One very common issue streamers tend to bring up when looking to grow their stream is their follower count and how it doesn’t accurately show their growth. The follower count is going up, but the viewers are not sticking around. Why is that? Today I will be introducing a way to think about your viewers by defining them as members of a crowd versus an audience. This comparison will help you analyze what it takes convert those followers into active members of your community!
Crowd vs Audience
What is a crowd? Think of a busy day at a mall. People are out and about and you can easily meet hundreds of people for the first time. Most of them are there for their own personal objectives, and generally you rarely overlap with them. The people you meet amongst a crowd generally exit your life forever after they take care of their business.
So then what is an audience? Think of the audience that attended AGDQ 2016. All of them are there for individual, but similar reasons. The likelihood of having similar objectives is much higher, and that group of people has a genuine interest in what they’re showing up for. A good portion of the audience probably contains returning attendees, and anyone interested in the event but unable to attend find their own way to participate.
Watch Your Growth, Not Your Stats
When it comes to monitoring stream growth, the most misleading thing on Twitch is the number of followers a stream has. Nothing on Twitch better represents my example of a crowd versus an audience than the disparity between the number of follows and the actual number of people viewing when someone goes live. There are many reasons why people will choose to follow a stream, and not all of them follow to consistently watch content. At best, a streamer’s follower count is a representation of their streaming history and moments in time when people felt they had a good reason to follow. Both a streamer’s crowd and audience are packed anonymously within that follower count. When you are aiming to grow your stream, the value that you need to target is not your follower count, but your active view count. Follows will happen as a natural result of interested viewers, but catering your stream to enhance your follow count does not guarantee stable viewership.
Deciphering Your Audience
Reading your audience is one of the most valuable skills to have as a streamer. The comments that your audience makes, the valid, honest ones anyway, are a good indicator as to what people find entertaining or improvable about your stream. When people choose to tune in, comment on, and/or follow your stream, consider what kind of game you were playing and what moments had the most activity. Do people mostly react to your skill, commentary, reactions, or humor? Are their criticisms valid and worded in a way that seems like they just want to help? When you start to get a sense of what your audience finds interesting about your stream, you can start hunting for situations where you can emphasize those strengths. It will also help you fix the possible weaknesses of your stream, such as potential audio issues.
Hold Onto Your Audience
One final point about audiences I’d like to make is that it is to your advantage to focus on growing towards one audience, at least at the start. Spreading yourself thin across too many genres of games or types of content too quickly with the hopes of gathering everyone you can get has the potential to effectively reset your viewership each time you make a change. Unless you can develop strong connections with your viewers, you can't expect them to sit back and wait until the content they came for returns. Maintaining stable content for a good span of time for your viewers is one way to start turning them into an audience that will come back for the entertainer first and the entertainment second. Allowing enough time for your viewers to become attached to you and not just your content will give you more freedom to add different types of content to your stream without forgoing the effort you already put in.
Remember, someone pushing a follow button doesn’t always mean you have their undivided attention. Constantly observe your viewers as they observe you and determine as best as you can whether or not each viewer is coming from a crowd or looking to be a part of your audience. You won’t be able to hold onto everyone who comes through your stream, but that’s exactly why you have to figure out who you can convince to come along with you for the long haul.