Friday, March 6, 2020

Hyper-Specialize Your Channel

Why do some streamers grow faster than others? What makes viewers want to watch someone else's channel instead of yours? There are many factors which affect these outcomes, but one of the most important is how intelligently the streamer's channel is branded. Many new streamers want to appeal to the largest possible audience out of the gate, and in doing so they ironically sabotage their chances of being seen by many people at all. Common sense makes you want to cast a wide net with your streams, but the key to strategically branding a Twitch channel is actually the opposite. In this entry, I'm going to show you how to hyper-specialize your channel.

Let me ask you a question: How did you find The Twitch Playbook? Without hearing your response, I think it's a safe bet that 9 out of every 10 of you found it because you were looking for some way to improve your Twitch channels. Then you stumbled on the podcast, found the blog, or got a recommendation by a friend. In other words, most of you found it because you were looking for a very specific answer to a very specific question. But with almost no changes to the content, on branding alone, this podcast could have been very different, and you may never have found it.

I'll demonstrate how hyper-specializing your brand can help you to grow your Twitch channel, by taking you back through my process of creating The Twitch Playbook itself. As you follow this account, pay attention to the moments where the choices I made defined not only the scope, but the overall effectiveness of this resource. When you think about the alternatives, consider whether you would have found this content as easily (or found it at all) if I hadn't chosen the path I'm on now.


Zero in.
When I was starting The Twitch Playbook I was faced with a fundamental issue: how wide should I cast my net? I had all my notes written down, but if you think back to the past entries, they don't have to apply only to Twitch. Most of the entries are really about being a video creator: explaining how to frame a camera shot, how best to show a game on screen, and how to select what kinds of shows you want to make. Most of the time I don't even talk about Twitch specifically, or even about video games- it could really apply to any type of video you'd want to make, not only on other livestream platforms like Mixer, YouTube Live or Facebook Live, but also non-live platforms like posting  YouTube videos or Instagram clips. And it doesn't stop there either. If I was willing to go even broader with my classification, the podcast isn't really only about video creation, but content creation in general: subjects like how to stay consistent, motivated, disciplined and sustainable are all major overarching themes. If I had changed a few Twitch-specific terms to more general phrases, 80% of these entries could just as easily help someone stay on track as they manage a blog, write a book, record an album, or follow just about any passion that involves creating media for public consumption. And as you may imagine, there are millions more people out there trying to create content in general, than just the ones trying to create content on Twitch. That means a massively larger potential audience.

So why didn't I follow that path and call it 'The Content Creation Playbook' instead of The Twitch Playbook?


There's an issue with appealing to more people, and it's a pretty simple one. Shooting for a larger potential audience means you also have more competition, and will therefore be less visible. And the more competition you have, the closer your content gets to looking like a needle in a haystack. Therefore, despite the fact that I've done a lot on Facebook Live, Instagram, and both the live and non-live sides of YouTube in my past, I decided I would focus only on Twitch, the thing I was most interested in building in my own life. This meant that I was able to get much more personal with the stories I've told so far and go more in-depth about the challenges I've faced.

Don't get distracted by the vastness of it all.
Aside from the fact that I knew I'd be happier writing about Twitch rather than acting as a jack-of-all-trades, it acted as a lighthouse for others in need of help with their own content. When I was starting out and looking for help with my channel, I didn't search for things that could help with content creation, I looked specifically for things that could give advice on Twitch streaming. To my surprise, there weren't that many to be found. Then, when I started this project, I knew that others in need of help would be looking for the same thing. Many of you who listen to this podcast may never have found it, even if the content inside was exactly the same, if it didn't have Twitch in the name. The fact that the branding takes a stand about one specific thing it can help with, rather than saying it'll get to everyone's media platforms in time, means that the people who need this content most will be able to find it. It's hyper-targeted in order to reach the people who are most likely to enjoy it, and most likely to need it. By not focusing on general content creation I shrunk my potential audience by a huge percentage, but by focusing only on Twitch I also massively shrunk my competition. Because now I was only one of a handful of resources specifically focusing on Twitch, rather than one of hundreds about video creation or thousands about content creation in general.


In previous entries like If You Can't Describe Your Channel, Who Can? and Your Channel is Not a One-Stop Shop, I've spoken before about the value of branding your streams. But hopefully by seeing how I created a piece of content you're already familiar with will help you to understand how just how important this mindset can be. You won't be alienating everyone outside of your branding's scope (for example, despite being a Twitch resource, I've met many aspiring YouTubers who love these entries) but in hyper-specializing you will be making sure that the people most likely to enjoy your content will be able to actually see it. On the internet, there is infinite space in which to create content but limited attention from those who can actually consume it. If you want to stand out from the crowd, don't do it by being what a massive audience might want. Instead, become exactly what a small portion of people truly need.

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