Lessons in content marketing from the superstars of Twitch.tv

In bedrooms, basements and in-home studios across the world sit a legion of the most dedicated and passionate content creators you’ve ever seen. This is the world of Twitch.tv, and its inhabitants have something very important to teach you about content marketing.

At Radix I’m used to working with brands that understand and respect the value of great content. But at home, there’s another bunch of amazing content creators that I avidly follow—and for these guys and girls, their content is their brand.

For those of you with lives, Twitch.tv is a livestreaming and video site dedicated to gaming content. Its broadcasters pull in millions of viewers from across the globe every single day, showcasing a wide variety of content with something to suit every kind of gamer.

Most just do it for fun, but for a select few, it’s their job—and it’s a pretty well-paying one too. With Amazon acquiring Twitch for just shy of a billion dollars in 2014, there’s no denying that there’s now huge money in the streaming platform.

Twitch’s broadcasters earn money in two ways: by running advertisements during their broadcasts, and through voluntary donations from viewers. To gain a significant amount of either, a broadcaster needs to pull in and hold the attention of thousands of simultaneous viewers. Their content is the only tool they have to make that happen.

On Twitch it’s simple; you either make amazing content and rise above the rest, or produce average content and sink into obscurity. With that in mind, I think there’s a huge amount that we as content marketers can learn from the Twitch.tv elite.

What does it take to become a great Twitch broadcaster?

Every successful broadcaster has a unique star quality that sets them apart from the rest, but the most popular content creators and streamers on Twitch generally fall into one of three categories:

First up are the seasoned professionals. These gamers play at the highest possible levels and will often be ranked among the very best in the world in their respective games. In most cases they focus on playing a single game for long periods of time, learning everything there is to know about it.

The appeal of their content is clear—they have deep, specialised, expert knowledge that others simply don’t have. Viewers tune in because they want to see the games they love performed to the highest possible standard, and learn how they can replicate that performance themselves.

Secondly, you’ve got the enigmatic entertainers. The big pull of their content is their personalities. They’re rarely high-level experts in the games they play, but their personalities carry their content and earn them legions of loyal fans. They might be very funny and make the game more entertaining to watch, or just be eccentric characters with over-the-top mannerisms that audiences find amusing.

The final group can broadly be categorised as community leaders. These broadcasters focus on interacting with their viewers, and enabling those viewers to interact with one another. Fans gain a sense of identity and belonging from following them, often inspiring extremely strong long-term loyalty that keeps them coming back for more.

So why should you care about them?

So, why should you care about all this? Well, I think that each persona represented within the ranks of Twitch’s top broadcasters can teach us something extremely valuable about high quality content creation and curation.

The seasoned professionals show us that if you have fresh insight to share on a topic that others are interested in, your content will naturally attract a lot of attention. And, once you establish yourself as an expert that’s constantly pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in your industry, people will eagerly check back to see what you’ve been sharing.

The enigmatic entertainers show us the value of adopting a unique tone of voice and unreservedly pouring your personality into your content. Don’t just speak like a human being, speak like a human being that stands out from the crowd and has a clear, confident identity—that’s what your audience will really latch onto.

Finally, the community leaders show us just how valuable it can be to nurture a community around your content. When you’re ready to share something, use your chosen social platforms to engage with your readers, build conversations, and even allow them to shape your future content efforts. If your goal to create content that gets people talking, don’t forget that you need to be a central part of that conversation too.

By their powers combined…

As content marketers, we don’t need to fit into a single one of those personas—we can take on the best characteristics of all three in every piece of content we create.

It’s pretty straightforward stuff really:

  • Focus your content on the things you know better than anyone else, share ideas and opinions that will cement you as a respected expert in the eyes of your audience, and turn your own experts into the stars of your content (reading our ebook on how to interview them is a great place to start)
  • Pour your personality into every piece you create, so that your content is as instantly recognisable and distinct as your brand itself
  • Facilitate conversations around your content, work to build a community of loyal followers, and be present in all of the discussions that you spark

By looking at content marketing through the webcam lens of a Twitch.tv streamer, we can take things back to basics, while getting a unique and interesting new perspective on what really makes content great today.

At first glance, it’s a world that appears starkly different to the one we operate in as B2B marketers. But, once you scratch the surface, the similarities are remarkable.

In Twitch, we have a world of committed and passionate content creators that pour everything they have into making a name for themselves and standing out in a ruthlessly saturated and competitive environment. I guess it’s up to you to ask yourself just how different that sounds from the industry you operate in.

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