Let’s start out with an illustration. You’re watching your favorite TV show on CAKETV. It’s a comedy starring Rob Schneider. The show is hilarious and you’re just about to get the a really hilarious part in the TV show, when all of a sudden out of nowhere a really obnoxious banner comes over the show with a really funny sound bite. You laugh really hard at it and figure it’s a one-time deal and shrug it off and keep watching your show. Moments later, the same notification pops up during the show. You start to get a little confused, and as you’re getting confused as to why it just happened again, the same notification pops a third time.
At this point, you’re really starting to get annoyed. Hey man, you just want to watch your boy Rob Schneider say funny things without being interrupted. So you start looking for other TV channels to watch and find out on the PIETV channel, there's another really funny TV show with no annoying banners that pop up. So you decide to watch TV there and you completely forget about the last channel.
Take that example I just gave you and think about why someone would not want to watch your stream if you constantly had annoying banners popping up announcing every time someone followed. People already use ad block so that loud and annoying ads don't play, and follower notifications can definitely be seen as a loud and annoying ad. Now take into fact that Twitch literally has thousands of streamers vying for the attention of viewers. There’s a decent chance that someone is playing the exact game you on Twitch.
Let's say I’m looking to watch a comfy Final Fantasy 7 stream, and I see two people streaming. Both of them are pretty good streamers, but one of them has to take 10 seconds every few minutes to interrupt game play to thank “BigBootyButtCheeks” for following them. I'm now forced to choose between the two and what channel do you think I'm going to choose? This example probably happens hundreds of times on Twitch daily and streamers have no idea that these follower notifications are affecting their stream in this fashion.
I’d like to introduce streamers to a rule or theory that you should have memorized and a full understanding of going forward. This rule can be applied to many facets of Twitch, and having a better understanding of it will ultimately help your stream grow.
The 1% rule (taken from Wikipedia) says that “in an internet community, only 1% of the users of a website actively create new content, while the other 99% of the participants only lurk.”
What does that mean? It means that of the X amount of viewers that are actually watching your stream, a very small portion of them are actually going to talk and interact with your stream. That is a lot of people who are lurking that just want to watch someone play a video game or have a stream up for background noise. Why is this important in regards to follower notifications? Simple, the vast majority of people don’t want to be pointed out on your stream when they follow you; they just want to watch in peace and quiet. I've heard many people personally tell me that they will actually wait to follow streams after they are offline because they don't want that kind of attention on them.
Don’t believe me? I recently did a poll asking on both Twitter and Twitch on how a follower notification affected their streaming experience. The answer makes it very clear, they aren’t worth it.
Also, when you are using these follower notifications, it makes it really easy for people to come into your stream and follow you with inappropriate names that will further cause problems for your stream. You're just inviting those people to bother and distract your stream by having follower notifications.
One of the biggest arguments for follower notifications is that it gives an opportunity to interact with viewers for streamers who have barely any viewers. I understand that when you have little to no streamer interaction, anything that can spark interaction is a good thing. But, there’s a better way without making viewers feel singled out and put in an awkward position.
When I first started streaming, I simply opened up my email to see when I’d get a new follower. Instead of saying “Hey random viewer thanks for following,” I would notice that a person or two would follow, and I would start talking about a subject I felt like opened the door for discussion. This can be anything from talking about the game you’re playing, to talking about your favorite ice cream. If you see people are taking the initiative to follow, it’s up to you to take the initiative to create the conversation.
My biggest gripe I have with follower notifications is how many people use it as a crutch and say it’s the only way they can get conversation going. The reality is, if the only thing that distinguishes your stream from the thousands of streams on Twitch is that your follower notification is gimmicky and has a hilarious sound clip, are you really building your stream for sustainable growth? The type of people that get a kick out of that will come and go, and the people that actually come for your content will get annoyed by the constant interruption of your stream and eventually move on. Don’t follow the crowd and do what everyone else does, challenge yourself to think of ways to create those interactions and don’t rely on a unreliable gimmick that only pushes viewers away, not keep them.
(If you still believe that a follower notification is completely okay for your stream, then at least do me a favor. Put it somewhere that doesn't cover up the game feed and doesn't include a really obnoxious sound. I've seen a a few streamers that use follower notifications in a way that it's not distracting, but very few are able to pull it off!)
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