Twitch: The Best Social Platform You're Not Using
Recently, I wrote about how influencers can leverage Twitter to build new audiences and drive traffic to their preferred platforms, like your Instagram or blog. It’s a pretty safe guess that most of our Obviously influencers have a Twitter account, even if it’s not their most active social network. But how many of you have tried Twitch?
As I’m sure many of you know- but maybe some of you don’t- Twitch is a live-streaming platform that has been extremely popular among the gaming community since 2011. Competitive gamers make names for themselves streaming their live play on Twitch along with tips, comedy, and humor. While those outside the world of gaming and esports weren’t looking, Twitch amassed a surprising 100,000,000 active monthly users, who spend an average of 1.5 hours a day on the platform. Seriously… where was I when this happened?
What makes Twitch different?
Unlike YouTube, Twitch is focused on live content. That means Twitch videos are less glossy, more raw, and often more on the goofy side when compared to YouTube videos, which boast high production values and beautiful editing. Because of this, it’s really a closer competitor to IGTV than YouTube, focusing more on the personality of the creator than the “shininess” of the content. Twitch influencers, or partners, pride themselves on their in-the-moment interactions with their followers. In fact, one of the most compelling aspects of the platform is the ongoing live chats that take place throughout the livestream. These function very differently than the comments section on a YouTube video, because they take place as the video is actively happening. Often, creators will respond directly to what is taking place in the live chat. It makes for great engagement, but it means you always have to be on top of your game while creating content.
A Monetized Platform for Influencers
Another aspect of Twitch that makes it stand out from other social networks is just how many opportunities there are for partners to earn money. Twitch users often pay for subscriptions to their favorite channels, and revenue from these subscriptions is split between the platform and the partner. Viewers even tip their favorite creators using “bits,” a sort of in-platform currency. (One bit=one penny.) Many gamers are willing to spend money on the platform because they believe doing so helps to legitimize the gaming industry. This a truly unique element of the Twitch community.
But isn’t it just for gamers?
Recently, Twitch ended their IRL (in real life) channel, which used to cover all non-gaming-related videos, in favor of ten new channels. Cooking shows, crafts, podcasts, beauty tutorials, and more are finding a home on Twitch for the first time. It does remain to be seen how successful these new channels will be, but it’s an exciting opportunity to get in on the ground floor of something new. I recently found out that one of my favorite sports podcasts hosts a live talk show on Twitch- who knew?
What are the potential drawbacks?
The reality is, the Twitch community is still mostly gamers, and still mostly men. (The platform is only about 20% women.) So, if this isn’t your audience, it might be a hard sell to make the switch. However, if you are frustrated with the lack of ad revenue on YouTube, it might be worth the risk. It is clear that Twitch is trying to expand their audience, and- who knows- maybe your followers will make the leap with you. It is yet to be seen how the tight-knit gamer community will react to an influx of new users to their platform, but their willingness to support advertisers in the name of bolstering legitimacy bodes well for their desire to bring the platform more mainstream.
Another potential drawback is that Twitch favors long-form content… very long form content. Gamers can literally stream for hours- even all day- and it’s hard to keep up with that if you’re doing makeup tutorials. The truth is, though, it takes a long time for a live video to pick-up steam. Most Twitch streams don’t really collect a large viewing and healthy chat until at least the 45-minute mark, so you’ll have to plan to be “on” for a very long time. This isn’t the place to film that quick-and-easy recipe or your 5-minute makeup look. But it could be a great platform for your four-course Thanksgiving dinner or your full getting-ready-for-prom routine.
What do you think? Will Twitch remain a niche platform focused on gamers, or will it break out into the larger influencer community?
Share your predictions in the comments!