What Can Marketers Learn From Twitch?

I recently started enjoying Twitch and was struck by some common elements that all successful streamers shared that can be readily applied to marketers of all types.

If you’re not familiar with the Twitch, it’s a platform that lets people watch others play game live.  Many people have their own favorite gamers, or streamers, who they watch on a continuous basis – think like a TV show that has new episodes every day.  Streamers can make money by people “subscribing” to them every month to get various perks, or even people making direct donations to them.

There’s a lot of traffic to the site, which is the 40th most visited site in the world, but there is a ton of competition for this traffic between the over 2 million people who have streamed.  So what are the key elements that help streamers stand out in a high competitive space?


Setting expectations for when streamers will be on seems to be one of the simplest, yet effective methods for them to attract viewers.  Many times, viewers will even schedule their activities around when a streamer will be on – just like watching a TV show.

This same type of consistency can benefit content campaigns, especially things like email newsletters.  As marketers, it’s our job to ensure we provide great content, but setting expectations as to when it’ll be received (every Saturday for example) can help increase open and click-through rates.  They may not be a brand, but if you want to see consistency combined with great content in action, check out OpenView Labs.  They’re my own go-to resource for marketing tech start-up info, and they do an amazing job.

Developing the Right Persona

Another key element for each successful streamer is that almost every one has developed their own character that they maintain whenever they’re broadcasting.

JoshOG Image

JoshOG, a popular streamer on Twitch.tv

These personas can be as simple as being consistently positive to as complicated as wearing special outfits and acting in outrageous ways.

While we may not dress up in outfits, a key focus that helps any marketer on social media now is what sort of persona to broadcast to their customers and potential customers.  The right persona that’s targeted to the specific demographics that make up your best customer group can go a long way to make every one of your social posts and ads more successful.  One brand that does this particularly well is Halo Top Creamery, which has been experiencing explosive growth over the last few years.  They identified early on that their target market were health-focused millenials (especially runners) and developed a brand persona that was a bit quirky and also focused on creating content that resonated with this group.

Direct Communication

While it’s expected that streamers focus on the game, every single successful one finds time to interact with their viewers, especially those who have subscribed or donated to them.  I’ve found it very interesting to note that viewers will actually find it rewarding to pay money to message back and forth with streamers, and that viewers can find it worthwhile to donate anywhere from $5-$100 just to simply get a few second response from a streamer.  Many streamers have also developed special emoji’s these viewers can access, as well as having special animations pop up with the viewer’s name and message for the whole stream to see.

One common mistake I’ve seen in a lot of advertising campaigns, especially those on social media, is that marketers are so focused on getting their message in front of consumers, they forget that consumers need to feel a reason to engage with the brand.  Starting a conversation is key, as is actually responding quickly to consumers who take the time to talk with you – whether it’s a question or a simple comment on what they think of your brand.

It’s also worthwhile to note that viewers expect streamers who are fair but tough on people intentionally causing trouble.  If you haven’t yet, odds are you’ll run into some of these people yourself and don’t feel like you have to placate everyone – it’s okay to block real troublemakers who aren’t trying to add anything to the conversation.

In summary, check Twitch.tv out.  Watching games may not be your thing, but it may be an entertaining break from articles and infographics as you look for new marketing ideas.

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