Chapter 7: Build a Community
Every successful streamer builds their community, and that takes time. You can’t expect to raise an army in a day! And as a streamer, you will need your community to be organized. The viewers, mods, and other streamers will have questions to ask, suggestions to make, and lots of things to say. To build a community, you will need to know many things, from chat organization, moderation, bots, and more. Let’s dive in and take a look at where you should begin with your streaming platform.
PogChamp! Let’s go! One of the very first things you want to do to lay down the foundation for your stream is to engage your chat. While you’re streaming, you want to be paying attention to your viewers and your chat.
Put yourself in someone else’s shoes! A lot of people who watch Twitch streams are invested in the content itself. People who play certain types of games watch streamers who play those games, so talk about the game with them! Ask frequent questions to your viewers.
Let them know that you care about the content and the people watching it.
Think about what your viewers want to know and what type of personality you want to portray on your stream. You want to create a community that is welcoming to newcomers. You want to appeal to your viewers in such a way that they feel as if they are part of a group.
Tip: Let your viewers know that you care about your channel by putting up links to your social media, such as your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr. Social media is a great way to connect with your viewers and vice versa. Your viewers can help you grow your channel by sharing your streams with their friends, which will help you gain followers.
Engaging your chat is the foundation for your stream, and it will help you grow your channel, but that’s not all you need to start building a community.
Chatbots are a great way to help you interact with your viewers. They have a variety of uses and can be customized to fit your needs. Some of the most common benefits for them include:
- Moderating chat
- Answering general FAQs
- Providing links to your other social media pages
- Providing links to your stream donation pages
There are plenty of different chatbots to choose from, but Twitch has its chatbot that is free for streamers to use. If Twitch’s bot doesn’t cut it for you, Streamlabs has some nifty ones.
2. Be Inventive and Talk 1:1
It’s great to ask your viewers questions about their day, but it’s wise to ask them things that will fully engage them.
Things like “what’s the craziest thing you’ve done?” or “what was the last thing you ate?” are great because they let people engage with the content while also being able to talk about themselves. This is great! People love talking about themselves!
Stirring up debate is another fun practice for new streamers who want their chat to start piping up.
Tip: Use your viewer’s names! There is something about direct communication that we lack online over text, and speaking names out loud somehow connects us differently. It makes it feel more personal and genuine when you talk to your viewers and address them by their screen name.
The point is, you want to build a relationship with your viewers. The better you get to know them, the more you’ll get to know what they like and what they don’t like. What would they like to see more of? You’ll know by asking! The best way to build a relationship with your viewers is to interact with them and treat them like friends.
The 1:1 tactic works! You can see this is frequently used by streamers who acknowledge donations, subscriptions, follows, etc. Talking to someone 1:1 and addressing them is critical for getting them to stick around, especially in the early stages of your community building.
Tip: Play music. It’s a mistake to have your stream silent when you’re not talking. If you’re not playing a game with active audio, you should have music playing in the background. Why? Because music makes a difference when it comes to engaging your audience! Music boosts the mood and the overall quality of your stream. Plus, it fills any silence on your stream that might lead to your viewers becoming bored.
3. Unique Works
If you’re a Twitch streamer, you’ve likely watched Twitch streams. Do you have a favorite? What is it that makes that particular stream work? Some streamers are funny, some streamers are professionally good at the game they are playing, and some streamers are just very attractive!
Finding your niche is important, but so is developing the framework for your stream community. You can cultivate your audience’s interests by customizing your Twitch stream’s overlay, buttons, and emotes.
Furthermore, do the same with your Discord channel. Make it personal and unique to you, but don’t be afraid to mimic some of the similar tactics that popular streamers have.
4. Build a Schedule
One of the most important things you can do is to make a schedule for your stream. Your followers will know when they can expect to find you online. It will also give you a sense of structure and balance for your streams, which will help you focus on the task at hand.
As a rule of thumb, aim for 2-3 hours of streaming per day, with at least a one-hour break in between. You will be more productive, and your audience will be able to enjoy your content more.
Your mental health is essential, so don’t overdo it. If you’re not into streaming every day, that’s fine. Take a break from it! You don’t have to stream every day to be successful.
5. Have a Giveaway
The best way to grow your followers is to offer something in return for their support. Of course, you can provide a simple shoutout or maybe custom emotes, but a more effective way is to have a giveaway.
People love free stuff. They also love to compete! Plus, the anticipation may have them checking your stream more often to find out if they've won. You can give away free games or in-game items to attract new followers if you’re just starting. But if you have a decent following already, you can try to offer more valuable prizes.
Check out some of these giveaway ideas:
- Games. Newer and more popular games are great ways to get your viewers interested. Make sure the game you're thinking of giving away might appeal to your audience.
- Discord Perks. Have a discord channel? Offer special roles! It's a great way to get your audience to view your discord, too.
- T-shirts. It’s a simple idea, but it's also a great way to get your name out there.
- Consoles. If your channel is focused on the gaming community, consider offering a PlayStation, Xbox, or gaming PC.
- A trip. If you have enough followers, you can plan a trip to another country, including a meet and greet with your streamers.
6. Create Content
Don’t underestimate the power of social media content. Having more than just a stream will make you more widespread so that you can reach more people. Here are a few examples of content creation that you can do to boost your stream’s community.
- Discord. This one is first because it’s the most obvious. Create a discord and engage with your users there as often as you can. This will allow you to create relationships with your users, and your users will also be creating relationships with each other, making it more likely that they will return.
- YouTube. Uploading your streams is a great idea, but creating YouTube videos that people can only view there is an even better idea. Need some ideas? Create funny gag reels, compilations of hilarious moments on your stream, or reaction videos.
- Blogs. Ever had a blog? They aren’t as popular as they used to be, but having your blog can generate some attention, even while you’re offline. If your stream is an art stream, having a blog about your process is an excellent way to get viewers. Or, if you have a gaming stream, your blog can be about your personal life.
7. Network with Other Streamers
It may feel like you’re hanging out with the competition, but when you hang out with other streamers, you’re benefiting from it.
First, by hanging out with other streamers, you’re building relationships with those who already know their stuff. They can give you more inside tips on the world of streaming. They can also be your sounding board for any questions you have. It’s like a networking event without the tedious business talk.
Second, you're boosting your viewers. If you stream together, your viewers will likely check both streamers out! You’re double the audience and reach viewers that you might not have reached before.
It’s always more fun to play games with friends, and it’s no different when streaming. You can crank up your viewers by doing a game night with friends or family. This can be done over multiple channels or on a single stream channel. If you stream with friends, you’ll have a built-in audience. Plus, you’ll have a lot of fun together. You can't beat productivity mixed with fun moments.
8. Do More Behind the Scenes
For every hour you stream, try to be doing at least 30 minutes of behind-the-scenes work on your stream.
Sorry to say, but putting in hundreds of hours of streaming won't be enough. You’ll be needing to work at making your stream a success constantly. Though sometimes it may look like streamers become famous out of blind luck, but there is all of this work, plus more.
But what should you be doing? Working on everything from networking to upping your stream overlay. Constant research is vital to stay on top of the game, and you can’t skimp when you want to succeed.
9. Set Goals
Don't give up. It takes a lot of work to be a successful streamer, but if you don't give up and constantly work hard, you will eventually get there.
If you are constantly putting in work but don't see the progress you're looking for, ask yourself why. What are you missing? That would be a good time to stop and look around at other successful streamers and see what their stream has that yours lacks.
Take a moment to fill out some milestones and make sure they are healthy and realistic. How can you accomplish them? What resources do you need? Make sure the milestones are measurable and that you can quickly check in on your progress. Once you have that, you can develop an action plan to achieve them.
Here is an example of a realistic milestone chart. The fourth month was left empty. What would you do next?
I want to have:
This month, I will focus on: The design of my stream overlay.
I want to have:
This month, I will focus on: Developing my persona within my niche.
I want to have:
This month, I will focus on: Networking with other streamers.
I want to have:
Stream ______ days a week.
Building your community is not going to be a piece of cake. You’re going to need to develop a lot of your stream into higher quality content and branch out into other social media such as YouTube, Discord, and other platforms that would fit your niche. Studying success will boost your creative thinking as well as give you points of reference to refer to. You should constantly be thinking about improving your stream to keep your audience engaged and coming back for more. Remember to give your regular viewers extra love and treat your community more like a group of friends than a hierarchy you sit at the top of. Good luck!