Disclaimer: Just my two cents on how interacting with my audience has worked out with me. Still a small streamer as mentioned in the post.
One important way in growing your audience that I don’t see talked about here often is getting your audience involved. Every streamer has a different level of interaction with their viewers. Some completely ignore them and others go as far as having them on the stream. Everyone has a different method that works for them, but how exactly can you get your audience interacting? This is my experience thus far over the last couple months from what I’ve learned. Some of you may disagree and have experienced different scenarios or ways that work for you.
Starting off with two examples that have worked for me with Agario and Skyrim
My Recent Success With Agario
I won’t fool anyone, I’m still a small streamer. However, I recently started playing a simple multiplayer browser game called Agario. The way it works is you take control of a small blob and over time eat other blobs getting bigger to the point that you’re eating other players. It’s so simple, yet when people work together, it tends to get interesting and complex.
I usually have 5 – 10 regulars in the stream, but I’ve gone up to 20 – 40 concurrent viewers hanging around when I play Agario. The reason Agario is my perfect example is because it only takes a little more power than a flash game, is free, and runs in your browser. This means, almost anyone can play it, and it’s even on mobile. It doesn’t have sound effects, fancy graphics, or music at all. One of my regulars asked if I could play it with him and I said what the heck why not.
I’ve had those 20 – 40 concurrent viewers teaming up with me in the game by putting a [S] tag behind their names. Then we all work together in growing bigger and bigger until we’re conquering the server. This has led to players from the game even finding the stream! I allow song requests (Nightbot) since it’s not a story type game where the music would ruin the atmosphere. This means with Agario, I’m able to involve viewers by having them play their own music and play with them in the game. This works well for me as I don’t often have viewers chat with me in a TeamSpeak or Mumble, but can still achieve a great amount of interaction.
Getting Interaction w/ Skyrim
I found myself playing Skyrim since I knew it was a favorite of one of my regulars. Another regular hopped in the first day I streamed it, right as I mentioned that I’ve never done anything with magic in the Elder Scrolls games. They asked if I could do the Mage’s Guild and I made it my goal to become the Arch-Mage, even completing it in one full stream! However, I took things a step further by making it a magic only character. People got a kick out of this and I think I even drew in some new viewers that way. As someone that never does anything with magic, this created a whole new form of content for me to discover. Despite having played Skyrim in the past.
While some might see it as backseat gaming and steer away, it hasn’t bothered me. Every so often I’ll go through interesting missions that viewers point me in the direction of too.
A common piece of advice when trying to get those one or two viewers chatting, is to ask questions. I had a moment earlier today where I was lucky enough to have 20 viewers and we went from a bustling conversation to a quiet moment. Someone pointed it out and I just started asking basic, stupid questions. I joked that we were all going on a date making small talk.
Things like favorite foods, favorite color, what shows or movies everyone is watching, etc. This provides a way for everyone to get involved by answering. Plus, they learn a thing or two about you when you answer. You don’t want to be afraid to let your personality shine, these people can be your best friends (like I said, depending on how much interaction you have). You can find common interests this way and create a deeper connection with a viewer. To some people, you’re their idol.
As always, you want to be consistently talking and commentating about what’s going on in the game, but those questions can veer those lurkers out of lurking. It’s important however to remember that lurkers aren’t a bad thing. A lurker might not be an interesting chatter, but they’re still someone that is there for you. Plus, they’re one step closer to raising yourself in the game directory. I tell people all the time, we’re entertainers if we’re not eSports competitors. Those guys still are, but it’s a different form.
Remember to Read Your Chat
This goes without saying, unfortunately some don’t have the equipment to do so. I have a second monitor that I keep my OBS on and the chat, at all times. This makes it so I can check for new messages. As a small streamer especially, you never want to miss those messages! Those first follows are vital in your development as a streamer. People chat expecting to be heard, otherwise, why would they? If you’re ignoring the chat, you’ll be lucky if they continue to lurk.
Every time you see a message, that’s an interaction you should be ready to capitalize on. This can be a new follower, a new regular, and honestly, that one person that motivates you to keep on streaming. I always treat my viewers with respect as I love to hang out with them personally; using Twitch as the platform to do so. Other ways to read your chat can include a phone, a tablet, and a laptop.
For the bigger streamers that already have a sprawling audience before them chatting. I can’t speak from their perspective as I haven’t got there yet. This is why we see Slow Mode used so it’s not impossible to read the chat. Some streamers don’t even use it to interact, but more so as a reward for followers/subscribers. As you and your audience grows, it’s going to get harder to communicate with them. This is no surprise and I wouldn’t expect anyone to be surprised.
You might not be reading every single message in the chat anymore, but there are still ways of giving back. Giveaways, social media, Twitch Alerts or whatever other bots you use (transitioning from thanking followers to donations/subscribers). Constantly innovating on ways to get your audience involved allows you to propel your community into something incredible. I’ve recently taken to creating a Discord channel as the team here at /r/Twitch has. It’s been a slow project, but it’s allowing me to talk to viewers outside the stream every so often.
Try looking into Ankhbot (I haven’t set mine up yet), get a currency system going! There are all sorts of ways to integrate a currency system into your stream. For those that don’t know what I’m talking about, where viewers get some sort of currency over time by being in your stream. This encourages them to stick around and get a reward out of it.
Plugging Yourself on Your Own Stream
One tip I’ve told a new streamer friend of mine is essentially plugging yourself during the stream. When I notice an influx of viewers, I make sure to mention my schedule real quick and that people can follow if they’re enjoying the stream. Or I’ll mention every so often (30 minutes, an hour)
Everyone has their own road to success, none following the same path. That doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to make the road easier and more enjoyable! A more interactive stream creates a more entertaining one for both you and them, as well as pushing you toward sustain-ability if that’s your goal!
I’d love to hear ways that interacting with your stream has worked for you!