Friday, November 27, 2020

Expanding Your Twitch Brand

If you've been streaming for a while now, you might be looking for ways to expand your reach outside of Twitch. Or maybe you've already created branded social pages, but have had a hard time getting any response to your posts. While actually making your streams should always be priority one, I'm certainly an advocate of branching out when it's safe to do so. By posting on Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, or any other platform in support of your streams, you can explore interesting new avenues of content creation which might not be possible on Twitch. But it's important to realize a few things: the added responsibility of creating a new page like this, figuring out what kind of content you want to make, and probably most importantly, figuring out why you want to make it. 

As I say before every entry of this sort, especially if you just started with The Twitch Playbook and skipped to this one first: becoming consistent and skilled at actually streaming is always more important than building your brand. If you can't do ten streams without missing a single scheduled show (or if you haven't done ten streams yet in general), see the entry Surviving Your First Ten Streams before attempting anything I lay out here. Trying to expand too soon can kill your channel before it even begins.


So what do I mean when I say 'social media channels'? These are any pages on other platforms that you create as part of your Twitch brand, and only feature content meant to further your Twitch persona. What I'm not talking about when I mention 'social media channels' are personal Facebook, Instagram or Twitter pages that your all your friends and family are connected to, which feature your first and last name. Those are not branded social media channels, they're personal profiles. You can post things to them if you want, but they're not what we're discussing in this entry. 

Don't bite off more than you can chew.

Before starting any social media undertaking, make sure you don't bite off more than you can chew. It's better to begin with small, achievable milestones than massive plans that you abandon after a few days. It's essentially the same as starting a Twitch channel in that respect- you need to build enough discipline that you'll keep posting on schedule, every single time, whether or not you're in the mood to do so. If you already have several social media channels for your brand, consider cutting back and focusing on a single one. You can find more information about how to do this effectively in the growth check-in entry called Simplify Your Streams.


Here's the most popular post made by Twitch streamers on Instagram: a photograph of their PC setup with OBS open, with a caption saying, "I'm going live now!" and a link to their channel below it. Many accounts, if you look at their Instagram profiles, are just rows and rows of nearly identical photos like this, because they post this exact same thing every time they do a show. I personally think this is a wildly ineffective strategy for two reasons: it brings no value, and it misunderstands how content gets displayed in the first place. 

If you've made that exact post before, consider the following: who benefits from that content? Imagine if someone was following your Instagram account, and they were pelted every single day with the same picture of your computer. It's not interesting to look at, and it doesn't say anything interesting in itself. On the contrary in fact- it's asking them to do something that benefits you. You're essentially posting an advertisement and asking people to engage with it. But why should they? Yes, your stream might be interesting, but these people on Instagram aren't seeing your stream, they're seeing the picture of your computer. The only engagement you're likely to gain by such attempts are from bot accounts trying to sell you something of their own. 

If you don't enjoy making the posts, and nobody
sees them, then who wins?

And most ironically, even if people were interested enough to check out your channel based on a post like this, they likely wouldn't even be shown the content. Social media algorithms work by sending your content to small percentages of your audience, and after those people engage with the post (if they engage with it), it'll be sent to another small percentage. This means that a post which provides little to no value to the recipient isn't likely to get past that first small percentage. And if it does, that chain of algorithmic distribution might take so long that people only see it after your show is over. Letting people know you're live might be useful if you have 50,000 Instagram followers who are all interested to know such information, but it's not a good way to grow when you're small. 


This value-add philosophy doesn't only apply to Instagram of course. No matter what platform you use, you should try to create something that benefits the audience rather than blatantly playing to your own self-interests. Whether it's a beautiful image, a funny video, or an interesting thought, convey it in a way that you would find worth sharing if it weren't your post. 

Even if you never post links to your streams, or even mention you're a Twitch streamer at all, people who enjoy your content enough will eventually look at your profile page and follow the embedded link to your channel. And going further than that, even if they didn't follow your Twitch channel, there's nothing wrong with simply building an Instagram, YouTube, or TikTok that has a following of its own. You might find that there are things about those platforms that unlock different creative outlets than your Twitch channel provides. 

Similar to my philosophy about Twitch streaming, I think it's best to post whatever brings you the most creative fulfillment. Do you like making funny clips of your shows, taking artful in-game screenshots, or sharing theories about lore? Then focus on that. Don't worry about trying to herd people into your streams. Just like chasing followers on Twitch, making content that you think will get results rather than what you actually want to make, will only produce burnout. When expanding your Twitch brand, first find what you truly enjoy creating. The rest will fall into place.

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