What do all successful streamers have in common? The answer is a strong sense of community.
Livestreaming platforms like Twitch are built around community. If you want to be successful on these platforms, you have to build a community of loyal viewers up around your channel. Creating great content is important too, of course, but it can only get you partway there.
In this article, we’re going to be showing you exactly how to build your streaming community in seven steps. Ready? Let’s get started!
Define Your Mission & Values
The first thing to do is to ask yourself why you want to stream in the first place. Are you in it for the social factor? Are you hoping to help others or spread a particular message through your stream? Or do you just love playing games and want to monetize that hobby?
Once you know why you’re streaming, you can use that to create your own mission statement and share it with your viewers. Having a mission and your own set of values in place gives you an identity that your viewers can get behind and harbors a sense of community.
You also need to think about what kind of values you want your stream to stand for. We’ve all heard about ‘toxic’ gaming culture; is this the kind of community values you want to promote? If not, don’t be afraid to set some community guidelines and enforce them.
For example, you might want to make a list of rules for your stream chat, like:
- Respect others
- Be kind
- No swearing/cursing (if you want to keep it family-friendly)
- No bullying/racism/homophobia
You get the picture. It all depends on your personal values and the kind of community you’re hoping to create. Having a set of rules in place can help to create the right kind of environment and make your stream chat feel like more of a ‘safe space’ where your viewers can interact.
To give a little context to this, let’s look at some examples of how popular streamers have defined their own mission and values.
Examples of Streaming Missions and Community Values
Here’s a great example of a mission statement from Swedish Twitch streamer Thorlar, whose all about using the platform to spread positivity and do good.
As you can see, he includes his community in his mission statement: “we’re on a journey of daily streams for 10 years, doing charity while just having fun”, making it feel like a group effort. This is a great way to strengthen that sense of community. He also has some fair, healthy rules in place to help keep things polite and respectful.
Here’s another great example from Ms-Ash-Rocks, a black female streamer who works hard to use the platform to lift up others by sharing her infectious energy and positivity.
Did you notice how she also gave her community a name in this mission statement? This is another great tip for building your community as it helps to create a kind of collective identity amongst you and your viewers. Every successful influencer seems to have one, like PewDiePie’s ‘Bros’, for example.
Finally, let’s look at Lara6683’s mission statements. In contrast to the streamers above, Lara is quite upfront about the fact that Twitch is her job – and that’s ok.
There’s an important lesson here: authenticity is important. Don’t say that your stream is all about giving back to the community if it’s not. If you’re streaming to make money, don’t be afraid to let your community know. No one will begrudge you of that, and they’ll probably appreciate the honesty too.
Build Your Streaming Brand Identity
Once you’ve defined your mission and values, it’s time to work on your brand identity. Your brand identity is super important when it comes to both building a community and growing your channel.
In a nutshell, your brand identity refers to the particular kind of visuals or design elements associated with your streaming channel. The more you expose your viewers to your branding elements, the more it’s going to connect with them.
It all starts with your logo. If you have the budget for it, try to work with a graphic artist to create your logo as this will be the ‘centerpiece’ of your brand.
A graphic designer will know what works and what doesn’t. If you try to do this part yourself, you run the risk of creating something that looks unprofessional that you won’t want to be associated with your brand further down the line.
It’s not just about the logo either. You also need to work on other branding elements like:
- Channel banners
- Social profile pictures
- Social profiles
- And more
The keyword here is consistency. Make sure your branding is consistent across the board. The color scheme should be the same, the font should stay the same, and there should be a consistent ‘thread’ running through everything.
Examples of Excellent Branding
To help you get an idea of what good branding looks like, let’s look at some popular streamers and their brands.
Here’s an example of a logo from streamer Dr DisRespect, known for playing battle royale games like PUBG and Apex Legends.
The common ‘thread’ on his channel is the mustache, which shows up in pretty much every visual related to his brand, from his logo to his alerts. This is also a great example of how you should try to incorporate elements of your own personality or identity into your branding.
Streamer Lirik also does a great job of this. Pictures of little cats are ubiquitous across his branding – they show up everywhere!
The upshot of this is that his viewers associate a big part of his brand with these cats.
A final point worth mentioning on the topic of branding is that it’s not just about visuals – it’s about sound branding too.
On Twitch, for example, you can set up alert noises that play when you receive donations, get a new subscriber, or anything similar. These elements can be a powerful branding tool that your viewers will hear again and again as they watch your stream.
Try to create sound elements that reflect your brand identity.
Create a Streaming Content Plan
In order to build your streaming community, you need to actually start streaming first. That’s why the next step is to create your streaming content plan. This plan will tell you what you’re going to be streaming and when you’re going to be streaming it. Here’s how to create one.
Choose What to Stream
Visibility is super important at the start. You can’t build a community of viewers if nobody sees your content. The problem is that it’s 2019, and streaming platforms tend to be pretty saturated with streamers at this point – so much so that it can be tough to stand out from the crowd and attract any viewers at all.
The solution is to find the right ‘niche’ and think carefully about what you’re going to stream. Try to break the mold and do something new and exciting. This will give you the best chance of standing out in a competitive platform.
Popular games like PUBG and Fortnite are already very saturated with streamers and it can be tough to find your own space in these communities. Smaller games with more of a niche audience are a good target.
You also have to decide whether you want to be a ‘variety streamer’ (someone who streams various different things) or a single-game streamer.
Your community will want to watch your content for either your personality or the games you play. When you’re first starting out, it’s usually a good idea to stick with one game. If you change focus before you’ve had a chance to build a strong sense of community and connect with your viewers, you’ll probably lose the majority of them.
Choose a Schedule and Stick to It
To build a community, you need to be consistent with your live streaming so that your viewers know when to tune in. Let your audience know exactly when you’ll be streaming each week and try your best to stick to that schedule.
You’ll notice that eventually, your viewers will start turning up for your streams before you even go online.
Generally speaking, the more often you stream, the faster your channel will grow. However, it’s also easy to get burned out if you try to stream too often. Find that middle ground that works for you.
Interact With Your Streaming Community on Social Media
To help to build your community, it’s important to create lots of avenues for everyone to interact with you and with each other. Sure, you can all hang out in your Twitch chat when you’re streaming, but what about when you’re not?
One way to interact with your community when you’re not live streaming is to be active on social media. Regularly post updates on your Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts to let your community know what you’re up to.
You should definitely also create places for your community to congregate even when you’re not streaming. The easiest way to do this is to create your own Discord server and Subreddit. These platforms will eventually become a ‘base’ where your community can interact 24/7.
Engage With Your Streaming Community On & Off Stream
The more you engage with your streaming community, the faster your channel will grow. Here are some more tips on practical ways to engage with your streaming community both on and off stream.
Be Responsive in Your Stream Chat
Live stream audiences aren’t passive viewers like viewers on other platforms. Watching a live stream is very much an interactive experience, which is why having a conversation with your viewers whilst streaming is so important.
Make sure you keep an eye on Twitch chat throughout your stream and respond to as many questions and comments as you can so that your audience feels as involved as possible. You should also try to react to donations and subscriptions so that your viewers know that they’re appreciated and valued.
However, it’s also important to remember that not everyone wants to chat. Some people just want to watch from the shadows – these kinds of viewers are called ‘lurkers’. Try to respect their privacy and don’t say hello to anyone who isn’t using the chat.
Host an Online Movie Night
Another great way to engage with your community is to host community events, like an online movie night. You and your viewers can watch a movie at the same time, which can really help you to bond with your viewers and foster that sense of friendship and community.
Hold Viewer Game Nights
Another great way to engage with your viewers is to schedule regular ‘viewer game nights’ where you allow your viewers to play a game with you. You can easily set this up using the Game Queue extension, which allows you to invite viewers to join the game queue from within the Twitch platform.
Network with Other Streamers
Networking with other streamers is also very important, it can be a great way to reach new potential viewers and expand your community.
The easiest way to start networking is to simply watch other streamers that make similar content to you. By that, I absolutely don’t mean to go onto their stream chat and start promoting your own channel. That’s not only considered rude, but it’s also ineffective – nobody likes a self-promotional spammer.
Instead, you should just focus on being a part of their community. Interact with others in the chat and make friends. Hopefully, other viewers will start to recognize you and might end up checking out your channel and becoming part of your community too.
Another great way to network is through hosting. Hosting is when you share a stream from another channel with your viewers after you sign off. This both allows your chat community to continue to hang out after you’ve finished streaming and is a great promotional tool.
By hosting another streamer on your channel, they might do the same for you, thus helping you to reach new viewers.
You can also try raiding other channels. Raiding is similar to hosting except you’ll be sending your viewers directly to another live channel at the end of your stream to help them to grow their community.
Involve Your Streaming Community in Decisions
After you’ve built up your streaming community, try to include them in important decisions about your channel so that they continue to feel like they’re an important part of the group.
For example, you could ask your viewers about what games they’d like to see you play next and start Reddit threats and social polls where your community can share their opinions. Doing so will help to keep your community strong and your viewers engaged.
There you have it! Now you know the best way to build your streaming community and grow your channel. All that’s left to do now is to put that advice into practice.
Pixels Gaming has a bunch of tools and extensions that can help you to build your following too, so make sure you go check them out.
Good luck and keep streaming!