With YouTube ads not providing the revenue they once did, many gaming video creators are supplementing their output with live streaming as well. But it’s not quite the same as pre-recorded videos. When playing live, there are some different strategies you should take to retain an audience.
But never fear, we have some advice for those looking to create or grow a live streaming channel. Here are 10 tips for growing (and retaining) your live stream audience:
1. Find Trending Games (But Not Oversaturated Ones)
When starting out with live streaming on Twitch or other platforms, you’ll want to choose new and popular games that are currently attracting buzz. Trending games are more likely to get the attention of viewers and will help them discover your channel.
Check game sites and search engines to see which recent games are in the news and garnering praise from players. If you manage to get a pre-release copy of a certain popular game, that’s even better.
Twitch’s homepage also shows a list of popular games among viewers if you’re struggling to find ideas. But it’s always advisable to do your research if you really want to find out what the gaming community is currently focusing on.
At the same time though, you don’t want to choose games that already have oversaturated coverage. Some games, such as Battlefield 1 or other first-person shooters, still have a large number of streamers covering them despite launching months ago.
South African streamer Kyle Singh, who streams under the name CondriacLive, emphasizes this point: “It’s important to stay away from the biggest games as there is too much competition for views. Rather focus on games with lower viewership that you really enjoy.”
Audiences of AAA titles with oversaturated coverage tend to stick to the streamers they know, as they’ve had ample time to discover who covers games in the manner they enjoy. Therefore, you may want to opt for new indie titles that are less mainstream, yet still popular. “Your viewers will be looking for that game specifically and discover you especially if you’re passionate,” Singh says.
2. Stream Consistently
As with any sort of content publishing, you need to keep a regular schedule so that your audience knows when to expect to hear from you. You can adjust this schedule depending on your own time commitments.
Try to keep your schedule consistent instead of streaming in bursts and then going silent for a while. If you don’t have much time during the week, don’t try stream daily only to disappear for a few weeks.
It’s better to stream once a week or only on weekends if this is the case. Audiences prefer consistency over erratic and irregular content schedules.
3. Keep the Conversation Going
If you just sit silently while playing your game on a live stream, there’s not much of a reason for others to watch you. Don’t worry: you won’t need to constantly talk, especially if your game requires focus. However, keeping a conversation flowing goes a long way to keeping your audience engaged.
In a skill-intensive game or dungeon, explain your strategy and what you’re doing. When playing a casual game, comment on your first impressions.
If you’ve already done this, talk to your viewers, who will likely post questions and comments in the chat section. It doesn’t all need to be related to the game — sometimes your audience just wants to get to know you.
The type of conversations you have will also depend on your audience. For example, subscribers to the various Yogscast live streamers typically enjoy their tangential humor. But an audience of hardcore gamers might want more educational narration when it comes to serious games.
4. Thank New Subscribers
Subscribers on game streaming sites such as Twitch are your bread and butter, so you should thank them accordingly. Even a small contribution helps you make money from gaming, so make sure your audience knows that you appreciate it.
This may be difficult to do when you’re trying to focus on a game, but you can use a streaming plugin to somewhat automate the process. You should note that this doesn’t replace the need to make a personal mention during your stream. But it does give them some recognition while you wait for a gap in your play where you can shift your attention.
5. Take Game and Song Requests
This is another way to show your audience that you care about their input and opinions. During your stream, ask them which games they would like you to try for your next session.
If you like to play songs during your stream, you can also take requests. The simple gesture of allowing audience members to select a song on your playlist goes a long way to fostering interaction.
6. Share Your Social Media and Interact With Followers
Speaking of interaction, some of your audience members will want to interact with you outside of stream chat. This is especially true if they can’t tune in every time. So you should share your various public social media handles with your subscribers.
No, you don’t have to become Facebook friends with each follower. But you can share your Twitter handle and any other social media pages that you want them to visit.
Even if you’re not necessarily sharing gaming-related posts, many audience members will still be interested in what you have to say. For example, popular streamer and YouTuber SovietWomble mostly shares pictures of his French Bulldog Lulu on Twitter — and his followers love it.
You can even check out social networks that are specifically for gamers. The important idea is to engage your audience outside of live streaming sessions.
As Singh says, “The key to keeping an audience is engaging with them, finding people who love the games you love and being a part of their online communities.”
7. Give the Audience Incentives to Return
Increasingly, audience members are willing to subscribe to or sponsor content creators who give them the right incentives. For example, with Patreon, many people subscribe to creators so that they can have early access to videos. Meanwhile, some YouTube Red channels often offer exclusive content that is ad-free.
Live streaming, however, is slightly different in that its ads are less frequent and annoying than YouTube. It’s also difficult to offer exclusive or early content. So what can you do to incentivize your audience?
Well, one of the best ways to do so is through giveaways. Just make sure that you understand the rules around contests for the platform you are using, and the region you are running the competition in.
Great ideas for giveaways are gift cards, game service subscriptions, and games. Items like these, which you can send keys for digitally, can save you shipping costs while you’re just starting out. Gleam is a useful tool for running competitions and will help you keep track of everything.
As your channel grows, you can aim higher and even get sponsored prizes from certain companies. But if you’re still a newbie, you could perhaps find some gaming deals to give away.
8. Get a Sponsor
For this step, you will need to already have a bit of a following. However, getting a sponsor can actually help you grow your audience further.
Getting a sponsor is often cited by streamers as a way of gaining a larger following. Some attribute this to the increased credibility that comes with being endorsed by a gaming brand.
Singh says that he plans on getting a sponsor to help grow his own audience. With his Twitch channel and various social media pages, his followers add up to around 2,000 people. However, his Twitch audience still needs to grow as he is a relative newcomer. He only started streaming in October, but has managed to gain 100 followers in that short time.
“I have a few paying subscribers and I have reached Twitch Affiliate status,” Singh says. “I’m trying to grow by attracting sponsors and engaging with communities.”
9. Get Other Gamers Involved
While live streaming is mostly a solo venture, it’s great to get some other gamers involved in the occasional stream. It doesn’t have to be a regular feature or official partnership. However, the occasional variety can be a great addition to your channel.
Try to find gamers with whom you have some chemistry. Banter is one of the most entertaining things for gaming audiences, especially in multiplayer games. You won’t necessarily need a local gamer who appears in person. In fact, some great partnerships are formed between streamers who have never even met offline.
You can also appear on someone else’s stream, which will give you extra exposure to potential new audience members.
10. Use Decent Equipment
One of the major aspects that affects your audience’s viewing experience is streaming quality. You don’t need to worry about establishing a flawless, 4K stream. But you need to make sure the quality is acceptable. Hissing microphones, serious packet loss, and highly pixelated visuals will chase most audiences away.
Make sure to equip yourself with a decent microphone and a fast internet connection before you stream. If you want to put a face to your stream, invest in a decent webcam too. Also, don’t try to play games which are too intensive for your gaming rig.
What Other Ways Can You Attract an Audience?
Following these tips will get you off to a good start with your gaming stream. But there are many other ways you can grow your audience and keep them coming back for more. Make sure to look at popular streamers’ videos so that you can learn from the best. Also, reach out to other fledgling streamers as the community is often full of support.
Even if you have an audience already, it always helps to keep up-to-date with the latest techniques to keep growing. And if you’re still having trouble getting viewers, try changing up the games you’re playing.
What other tips do you have for growing a live stream audience? What do your favorite streamers do that keeps you watching? Let us know in the comments below.