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How Twitch is Breaking New Ground In Audience Engagement #CMWorld

Posted on Sep 7th, 2018
Written by Nick Nelson
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    Last month, rapper Danny Brown made waves by unveiling his latest project on the live-streaming platform Twitch, dubbing it “the first-ever Twitch album.”

    It was yet another step toward widespread cultural takeover for this burgeoning content hub, which is rapidly expanding beyond its distinction as strictly a host for video game communities. Twitch’s usage numbers, and creative new applications, demand the attention of marketers everywhere seeking to up the ante for audience engagement.

    In her Thursday morning Content Marketing World keynote, Twitch’s Director of Business Development Jane Weedon shared some eye-opening stats and laid out an ambitious go-forward vision for the platform’s active audience participation model.

    Twitch by the Numbers

    In 2017, Twitch boasted more than 15 million daily visitors, who logged 355 billion total minutes of viewing. Per Alexa, was the 12th-most visited site in the U.S. last year. These figures signify the platform’s massive popularity, which is only on the rise.

    The core audience for Twitch at present is enthusiastic gamers, who both broadcast their own playing sessions (with commentary), and watch others do the same while actively participating via chat.

    But the company’s mission statement, as shared by Weedon, hints toward a broader eventual user base:

    Be the best home for content creators to build their careers and businesses, and to share their passion with fans worldwide.

    While the “content creators” have primarily been gamers up to this point, that group also includes artists, craftspeople, cooks, programmers, animators, and more. And through the Twitch Partners program, these creators have the potential to make real money.

    “We inspire people to come on and share their creativity,” explains Weedon. “And they inspire others to start streaming.”

    Four Foundations of Audience Engagement

    The platform’s content experience is guided by four pillars, which can largely be repurposed for any type of content marketing initiative:

    #1 – Live

    The streams are mainly broadcast in real-time, giving participants a unique feeling of engagement and involvement that pre-recorded video can’t quite match. While this might not be applicable for certain content types (certainly not written, unless you’re a really fast typer), it does speak to the appeal of live video as a marketing tactic.

    Authentic and real-time #video can be better than immaculately produced when it comes to engaging an audience. - Jane Weedon, @Twitch #CMWorld Share on X

    #2 – Shared

    “You can watch the Super Bowl on TV at home,” Weedon says, “but isn’t it more fun to share your passion with other fans?”

    This is essentially the premise that has vaulted Twitch into prominence – it’s like hanging out and gaming with a bunch of buddies, except you’re mirroring that experience digitally with strangers around the globe. Content marketers should ask themselves: How can we adapt his close-knit communal element into our online campaigns and programs?

    #3 – Interactive

    Interactivity is integral for making the viewers feel like they are truly part of what’s happening. This turns them into immersed participants, and it’s at the heart of Twitch’s model. And as marketers are learning, interactive content can delight audiences.

    #4 – Entertaining

    Of course, none of the above components matter if the content isn’t entertaining. Twitch has definitely found a sweet spot with its gaming audience, but to take the next step, the platform must start branching out and appealing to different tastes.

    Where Twitch is Headed Next

    Twitch has begun to widen its scope by experimenting with new types of media and content, starting with areas of adjacent interest for its gamer cohort. These include nostalgic and quirky TV shows like Power Rangers (a marathon showing of the TV show tallied 4.8 million unique viewers) and Bob Ross’s “The Joy of Painting” (5.6 million happy little viewers). These successes serve as a good lesson in knowing your audience and what it enjoys.

    “If we can provide them with other content that they like alongside gaming, we can capture more of the time they spend online,” explains Weedon.

    Marketing possibilities are almost endless. The NBA is one brand that’s jumped on board with Twitch, broadcasting games from its developmental league with slick features like quarterly polls and fantasy-like scoring conventions. TV shows such as HBO’s Silicon Valley and Netflix’s Stranger Things have held interactive events to build interest for new seasons.

    I’ll be very curious to see where Twitch goes from here as a business platform. The possibility of hosting webinars there is intriguing to me. But even beyond such potential utilities, marketers can benefit from simply studying Twitch’s highly effective audience engagement methods and stellar use of customer insights.

    Beyond potential utility, #marketers can benefit from simply studying @Twitch’s highly effective audience #engagement methods and stellar use of customer insights. - @NickNelson #CMWorld Share on X

    Stay tuned for more #CMWorld coverage and insights on the TopRank Marketing Blog. In addition, follow myself @NickNelsonMN and the some of our on-the-ground team members on Twitter at: @TopRank, @leeodden, @azeckman, and @janebartel.