of timing, it’s worth noting that streamers exert some control over how ad videos are integrated into their stream. Namely, they can choose to regulate the ad break times themselves to disable automatic pre-rolling ads and control the flow of their broadcast better. Nevertheless, all non-subscribers will encounter the ads occasionally, meaning there could be a lot of potential for marketers to explore.
Given Twitch’s roots, it’s only natural that PC hardware and videogame companies have an extensive presence on the platform — Twitch viewership numbers are a great way to gauge games’ performance and gather valuable feedback, and videogame streams are the ripest soil to advertise computer hardware.
Your organization does not have to be related to the video game industry to find value in the platform anymore, as Twitch’s content focus keeps expanding.
Nowadays, you can easily find a plethora of establishments with their own Twitch account — commercial brands, educational facilities, and non-profit organizations alike.
Among the brands actively using the platform are the likes of RedBull. The Austrian energy drink giant partners with many streamers, including the Twitch superstar Ninja, to promote their products on their broadcasts and do a whole bunch of influencer marketing activities.
Aside from that, Red Bull regularly hosts their own esports events garnering thousands of viewers.
While you can argue that energy drinks and gamers have somewhat of a spiritual connection, Red Bull is not a videogame company per se and yet Twitch’s part in their marketing strategy cannot be ignored.
Then there are educational facilities like California State University. According to their channel description, they use Twitch as a professional networking environment for students, faculty, administrative staff, and CSU’s partners. Ultimately, they embrace esports and do their utmost to advance and demystify the industry.
As a company, you can try to roll into the streaming world yourself to see how it pans out. Like on television, many content formats work quite well on live broadcasts, so here’re some ideas of what you can do with your stream:
- Digital events
Much like traditional television, digital events of various nature and caliber are surprisingly well received by the younger Twitch audience. You can try doing a roundtable stream, host a talk show, or even migrate your existing podcast to Twitch and stream the whole thing! This is also a great way to promote your other social media channels.
- Workshops and how-tos
As we’ve noted many times, Twitch’s content variety has long expanded beyond video games. And since the Twitch crowd is quite diverse, educational content is embraced quite well, as long as it is spiced up with some entertainment value. For example, AWS does workshops on Twitch from time to time, so perhaps you could too.
- Use games as a means of promotion
If nothing else, you can try and turn to the roots of the platform. Brands like Wendy’s routinely stream a variety of games and tournaments on their channel to maintain their brand recognition among the younger generation. Also, they have a habit of offering small bonuses on their streams! Other brands, like KFC, adopt this strategy as well.
At the end of the day, we definitely can’t say that Twitch bears too much resemblance to more conventional social media channels, like Twitter. However, being different doesn’t mean being non-viable altogether. It is still relatively new, so marketers have plenty of ground to explore.
There is every chance that your brand’s marketing efforts can thrive there, as Twitch regulars are a very diverse crowd with many fields of interest. Just make sure to put some time into researching the right streamer, tools, or content formats for your own venture into the online broadcasting world.