A lot of you may already know this, but viewers are a very important part of your stream. You can have the best possible stream setup, all the branding in the world, the smoothest radio voice, play the most popular game ever, and have the figure of a Greek god, but if you have no viewers, you might as well not exist in the twitch world. So in other words, viewers are more important than anything else you may already have.
So, why exactly are viewers so important you may ask? Well, live streaming is a bit like hosting a TV show in a sense. Your viewers are your audience, and you have to treat them well to get them to come back for more. I’ve seen way too many streams that just slap “road to 1000 followers” in the title when they’re first starting out, and that just rubs me the wrong way personally. That says to me that the person in question is doing this more for himself, and the interest of increasing a number, than for the audience he’s broadcasting to.
Behind every successful streamer is a dedicated group of people that support him or her in what they do. There’s no denying that. But how do you go about getting that dedicated group of people? Well, honestly there’s no real easy way to do it. Unless you’ve already got an audience from somewhere else or have a friend who’s already a large streamer that’s helping you out, it will take time. But if you’ve got the patience and dedication in you, you can make it happen.
Now I’m not a large streamer by any means, but I’ve been around for a few months now, and I’ve sort of gotten a feel to what works and what doesn’t. So here are some tips to make sure you’re treating your viewers like the human beings they are, instead of the numbers they appear to be on screen.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Interacting with Viewers
Do: Talk to people! Get to know your audience. Viewer interaction is something that’s unique to live-streaming in a sense that neither radio nor TV can do it to the same extent as we streamers can. We have the power of being able to converse with the people watching, as well as having them be able to instantly reply via chat, thus creating a much more personal experience than TV or radio ever could.
So get to know your audience. Ask them questions, welcome them back when they return, form a real friendship, and you’ll have something more powerful than any game could offer you: Regulars. The people who watch you for who you are, who return to watch you, and not simply the game you’re playing. They are the backbone of your stream.
Don’t: Call out “lurkers”. Not everyone is interested in interacting with the host. This can be for a multitude of reasons, sometimes people aren’t able to chat, or simply just don’t want to. The important thing is to not try and force it! If someone wants to talk, they generally will. If they do, acknowledge their presence! It’s very easy to try and be nice and courteous to everyone by saying hello to people who join, but the truth is, some people prefer to be left alone. So just talk to the people who are talking to you, and let the others watch. They aren’t doing you any harm by doing so (actually quite the opposite!) and chances are, if they like you enough, they may stick around and eventually start talking to you too.
Do: Share who you are. The people watching you expect to see a human being on the other side of the monitor. It’s tempting to sometimes just play the game and zone out, but don’t do that when you’re streaming! You need to be relatable. How you should go about this isn’t necessarily set in stone, because there are many different types of viewers out there. But do something that makes you seem human. Tell silly stories, berate your performance in a joking manner, discuss topics that pop up in chat, or whatever works for you. If you’re willing to put your face out there, a webcam will help you express yourself better than simply with words. (remember, body language is huge!) The important thing to note is that you should still be yourself. If you try to force it, you’ll probably only come off as stiff and awkward. So share who you are, but don’t force anything.
Don’t: Expect anything. As much as you may appreciate your viewers and their company, know that they will show appreciation in return if they feel you deserve it. You should offer your services to them regardless of if they give you something or not. Favoritism isn’t a good thing, and if you start treating certain viewers better than others, then the people who feel neglected will soon venture out to find greener pastures. Everyone should be treated equally in my opinion, whether they give $1000 or $0. Remember: They are all using their time to watch you, instead of doing any number of other activities. (However, express your gratitude to people who DO provide positive feedback! It’s the least you can do after all.)
Do: Engage your audience. This kind of ties in with the first tip. However, engaging your audience doesn’t always mean talking to them. For example, you could try to explain your decisions in the game. Why are you doing what you’re doing? What do you hope to accomplish? Or talk about your experience with a game if it’s your first time playing it. What are your thoughts about it? What works for you, and what doesn’t? Ask questions! If you have something you’re curious about, ask the audience! Chances are someone will know and tell you. Invite your viewers to play with you if it’s a multiplayer game (and it’s a possibility) There are a multitude of ways to do this, but the important thing isn’t so much how you do it, it’s more that you actually do it.
So there you have it. A short write-up on why you should value your viewers, and how you can go about doing so. If you’re already doing these things, great! You’re bound to have a great community of people in your stream sooner or later if you keep at it. If not, consider trying it for a while and see if your viewers appreciate your efforts. Who knows, it may just pay off in the long run!
I will again state that these are just my personal opinions, and I am by no means an expert on the topic, but I figure I’d do what I can to help. Best of luck!