Twitch is not TV. People log on to Twitch because they want to engage with content creators and other audience members directly and see responses in real time. The best Twitch content stays true to this purpose, and gives viewers the chance to be a part of the streaming experience. When incorporating educational or informative aspects, streamers should make an effort to retain the interactive elements that audiences look for on Twitch.
Watching a livestream, especially depending on the type of stream (refer to Stream Strategies for that!), can feel disorienting, even to the textbook Gen-Z viewer. We spent weeks understanding the culture and how streamers connect with their audiences to cultivate tight-knit communities. Streaming culture spans beyond Twitch—as a streamer develops a brand, viewers find an online home in smaller, more-exclusive Discord communities even when a streamer isn't live.
Here's the one-stop 🛒 for all things Twitch and Discord culture!
Bailey’s photoshopping in her dog into art stream. Bailey photoshopped her dog into famous works of art every Tuesday while discussing themes in Art History.
For example, Bailey streamed the process of photoshopping her dog into famous works of art while talking about art history. Because Bailey is interested and knowledgeable about art history, this made for successful and interesting streams. Bailey also has a level of expertise in the field of art history that the broader audience does not, so they can be sure to learn something new. Her discussion prompts chat interaction and sustained interest from audience members.
The biggest Twitch streamers tend to start from fulfilling a specific niche. For instance, OfflineTV is one of the best-known streaming groups at the moment, and it contains former professional players of League of Legends and Hearthstone who gained their followings when their respective games were reaching peak popularity. When just starting out, though, you don’t need to strive to be the most viewed in your category.
One example of a highly successful streamer who streams part-time is eavlol, a League of Legends streamer. Despite there being hundreds of streamers who are higher rank, eavlol has managed to carve out a niche within the community by heavily investing in emotes and increasing the value of subscriptions to her channel, since subscriber emotes can be used globally across Twitch. Her community is heavily self-moderated, with the audience showing a significantly higher willingness to condemn harmful behaviors that occur in the larger streaming and League communities.
This example demonstrates how a niche can be content-centered, as with former professional esports players, or enabled by the form of the streaming platform itself.
No matter what you decide to stream, you should keep audience interaction in mind. The chat is the main way audiences interact with streamers. An active chat can be a crucial element of a viewers’ Twitch experience, and streamers can invite activity in the chat in a number of ways. The next section looks at how a few streamers do this within their streams.
Chloe’s New York Times crossword puzzle stream, where she will stream the daily puzzle and others as well.
When streaming the New York Times Crossword, Chloe invited chat interaction by asking viewers to help her with the clues. Audience members are therefore not only viewers, they are elevated to being participants in the stream. Their contributions have an impact on what happens on screen, and they can see that in real time. This collaborative crossword format helps both streamers and viewers— doing the crossword alone is a challenge, because when you get stuck on a hard clue your options are limited. The stream format allows for a combination of collective knowledge that increases the pace of crossword completion in a way that can be extremely enjoyable.
Viewers of Chloe’s crossword stream interact in the chat helping with clues as Chloe reads them.
Here you can see the chat interaction that takes place during Chloe's stream, and how both audiences and streamers can benefit from an active chat. With the help of user "sweepingskates," Chloe was able to complete the crossword quicker than she would have if she was doing it alone.