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Remember the movie The Truman Show? The one where Jim Carrey’s everyday life is broadcast as a TV show? Well, Twitch might not be around in 2021 had it not been for a similar idea. You might think I’m crazy, but keep reading to discover the connection between the two. Oh, and I’ll also take you through the basics of Twitch as well as what you need to know for Twitch influencer marketing.

What is Twitch?

Twitch started out as a spinoff of, a now-defunct general-interest streaming platform. Justin Kan ran the very first channel, where he engaged in lifecasting, or 24/7 broadcasting of his everyday life. So Justin was our real-life Truman, although thankfully he was aware of the broadcast he was starring in.

A GIF of The Truman Show.

Anyway, long story short, Justin then went on to co-found Twitch. In 2014, Amazon bought the company and integrated it with its own subscription service, Prime. At this time, Kan also shut down, which had been outshadowed by its spinoff sibling.So that’s how it started, but how’s it going? In short, well. Here are a few key statistics about Twitch to prove how far it’s come since Justin Kan’s Truman days:

  • In 2021, an average of 2.84 million people simultaneously viewed Twitch streams.
  • The year-end estimated revenue for 2020 was $2.3 billion.
  • Advertising revenue from the channel has climbed steadily from $100M in 2017 to $750M in 2020.

Additionally, with respect to influencer marketing, the use of Twitch influencers in marketing campaigns has risen from 9,990 in 2018 to 36,663 in 2020. The network is growing, and marketers are clearly taking note.If you’re new to Twitch influencer marketing, or to Twitch itself, there are some key concepts you’ll want to get a grasp on.

The basics of Twitch

Let’s get an overview of the Twitch platform and how you can use it.

A breakdown of Twitch live streams and replays

A Twitch live stream.

Let’s use Caedrel’s channel as an example to break down a live stream:

  • We see the live stream content in the middle. Note that Caedrel’s avatar has a red LIVE tag.
  • Beneath the stream, we see the streamer’s username, the title of the stream, and the game or topic that they’re streaming. We can scroll down for more info about the streamer.
  • Next to the streamer’s info we have the Follow and Subscribe buttons, as well as the Viewer Count and current stream duration.
  • At the left-hand side of the screen, we see Twitch’s Recommended Channels, and beneath that, channel recommendations based on what the streamer’s viewers also watch.
  • On the right-hand side, we see the Stream Chat. This is where viewers can comment, react, give gifts, and cheer.

Now, to see replays of past live streams, simply click the streamer’s username. You’ll then see tabs for the following:

  • Home - the streamer’s homepage
  • About - info about the streamer and their achievements
  • Schedule - when the streamer plans to be active, and when they’ve streamed in the past
  • Videos - recent broadcasts, popular clips, and all videos
  • Chat - link to the streamer’s chat
Where to find a streamer's recent videos.

What do Twitch streamers mostly stream about?

Twitch’s main category when it comes to content is gaming. But the network offers some other topics as well.

Just Chatting is general interest, where streamers can just talk about anything with their viewers. There’s also content for topics like Sports, ASMR, Art, or Food and Drink.

That said, gaming influencers dominate Twitch. Hand-in-hand with that is the network’s section for Esports (competitive gaming).

Data about the most-viewed games on Twitch.
Source: TwitchTracker.

The above chart shows us the most popular games throughout Twitch’s history. While Just Chatting is the single “game” with the most viewers, we can see that the other individual games listed are all true video games.

Twitch Rivals

Speaking of esports, Twitch Rivals is a recurring esports tournament featuring Twitch streamers and former competitive pro gamers. Each tournament has its own rules and cash prize.

Twitch Rivals offers interesting ways for brands to advertise. In the example below, we see that Doritos is sponsoring the current Twitch Rivals competition, the Doritos Disruptor Series.

Dorito's Disruptor Challenge on Twitch Rivals.

How old do you have to be to stream on Twitch?

According to Twitch’s Privacy Policy, you must be 13 to sign up for an account.

In an effort to protect children’s privacy, the network urges parents to contact them if they discover their child under 13 has created an account.

What does this mean for marketers? Brands collaborating with minors may have special implications, especially when it comes time to contracts and payments. Certain countries may also have laws or regulations about children being paid for content creation services.

Before collaborating with any Twitch streamer, verify their age. If they’re a minor, you may have to deal with their parents during negotiations. Finally, check into any rules and regulations that may apply to your campaign and make sure you fulfill them.

Can Twitch streamers see who is watching?

Yes and no.

If you have a Twitch account and are logged in, the streamer will be able to see you. Other views will, too. To clarify, “see” here means see your username. The streamer or other viewers won’t be able to see your face or anything like that.

To see active viewers, go to the Stream Chat and click the icon with two people. This toggles the chat with a list of the users currently watching. In the example below, we can see that Shroud is broadcasting, there are some moderators and VIPs, and then a list of users.

Twitch viewer list

However, if you don’t want a streamer to see your username while you’re watching them, there’s a simple fix: don’t log in. If you watch a stream logged out of your account, you won’t show up.

From a marketing perspective, watching streams logged out could be a good way to do some research on your competition and see who's viewing them.

Viewer List versus Viewer Count

So we’ve just learned that only logged-in users appear in a stream’s Viewer List. It’s what you see in the image above.However, the Viewer Count takes into account both logged-in and logged-out viewers. This number changes in real-time as viewers join and leave the stream. To see the Viewer Count, look for the red number at the bottom right of the screen.

Where to find the Twitch Viewer Count.
The Viewer Count at the time of this screenshot was 43,006.

The Viewer Count is important for marketers. It gives you the most accurate picture of how many people are watching a streamer’s content, regardless of if those audience members are logged in to Twitch or not.

Twitch followers versus Twitch subscribers

While we’re talking about viewers and that, let’s go through followers and subscribers on Twitch. Unlike on other social networks, these terms aren’t interchangeable here.

The main difference between Twitch followers and Twitch subscribers is this: followers are free, and subscribers are paid.

Followers will see the streamer’s channel in their following list. They’ll also see the streamer on their homepage when he or she goes live.

Subscribers pay to support their favorite streams. There are three subscription tiers ranging from $4.99 to $24.99 per month. A portion of these fees go directly to the streamer to help cover their streaming and living expenses. Twitch says that 70% of its users offer monetary support to streamers.

In exchange, subscribers get special perks. These differ depending on the subscription tier and channel, but some general examples are:

  • Special emotes to use in chats
  • Access to exclusive chats or competitions just for subs
  • Ad-free viewing

For marketers, it’s important to understand the difference between viewers, followers, and subscribers. These are three different relationships to the streamer, and play into your marketing goals differently.

For instance, if you’re going for pure impressions on a branding campaign, you might look at average viewers plus followers and subscribers when deciding which streamer can best help you achieve your goal.

On the other hand, if your CTA involves people spending money, you might want to prioritize subscriber count over the other relationships. These people have already spent money on the streamer, so we could say they’re already a bit further down the funnel.

Twitch Prime

While talking about subscribers, it’s worth mentioning Twitch Prime. Remember how Amazon owns Twitch?

Amazon has its own gaming service, Prime Gaming, included in its Prime package. With a Prime subscription, users can sign up for tier 1 subscriptions to their favorite Twitch channels at no additional cost.

Depending on your business and products, this may be interesting if you want to work with both Amazon influencers and Twitch streamers on a campaign. This connection may help you extract insights or leads more easily.

Twitch Channel Points

In addition to getting perks through subscription, viewers can get what’s called Channel Points.

Viewers can earn channel points by watching, following, or participating in raids.

Default rewards are things like unlocking emotes or highlighting your message in the stream chat.

Default channel points rewards.
Default rewards for Channel Points. Source: Twitch Channel Points Guide

But streamers can also customize the rewards for channel points as they see fit. A few examples are: make me dance on stream, choose my music, or choose the next game I play.

This feature is a great way to boost engagement among the audience. Getting points and rewards is fun, and helps viewers feel more involved in the streamer’s world. And for brands, there are lots of creative possibilities here to offer branded rewards and boost awareness and engagement.

Twitch Raids

I mentioned that users can get channel points for participating in raids. But if you’re not an experienced Twitch user, you might be wondering what that even means.

Raids are basically when a streamer and their viewers invade another channel. When one channel initiates a raid, it sends all of its viewers to the target channel.

This is useful for building connections between streamers or supporting up-and-coming streamers that don’t have a lot of viewers yet.

Unfortunately, this feature has also been used to harass streamers, so much so that Twitch has installed new functionalities to protect against so-called hate raids. In hate raids, which are often targeted at minority groups, bot followers are used to overwhelm the victim’s stream chat with hateful messages. Twitch has said it will allow for phone verification for using stream chats, in an effort to track and ban users who participate in these raids.

With respect to marketing, raids open up the possibility for easy and engaging multi-way collaborations. If you work with a few Twitch streamers on a campaign, they could raid each other to keep the conversation about your brand going.

All about Twitch influencer marketing

Now that we’ve run through the basics of Twitch, let’s dig a bit deeper into Twitch influencer marketing. We’ll cover Twitch analytics, how to find Twitch streamers, how to make money on Twitch, and some other useful info for marketers.

TwitchTracker and its analytics

Twitch offers its own native analytics platform: TwitchTracker. As a marketer, you can extract some pretty powerful insights from here about the Twitch landscape.

TwitchTracker offers data about the most-followed and most-subscribed channels, the most-streamed games, top clips, and other statistics related to the use of the network.

For example, using TwitchTracker, we can see that the top 5 languages used in streams, based on data from the last 7 days, are: English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, and Korean.

The most popular languages used on Twitch.

Information like this is vital for determining if your target audience is active on Twitch.

How to find Twitch streamers

So, if you want to work with Twitch streamers on your next campaign, how do you find them? Like with any social network, you first need the base knowledge about finding the right influencers for your brand.

For Twitch, prioritize the following:

  1. Average concurrent viewers
  2. Followers and subscribers
  3. Regularly active
  4. High engagement rates
  5. A genre that aligns with your brand and products
  6. An audience that aligns with your target audience
  7. Viewer sentiment and good vibe in chat interactions
  8. Language, location, and other demographics that fit with your goals

It’s important that at the influencer discovery stage, you have a very clear image of your target audience and what they’re interested in. This will help refine your search to the corners of Twitch where your target hangs out.

Remember that influencers should also be brand-safe. In other words, choose someone who upholds the same values as your brand, so you don’t end up in a situation collaborating with someone who damages your reputation.

Once you understand the process, start searching for streamers. One place to start is the Twitch Directory. Here you can view different topics and games, and then see the channels associated with them.

You can also use the box at the top to search for specific streamers, channels, content categories or keywords.

What are the benefits of Twitch in influencer marketing?

Twitch offers the opportunity to capitalize on the same influencer marketing benefits as other networks: brand awareness, increased sales, more engagement, and so on.

But the two biggest differences between other networks and Twitch are these:

  1. Twitch relies 100% on spontaneity; and
  2. Twitch pushes a tightly-knit community experience.

And both of these are beneficial to influencer marketers.

Spontaneous content

Twitch doesn’t allow for pre-recorded and heavily edited videos. On other networks, this type of content can make influencer content—and by extension, brand collaborations—come across as inauthentic or too forced.

With Twitch you get around this. Viewers understand that what they’re seeing is a streamer’s reaction in real time. So if they’re really excited about your product during their live stream, that’s a reaction that viewers are more likely to trust.

Of course, this means that it’s crucial to find the right streamer to partner with. You should also make sure that when setting up collaborations, you make sure the streamer understands your brand and its products, so that there’s no confusion or negative reaction on air.

Community experience

Various features on Twitch promote a community experience in ways that other networks simply don’t. The stream chat allows for fluid and authentic conversations. Channel points reward viewers for their loyalty. And raids are essentially the Twitch version of team-building experiences.

The benefit of all this is engagement. And the more engaged an audience is with an influencer, the more likely they are to stick around. There’s also a better chance that they’ll get interested in and trust brands that those influencers promote.

Understand the Twitch audience

70% of Twitch viewers are between the ages of 16 and 34, and are 65% male and 35% female.

These are tech savvy people who grew up with the Internet and social media.

And going back to the idea that engaged viewers will also engage with your brand, this isn’t just a hypothesis.

Twitch itself says that its audience is “open to advertising and community focused.” In greater detail, data from Twitch shows that is audience:

  • Seek expert opinions before purchasing expensive items.
  • Tell their friends and family about new products.
  • Tend to buy brands that they’ve seen advertised.
  • Buy products and services in order to be a part of the community that surrounds them.

This is huge for influencer marketers: you know you have an audience who won’t mind your ads. So as long as your brand fits into the Twitch ecosystem and your products are somehow valuable to the audience, you’re already on the path to success.

Collaboration ideas for Twitch influencer marketing

We know that Twitch viewers aren't so bothered by ads. But the platform is all about entertainment and authenticity, so make sure you approach your collaboration content with that in mind. These are a few content ideas for your Twitch influencer marketing collaborations.

Shoutouts and reviews

A Twitch streamer can mention your brand, or talk about one of your products or services. They might run through the benefits you provide or the problems you help them solve. For example, game companies might send streamers their new game and ask them to review it on stream.

Product placements

Product placements are when the streamer visually features your product on-screen in its stream. Maybe you collaborate with a Twitch streamer to drink your soft drink while they’re streaming.

Unboxings and demos

Taking product placement a step further, you can also ask streamers to unbox your product live. This gives viewers a raw look at how your product comes right out of the box. Or, streamers can demonstrate how your product works so their audience sees it in action.

Giveaways and events

You can adapt the traditional giveaway to live streams as well. Just change the rules to enter. Maybe users have to type something specific into the chat, or spend channel points on an entry.

For events, streamers can take their viewers behind the scenes at esports tournaments, gaming or comic conventions, product launches, and more.

The bottom line on Twitch influencer marketing

Twitch influencer marketing is a path to building entertaining and authentic collaborations. But if you’re used to working on other networks, you may have to adjust your brand’s strategy to accommodate Twitch’s focus on spontaneity and the community experience. Finding the right influencer is key to this, as is understanding your target audience and the Twitch audience.