I probably won’t break any news to anyone if I say that there is a huge number of online multi-user platforms nowadays. And most of them have instruments and features to facilitate socializing and communication between users. This is perhaps the reason it’s sometimes hard to define what is and what is not a social network. Take Twitch. Is Twitch social media?
Sure, I know that Twitch occupies a special niche and is very different from Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. On the other hand, it would hardly become what it is now without its powerful social ingredient.
Opinions may vary, I know. But I say let’s get to the heart of the issue and do some research.
What is a social network?
Before we dive deep into all the intricacies of the massive multi-user platform that Twitch is, let’s think of what a social network really is. The definition is simple: it’s any social structure based on interactions between people, often united by common interests. In terms of an online platform, a social network is a web resource that enables people to connect with each other and participate in groups based on specific agendas, hobbies, and/or values. How do these web-platforms do this? You guessed it: by offering tools and features to make all kinds of communication and interactions fast and easy. I’m talking about sharing videos, images, music, using chats, blogs, etc.
It all started with groundbreakers like Classmates.com and MySpace. Both were insanely popular in their time and both are all but forgotten now. However, they’ve paved the way for social networks as we know them now. While Facebook is the first thing that comes to mind, there are lots of niche social media catering to just about any target audience in existence.
Is Twitch social media?
So does all that I said above apply to Twitch? Yes and no. Twitch was created as (and still is) a live streaming platform. It’s not where you can see people posting deep quotes, cat videos, or photos of their lunch. Twitch streamers do live webcasting (or sometimes upload pre-recorded videos), mostly about gaming. They often actively comment on what is going on in these broadcasts or videos and often use live webcams. Most importantly (in terms of our little research here), streaming involves a live chat visible both to streamers and their audience. Both streamers and people watching their content can offer their comments at any time.
That being said, there’s no denying it: social interactions are big on Twitch. This is exactly how streamers can connect with their audiences and vice versa. Twitch users can send each other messages, follow their favorite streamers, and actively participate in chats. So yes, Twitch does have all the definitive aspects of a social media platform.
What differs Twitch from other social media?
In case you are already familiar with other social networks, you know the answer to this question. Twitch’s target demographic is those who enjoy live video streaming, whether it’s about gaming or not.
So while Twitch does belong to this big social media family it’s geared to cater to the needs and interests of a specific audience, rather than general.
What to watch on Twitch
This might seem crazy, but whatever you find interesting enough. Twitch has a simple user-friendly interface. So even those who visit it for the first time won’t find it hard to navigate through the website and browse channels.
Even if you weren’t sure about this before, a single look at the home page will convince you that it’s a nice little gamers haven. Well, “little” might not be the correct word since it hosts over 15 million users on a daily basis. But you get my meaning.
Almost everything on this platform is from gamers, for gamers, and about gamers. So if it’s something up your alley, use search or browse categories to find channels to your liking and go for it.
The overwhelming majority of streaming channels are in English. This is something to keep in mind if English isn‘t your primary language. However, chances are you can find channels in your native language, so you might want to do some research.
Just to help you get some idea of what kind of content you can find there, here’s an indicative list for you:
Live video game streaming
Talk shows and podcasts
Broadcasts of gaming championships and other gaming events
Competitions and giveaways
But of course, the list is far from being comprehensive. You can find all types of content on this platform far beyond the ones listed above. And don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean to say that if you are not a gamer and not planning to become one in a foreseeable future, Twitch is not for you. You can quite likely find something more to your taste here. From arts & crafts to ASMR and body art, Twitch has a lot to offer.
How to make money on Twitch
Don’t fall asleep on me now, we are getting to interesting stuff. Is it possible to monetize your Twitch presence? Yes, it is. If you are good at gaming (or doing something else), why not try and earn some money while doing what you love?
Don’t expect that it will be easy, though. In case you are yet another gamer, you’ll have to deal with massive competition on this platform. This means that your content, its quality, and what you have to say must be really top-notch.
How it works
You can monetize your Twitch channel by utilizing ads and paid subscriptions. Generally speaking, Twitch is a free to use platform. You can easily create a personal channel, talk to people, and watch videos, as well as stream yours, all free of charge.
But here’s the thing. This platform is incredibly attractive for advertisers because it offers access to a large audience of people that spends a lot of time online. That’s why you can see ads as soon as you visit a channel. They also pop up from time to time during webcasts.
Many people find this annoying. But Twitch offers a solution: a small monthly payment will rid you of the majority of ads. And it will also give you some nice little perks like the enhanced color scheme in chats and emojis.
There is this thing called the Twitch Partner program. Once you join it and become a Partner, you can place ads on your channel and earn money for a certain amount of ads viewed by people who visit your channel. If your ad revenue is over $100, you get paid on a monthly basis.
But that’s not the only bonus you get when you are a Partner. Apart from that, your channel also gets to feature among Recommended on the main page. And some Partners can also charge their viewers for access to HD streams and archive videos, private chats, reduced ads, and more.
How to make it work for you
Got really hopeful already? That’s ok, I’m here to bring you back to reality. All of the above won’t work if you don’t have a large audience interested in viewing your content on a regular basis. And getting this kind of audience can be a real pain in the backside.
Not to worry, though. There are some useful tips that will help you get started.
1. Find your own niche and mojo
There are over 2 million streamers on Twitch now. This means that surprising people with something new and fresh is pretty hard. On the other hand, it’s not impossible. Play to your strengths. What is it that you are really good at? What will make you stand out? Don’t be afraid to be quirky, if you feel like it. They love it here.
2. Entertain your audience
I hate to break it to you, but if you are a person of few words and feel uncomfortable interacting with other people, this might not be the right career for you. Twitch hosts lots and lots of superb gamers who have impressive audiences. But their gaming skills aren’t the only thing that makes them popular. It’s their ability to entertain, to make those viewers stay glued to their screens that keeps them afloat. Some sense of humor won’t hurt.
3. Be consistent
People won’t stay for a hodgepodge of videos popping up at random times. Being predictable is not always a bad thing, you know. Keep to your main theme, schedule your streams for certain times. And one more thing: don’t forget to announce them beforehand. Use all social networks you’ve got access to. Don’t give your audience any chance to miss this information.
4. Make some friends
Connecting with other streamers, talking to them, and collaborating with them can go a long way. First of all, because it can give you some nice perspective. More experienced streamers can give you some very useful tips. Second of all, it will attract more viewers.
5. Interact with your audience
There’s one thing you always have to remember as a Twitch streamer. Your audience is everything. Treat it with respect. Talk to your viewers.
During each stream, you will see a chat window with people viewing your content. Your task is to make them feel comfortable here. Answer their questions, react to what they say, laugh with them.
Here’s a small tip. Chances are you’ll see some trolls and you’ll see people criticizing you. It’s the Internet, after all, what else did you expect? Accept constructive criticisms without hostility and resentment. It can actually help you grow and become better. And trolls? Just ignore them.
6. Don’t fret too much about the quality of your equipment.
Not at the start, anyway. Yes, many streamers have tons of expensive high-end equipment that helps them add all kinds of bells and whistles to their streams. This doesn’t mean that you can’t be a streamer without things like these.
Start with what you have and focus on growing your audience rather than getting expensive tsatskes.
7. Have fun!
Having fun is an important part of everything you do on Twitch. If you don’t feel like you enjoy what you do here, if it all seems tedious and bleak, you won’t be successful. So make sure you do what you love and love what you do.
Why is Twitch so popular?
Like I said earlier, Twitches attracts a very specific demographic. And by the looks of it, this demographic isn’t too small. Twitch is doing extremely well and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to lose momentum any time soon.
“But why?”, I can hear you ask, my layman reader. “Why on earth is it more entertaining to watch someone play a video game than playing yourself?” Well, for the same reason you enjoy watching sports events sitting on your couch instead of going to a stadium and trying it out yourself.
That’s not the only reason, though. Watching live webcasts is not only entertaining but also educational. It’s a much easier way to learn to do something than reading tutorials. Besides, it’s not exactly a news flash that video games are expensive. So watching live streaming showing some new video game gameplay can actually help you decide if you want to spend your hard-earned money on it or not.
If video streaming is something that you like to do, Twitch can certainly be your cup of tea. And it would definitely be awesome if you can monetize your skills as well, right? Just take this last advice: don’t go to Twitch to make money. Try it to enjoy yourself, to connect with the community. Let whatever earnings you receive be a nice bonus for the good job that you do.