Friday, October 23, 2020

Displaying Twitch Highlights in Collections

Throughout The Twitch Playbook, you've heard me talk a lot about different ways to create, organize and utilize your clips and highlights. I genuinely think that these two tools are some of the most powerful on the entire platform. They allow you to take the best moments from larger shows and spin them off into small videos of their own, without the use of any external editing software. And the number of possibilities this opens up for your brand is staggering. I've already covered many facets of clipping in the entries Using Twitch Clips to Their FullestClipping and Highlighting Your Streams, and Organizing Your Twitch Clips. In this entry we'll focus more specifically on highlights which, unlike clips, can be added to special playlists and displayed more prominently on your channel itself.  


As I've described in previous entries, clips and highlights ultimately have the same end goal: they both permanently preserve a section of your stream as a separate video. But on Twitch, there's a platform-level distinction between clips and highlights. You may have already noticed that the front page of your Twitch channel on mobile features a tab titled 'Clips.' But even though highlights serve essentially the same purpose, the 'Clips' tab does not feature your channel's highlights as well. The highlights live under the 'Videos' tab. You'll notice that they even fall under different managers inside your channel's dashboard- clips have their own 'Clips Manager' section, while highlights are managed from the general 'Video Producer' that you'd also use to handle past broadcasts and uploads. 

Show off!

You can see the distinction pretty clearly when looking at how a viewer is able to interact with your clips and highlights. There's no way to organize clips when looking at your channel, other than showing a list of recently captured, or most popular clips. Highlights however, are able to be arranged by the streamer into specific collections, complete with descriptions and even custom thumbnail images. It seems that the intention is for clips to be more short-lived, like viral videos showing up on a newsfeed. And highlights are there to be displayed for the long term, more akin to playlists on a YouTube channel. In short, clips are best for bringing new people to the channel, while highlights are best suited for keeping them entertained after they've arrived. 


To get the most out of your highlights, consider placing them into themed 'collections.' You can put any of your highlights or uploads into these playlists. This will make it easier for viewers to find some of your best content, as well as make your channel more attractive to look at. I have several collections on my own channel which feature my 'Voice of Nick Voices' - the custom characters I make up on stream. Viewers who enjoy these moments on the shows are able to go back through these collections at any time, which now feature over a thousand highlighted character appearances to choose from. There are also collections for funny moments that were too long to be saved as clips, as well as exciting moments like first-try Dark Souls boss wins. As I mentioned in previous entries, highlights can be as long as you choose- they can even preserve an entire broadcast from beginning to end. When I streamed from my vacation in Tokyo, I highlighted every one of the 19 broadcasts in its entirety and put those into their own collection. 

There's no limit to the amount of full episodes you can permanently save as highlights. Many variety streamers, especially those who play story-based games from beginning to end like I do, will save every stream in its entirety as a series of highlights, then save those highlights into collections so viewers can easily go back and see all the episodes in one place. Collections have a convenient 'Play All' button, so someone trying to catch up on everything that's happened so far can easily binge with a single click. 

Your highlights can be as long as you want. 
They can even be full streams!

Like with clips, it's important to make sure your highlights and collections look good to the outside observer. The default title for a highlight will be the exact title from that stream, but it's usually not best to leave this as the highlight's name, even if you're saving the broadcast in its entirety. Many aspects of the average stream title, like suggestions for commands, posing a question to chat, or telling viewers about a timed giveaway, will become irrelevant after the show is no longer live. It's best to think of your highlights like YouTube videos- make an eye-catching name that gets straight to the point. If you want to go even further, highlights have the added advantage of allowing you to choose one of three thumbnails from your video, or even uploading your own. You can really go all-out, if you're so inclined! 


In addition to organizing your highlights into collections, you can actually have some of those playlists featured among your channel's videos. By entering the 'Videos' tab while looking at your Twitch profile, you can click 'Customize Layout.' This allows you to show off some of your favorite collections for viewers to easily find while looking at your channel's other videos. Make sure these have interesting content, and give an extra bit of attention to the naming and look of the videos in these more outward-facing collections. 

Because you can set a custom thumbnail for any highlight you've saved, the collections you show in your Videos tab layout should definitely get this treatment. If you don't like the three auto-generated thumbnail choices Twitch gives you for these videos, and if you don't want to design your own thumbnails, then there's a nice workaround you can use instead. Simply watch the video in question in fullscreen, then grab a screenshot using your computer. If you're on Mac, screenshot tools are built into the operating system. If you're on Windows, you can use free software like ShareX to easily get what you need. Or worst case scenario, you can watch the video on your phone, screenshot what you want and then email the image to yourself. After this, you can simply upload the image you captured as the thumbnail for your highlight. You can then choose the best thumbnail from the entire collection to be the master thumbnail for the collection itself. All this is a great way to really up the presentation value to viewers looking at your channel, and it'll make it much easier for them to quickly find your best content. 

On top of that, whichever collection you choose to feature at the top will not only appear in your custom Videos tab layout, but will also show up on your channel's homepage! This only applies to one collection, so make sure whichever you place in that spot is your most important content- this is what almost everyone looking at your channel will see first. On my channel, I use a collection featuring my trailer and updates about new content I'm making. If you do nothing else with collections, I suggest you at least create and feature one set of highlights in this coveted spot. 


Of course, you don't have to only use highlights and collections in the ways I've suggested. You can get as creative with it as you want! You can feature clip compilations you've edited, highlights of the best (or worst) dad jokes you've done on stream, or even upload little status update vlogs to let viewers know what you're doing each day. When you use collections with your highlights, your channel will become much more personalized. So show your viewers what you've got! 

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