Category: streaming video

Community drama threatens Twitch influencers. Are marketers at risk?

twitch influencers

By Kiki Schirr, {grow} Contributing Columnist

A few years ago, I started reporting on the red-hot live stream video game channel, Twitch. It was bought by Amazon in 2014 for nearly a billion dollars. and was growing at an astronomical rate. The popularity of streaming video game play was catching on outside of Asia, where competitive eSports filled arenas. Twitch influencers were on fire and one of the most exciting new marketing opportunities on the planet.

Just a few years later, many Twitch influencers and brand sponsors are wondering if the platform is crumbling.

Let’s look at some of the problems and risks of this promising platform.

1. Twitch influencers on the move

A significant crack has appeared in the streaming fortress: Twitch influencers are leaving for YouTube.

Activision Blizzard, the game developer behind Twitch-staples like Call of Duty, Overwatch, and Hearthstone, announced that it had signed an exclusive eSports league contract with YouTube. So while individual streamers can still play these games on Twitch, the arena-filling professional competitions will be aired exclusively on YouTube.

Some news outlets suggest that Twitch had voluntarily opted not to renew their exclusive two-year contract with Activision Blizzard. Whether it was by Amazon’s choice or not, YouTube’s new contract is another in a series of recent losses for Twitch.

Several prominent live streamers have left Twitch over the last year, including Jack ‘CouRage’ Dunlop‘s exclusive contract with YouTube and Ninja’s departure for Microsoft’s Mixer.

2. Gender wars

Certain parts of the Twitch gaming community have become a cesspool of misogynistic conduct.

Tensions often run high between genders as men and women face unique challenges on the platform. Men who stream on Twitch rant about “bikini streamers” who they say rely on appearance and skimpy clothing to boost viewership.

Some of Twitch’s most notorious casters have responded with harassment, including misogynistic rants that refer to female streamers as “sluts.”

One of the most notable rants occurred last November when a viral video of a caster named Trainwrecks spread around Twitter. Trainwrecks is heard in a video talking about taking the platform back from “bikini streamers” and returning Twitch to its former glory days.

Women can be targeted for persistent harassment by organized groups of Twitch vigilantes.

3. Twitch community standards are weak

Twitch has always had defined community standards. However, Twitch has never defined community standards well.

While any community that features user-generated content (UGC) always has growing pains related to the need for moderation, Twitch is notorious for vague rules and seemingly-random suspensions.

One woman streamer complained that she’d been suspended while wearing a tank top and (short) shorts on her stream. Her outfit didn’t violate the rules, which said if she could wear it to the mall she’d be fine. While her outfit was perfectly fine at the mall, it wasn’t fine for moderators, despite written rules to the contrary.

Another example of inconsistent punishment: Recently a male streamer ranting about women was suspended for five days during the same week that a woman received only a 24-hour suspension for streaming explicitly sexual content.

If you were open to conspiracy theories (as many Internet denizens are), it would be easy to suspect that Twitch deliberately leaves these policies vague. Even after rule updates in 2018, Twitch community standards seem open to nearly any interpretation.

Twitch influencers

Ice Poseidon

Streamers also objected to the company’s position that Twitch influencers are responsible for the actions of their fans. This was likely spurred by the 2017 airplane bomb threat called in by a fan impersonating then-Twitch streamer Ice Poseidon.

Twitch used the bomb threat as the final straw in Ice Poseidon’s permanent Twitch ban. While a permanent ban was likely wise given his previous on-air antics, Ice Poseidon often protests that Twitch punished the victim for the crime. This accusation seems true.

Twitch influencers — Should marketers flee?

While the drama stirs on Twitch, marketers should pause and reconsider whether Twitch influencers remain an effective source of brand marketing.

While Twitch streamers spend an enormous amount of time in front of their fans, sponsoring influencers who could be suspended or platform-hop at any time is risky. Toxic in-fighting between streamers and the bleed of talent to new apps can’t be predicted.

If you wish to work with Twitch influencers, remember to add a clause about being allowed to change payment in the event of a drop in viewership due to a platform switch.

You might also want to add, no matter how old-fashioned it might sound, a morality contingency to your contract. While in the past these morality clauses penalized adultery or crime, these days it might be better to protect your brand from overt displays of misogyny, racism, or lewd acts for financial gain.

Do you have any wisdom to share when it comes to influencer marketing in the gaming world? Have you worked with Twitch or another live streaming platform? Feel free to drop advice for fellow {grow} community members in the comment section below. I hope you’ve found this to be an interesting follow-up to past articles on using Twitch for social media marketing!

KikiSchirrKiki Schirr is a freelance marketer who enjoys absorbing new trends within the tech scene. Her favorite games are turn-based strategy PC games like Sid Meier’s Civilization series. After Civ IV nearly interfered with her undergraduate GPA, Kiki has been forced to use computer time-tracking apps or avoid new Civ releases entirely. She is most easily reached via Twitter.

Illustration courtesy Unsplash.com

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Why there is no first mover advantage in social media

first mover advantage

One of my readers left this comment the other day as she advocated that you should establish a foothold in every emerging social media channel — a first mover advantage:

“If you’re among the first on a new social network, it will be easier for you to become big there, compared to arriving there after everyone else. Assuming the network survives, you’ll be set up for success.”

This seems to make sense, and we have certainly seen this “first mover advantage” play out in many marketing strategies over the years.

But today I will take a contrary position and offer a more realistic strategy when it comes to approaching social media channels.

The impossible risk of first mover advantage

Here’s the first challenge to a first mover strategy — finding the energy to do it all!

Here’s a popular chart that illustrates some of the most popular social media networks (please don’t strain your eyes!):

first mover advantage

Don’t even bother trying to read it or understand it. I’m just making the point that there is a lot of stuff out there.

Trying to keep up with it all and place the right business bet is hazardous duty.

An example … One of my friends bet the ranch on a streaming video channel called Meerkat. He became an advocate and spoke at Meerkat events. He wore Meerkat t-shirts. He pushed tons of content on the platform and indeed became the undisputed Meerkat stud.

In less than a year, Meerkat was dead. His content went poof. His status evaporated. He had dedicated a good portion of his life to a social media channel that is now a memory.

There are not too many people (or businesses) that can afford to make that mistake over and over with every new platform that comes along.

No focus equals no excellence

Challenge number two: If you’re trying to be everywhere, you will be great nowhere.

There is only one way to stand out on any social media channel — earn an audience through consistently valuable and entertaining content.

Unless you have a huge team of people working on that for you, there is simply no practical way to maintain an excellent presence everywhere.

A better strategy is to be superior in one or two carefully-selected places.

Nobody cares

Eventually, the best content wins, not the person who was there first.

Let’s look at TikTok as an example. This is the social media rage right now. Simply being first means nothing if you’re not relevant, interesting, entertaining and superior according to the high school kids who love it there.

Nobody cares that you were there first. Why would they?

Be a fast follower

Here’s a better strategy: Let other people be the pioneers and figure things out. Then, be a fast follower.

In the history of business, the first movers almost never win.

One small example — the Apple iPod.

The iPod was one of the most successful product introductions in history but it wasn’t the first portable MP3 player in the market, or even the second or third. Apple let the others make mistakes and build a market and then came in with something that was more relevant and superior.

I think this same philosophy works in the social media space, too.

Being a first mover and maintaing a presence everywhere on social media sounds like a good strategy, but honestly, I can’t think of any practical reason to do that.

Think of that Meerkat example — It would have been a lot smarter to wait to see if it actually worked out before going all-in!

So when it comes to social media, take the first mover advantage advice with a grain of salt. Be patient and place your bets in the channels that emerge as important and relevant to your customers. The fast follower wins.

Keynote speaker Mark SchaeferMark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world. Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

Illustration courtesy of Unsplash.com

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