How to connect and engage with your community
For streamers, your community is how you grow and why you grow. In many ways, it is your community and not your playstyle that will define you. They are here for you, and your success is largely due to their love and support. While you establish the ground rules for your individual community, everyone who visits your channel plays a part in making it feel like home. As a creator, it is important to help your viewers build those bonds with you and with each other.
As you start to grow and have more followers, it is easy to get caught up in the game and to disregard the community, but that is how things fall apart. It is important to try and strike a balance between what you’re doing on stream and keeping tabs on chat.
So what does paying attention to chat mean in practice? In this case, paying attention to chat means literally prioritizing chat and giving energy back to the chat. Greet people. Celebrate them. Engage in their questions. Ask them questions back. Talk to them about their day or the ecosystem or the game. Just remember that chatting isn’t for everyone and that’s okay. If someone is just hanging out, or "lurking," don’t call them out. They may just like listening or they’re exploring your channel.
Let’s walk through some tips on how to connect and engage with your community.
Create chat rules
As a starting point, create chat rules for your channel. First time visitors will get an introduction to your community and understand what behavior is expected in your chat. Since visitors will need to agree to your rules first before chatting it helps set the tone.
Acknowledge everyone that comes in as best as you can.
Something is better than nothing. People love the sound of their name. People want attention. That is how we are wired. So let's give your community what they want. A little attention can make your viewer’s day.
Engage your viewers
During our interviews, we spoke with streamers who were stuck at 5-10 CCV for months. When we watched their streams, we noticed that many of them were playing the game and not engaging with chat. When asked why not — some said that they wanted to make room for chat to ask them questions or that they didn't know how to.
Not everything is about you. Yes, these folks came to watch you play, but they may stay or come back if we talk about them. People love talking about themselves. Let's give them that opportunity. To take this one step further, proactively prepare a few thought-provoking questions. At minimum, a simple how is your day will go a long way.
Start a debate
You can be a moderator or the spark, but the bulk of the engagement will be viewer to viewer. This is great because it lets you focus on your task and acts as an avenue for viewers to build relationships among themselves. The latter is a brilliant outcome. If successful, now people have yet another reason to visit your channel. Previously it was either your personality or your activity. Now it may be because they want to interact with that viewer again. That is a true community.
Simple questions can be to ask your chat what they think about a recent event in gaming, such as a conference or a AAA game release. Not sure what's happening? An easy source can be Reddit. Go to the Reddit subform for whatever activity you engage in (gaming, art, a specific game, coding, political debate, etc) and check out the top conversations there.
Write 5 topic ideas you can discuss on stream
Managing chat is going to be hard, especially as you grow. Even if you are just starting out, it is helpful to also get the angle of chat moderation. It is essential that we abide by platform guidelines so a chatbot can and should be leveraged to keep your chat clean.
Streamlabs offers a great chatbot that we highly recommend. It contains tools for chat moderation, viewer engagement, polls, timers and mini-gamers. As with all Streamlabs tools, everything is backed up to the cloud, so it is available for you 24/7.
Acknowledge the regulars
This is a simple point, but it is so important that it deserves its own section. The regulars are the backbone of your community and retaining your existing viewers is one of the most important things you can do. Your regular viewers not only form the pillars of your community but will likely contribute to the bulk of your revenue.
Give them individual love and attention. Ask them about their day. Greet them. If you missed them joining the chat, please take time during a game or a break to scan the conversation and recognize them. This makes them feel loved and rewards them for being there for you. This also shows to the rest of the community what kind of connection they may have if they were to support you continuously.
Our research shows that music does two things:
- Brightens the atmosphere and adds energy. Even if you are not talking and the chat is silent, music will add some value.
- Creates another interaction point between you and your community. People may want to learn what you are listening to.
Acknowledge when you receive donations, stars, follows, likes, subscribers, and all the other deliberate actions that your viewers may take to support you. Why is this important? Positive reinforcement of these actions leads to more of these actions from your community which is a good thing for you. In addition, giving 1:1 attention and recognition to the person who supported you in the moment is the minimum you can do to reciprocate. This person took a deliberate act to help you. Make them feel special. Make it seem like it is just you and them in chat.
Be grateful! Some folks may lose track of this practice of thanking and acknowledging direct support amidst a heated game or an influx of support. Putting our empathy hat on, let's imagine how it feels to take that 1:1 direct supportive action and get nothing back. How does it feel for your attention or $ to go into a black ether? Yes, there is an alert on the screen, but as a viewer, you want recognition from the streamer. There will always be reasons for why we can't acknowledge 100% of our viewer's support. After all, we are human. However, we can still make a thoughtful and deliberate effort to try.
Set-up events for your viewers
An example of an event is a giveaway. Another example is a poll or a scrim with viewers where you let your viewers have a say in what you play or how you play it (ex. pistols only). Setting up an event lets the viewers actively participate in the stream. Make sure to follow through on the commitment you made to the viewers. If you promised pistols only, deliver on that.
Events reward viewers. This can be an intrinsic reward where they feel recognized or material reward such as a giveaway. These events also make some viewers feel special. Everyone wants to be recognized and taken seriously, especially within their community. Within your community, you have a chance to elevate some of the community members. You put them in the spotlight, and this means the world to them.
Lean into reciprocity
When you are done streaming, raid another streamer. Your viewers have continuity. The other streamer, who, like you, is working hard to build a community, gets an influx of energy. And maybe in the future, they will reciprocate and raid you as well. More on this in the chapter on collaboration and networking with other steamers, but we do want to plant this seed now.
Share. Give back. Give back to your viewers and other streamers. We advocate a high empathy and high warmth mentality. The mentality that this is zero-sum, meaning your loss is another streamer's gain is negative. Let's think about this in terms of building a greater live streaming community and helping each other along the way.
Spend 30 minutes a week looking at folks you admire or respect. If you don't have a strong point of view on "who is doing it well," check out whoever has the most viewers right now. To be clear, we are not saying that there is a recipe. We've been through this. There is only positive energy, hard work and discipline. What we are saying is that there is something to be learned from those who are consistently at the top. Watch their stream. What are they doing? Are there patterns?
We suggest you look at the folks that are a few hundred CCV above you in your category, the top folks in your category, and the top folks overall. Add this to your growth plan and do a thoughtful, deliberate study of how they are running their stream. Take notes. Write down what you think is a good idea. Then take action. Experiment. Perhaps it works for you? If not, that's okay too. You tried, and you learned something.
As you study these streamers, consider these questions and try to form an answer:
- How does this streamer interact with chat? Are they doing something you are not?
- What are their stream titles and tags?
- What does their About Me section say? What panels do they have?
- What software are they using? Are they using any tools that you are not that might be helpful to you?
- How do they start the stream?
- How do they end the stream?
- What kinds of events/programs do they run, if any?