Marketing To Your Tribe

Sitting on a plane, being able to write on my blog… technology is a beautiful thing, isn’t it?

I’m flying back from Chicago (by way of Charleston, SC) to Nashville. I had the opportunity to speak on Gamification at two very awesome (and very different) events: Digital Summit Chicago and Type-A Parent & Lifestyle Blogging Conference. One for marketers and brands, another for the influencers that we rely on for those brands’ recommendations.

I use conferences as a chance to look inward – almost as much as I use them for networking and outward growth. It’s always great to take in a few sessions and refresh myself on what’s up and coming in the digital landscape.

With the new site design finished and settled, I’m finally getting a chance around the hustle and bustle of work to figure out what it is I really want to do with it. 

There’s so many things to choose from:

  • Web Design and Development
  • Marketing and Digital Strategy
  • Ministry (Specifically, KidsMin)
  • Gaming and Game Streaming

I’ll admit: the last one has me struggling just a little bit. The idea of streaming games – probably to Twitch – is exciting and fun for me. I’ve been an avid gamer for as long as I can remember. And with my background in multimedia (a lot of my college life was spent in front of a MacBook editing video) I’ve been resurfacing that passion in the form of live videos on Facebook and YouTube.

Thoughts on Twitch and More

This week I sat down and really thought about where I was investing my time, and where my ‘tribe’ is hanging out. I’m a marketing guy; my people hang out on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. They make videos, posts, pictures, and share them to better their own brand (or someone else’s).

Twitch is the outlier network for me. As I sat down this week to think about thinks, I started realizing that Twitch, as a marketing avenue, has some serious issues – a few things that doesn’t sit right with the ‘marketing’ side of me. 

Twitch Marks The Spot

Twitch is what I call a destination social network. It’s niche; it does one thing and it does that thing really well. People go to the site to watch other people play video games and (during that stream) interact with the streamer and their community. And Twitch does have that part of it on lockdown – you won’t find a better platform for someone wanting to exclusively stream games and build a brand for themselves.

That said, Twitch is not a site you go to for ‘content discovery’. Large streamers with active viewers always rise to the top, but for new/upcoming streamers it’s very hard to stand out amongst the crowds.

There are a few things you can do to search for streams to watch –  mainly by game. But that’s flawed. Twitch encourages people to stream multiple games (to be a ‘variety’ streamer). Why then is the ability to find new streamers limited to the game they’re currently playing? It’s a backwards answer to the question they’re asking.

Breaking Out Of The Silo

Twitch makes it near impossible to grow a community on Twitch alone. Streamers, then, turn to other existing options: Discord, Facebook, Twitter, and even other multimedia platforms like YouTube and Instagram. 

Those other networks are variety networks. Even though it may only serve one or two purposes (Instagram, for example), the subject matter is varied. I can see all sorts of different subject matters looking at Instagram. 

People looking to continue their community ‘off-stream’ can do so relatively easily on those networks. People are (usually) already on other networks, and so extending the connection from Twitch to Instagram is an easy ask.

It’s absolutely not that simple in the other direction.

Since Twitch is a destination site for gaming, it’s a very hard sell for me to ask people who aren’t already on Twitch to go there just for the purpose of watching/following/interacting. Chances are, for the most part, if someone is going to watch a streamer, they are already doing it.

YOU MUST CONSTRUCT ADDITIONAL PYLONS!

Which brings me to another pain point: ‘resources’ on Twitch are scarce. Someone on Twitch is there because they are watching a streamer already, usually. Time is a very precious commodity, then; since there are only so many hours in the day, every streamer is fighting over the same ‘pool’ of viewing minutes. 

And since there are few outside / fresh resources are coming in, that scarcity makes it hard for new and upcoming streamers to break out without exponentially larger amounts of work. Any existing member of Twitch that switches to another stream is taking viewing minutes away from another streamer.

I Actually Still Like Twitch… No, Really!

I know that a lot of this post seems like I’m hating on Twitch, but that’s not the case. I love Twitch – chances are if I’m working I have one monitor open to one of the streamers that I follow. It’s a great ‘passive’ medium for me. It’s very similar to Podcasts, in that regard; it’s something that I consume while I’m doing something else (and if I hear something that catches my attention, I’ll even interact!)

My issue comes in the fact that – from a marketing standpoint – Twitch has a few things that are incomplete, lacking, or even missing altogether. And I think if we really want to bring game streaming to the mainstream (and I do, because I enjoy watching AND streaming) then Twitch needs to become something that is a community in and of itself.

So, What About Mitch?

I’m still going to stream on Twitch, but my schedule there is going to severely back off. Like I said, I still love the idea of streaming there, but I want to use it as more of a ‘special occasion’ or ‘one a week’ thing. Why? Because that’s not where my tribe is. 

My tribe is marketing people, developers, designers… people that I want to have community with doing all sorts of things. Playing video games and chatting about marketing stuff? Sure, why not? I know a few other people who do that (on Facebook Live) and are very successful.

Now, this is what works for me. If you want games to be the Alpha and Omega of everything you do online, then you will find Twitch is going to do everything you need.

I’ll continue to go on Twitch. I’ll continue to stream on Twitch, but right now for people who want to use games as a part of an overall strategy (versus the major/only part), it’s just not the marketing network it needs to be.


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