If you’re looking to promote your game, product, or business through a Twitch streamer, reading this will keep you from wasting your product or money on the wrong influencer.
Firstly, is it even worth it?
Ninja was paid a million dollars to stream Apex Legends. Turtle Beach pay Dr Disrespect to wear their headsets. These sponsors are only too happy to part with the cash because they know these influencers will bring a massive return on investment. And, these are only two of many widely publicised sponsorship deals. A virtual drop in the ocean of the sponsorship activity that is currently happening every day.
What you can take away from this is that it can be very lucrative if you choose the right streamer for your target market, but you don’t need to go after the big fish. I’ve witnessed sponsorship success first hand, almost daily, on much smaller streamer’s channels. Viewers are regularly spending money on games/products that they previously wouldn’t have even considered – and this is as a direct result of the streamer showcasing it. Besides straight up sales, many more viewers are simply influenced with positive brand awareness, which often results in sales later down the road. It’s the gift that keeps giving.
The streaming world is wide and varied enough to suit your marketing budget, and with up to 30k new Twitch user accounts created daily, there’s any kind of audience you can think of.
As a potential sponsor, the first prerequisite is having a reasonable audience size. No warm bodies = zero ROI (return on investment).
At any given minute of the day there’s over 2 million people watching channels on Twitch, but there’s also over a million channels to watch. That means there’s a lot of channels out there with 1 or less viewers. If you don’t do your research (and I will show you exactly how), you could easily end up sponsoring one of these dead channels and effectively wasting your money or product.
Number of Followers means almost nothing
A streamer can easily buy thousands of streamers with the click of a button, and a few dollars. I’m not going to link to any of the websites that provide these devious services, but if you have any doubts, just Google/DuckDuckGo the phrase ‘Buy Twitch Followers’.
If you’re like me and you like to see the good in people and give them the benefit of the doubt, you naively think streamers aren’t using these services. Sadly they are. I know because I’ve seen many small streamers gaining thousands of followers in one session. Here’s an example of a streamer who, at the time was averaging about 14 viewers per stream, magically went from 6 thousand followers to 13 thousand followers in 1 session.
This streamer’s first 6000 viewers were gained in big unnatural jumps too, and this really isn’t an isolated case. I see it all the time. Very occasionally, it’s not even the streamer’s fault. I’ve seen viewers on streams offer to buy followers for the channel as a means of brown-nosing, and sometimes go ahead with the purchase before the streamer can even protest.
So, as a potential sponsor, you would only look at the follower numbers to ensure that the streamer actually has some. Obviously, if the streamer has less than 500 followers, but you see some promise in them, you can probably negotiate a much lower sponsorship deal. But the bottom line here is not to be wowed by a huge follower count because often it’s thousands of bots/fake accounts, nothing more.
Being a Partnered streamer means almost nothing
Once a Twitch streamer achieves affiliate status (very easy to get), the next milestone they will be looking at is partnership. Until very recently, Twitch required, among other things, that the Twitch steamer achieved an average of 75 viewers per a period of 30 days to be able to apply for partnership. The 75 average is also easy to achieve with the click of a button and a few dollars. Not only can you buy followers, but you can also buy viewers.
The table above shows a suspicious spike in viewers for a particular streamer which pushed his monthly average to 90 or so. During this time, he applied for, and was awarded partnership. He’s back down to an average of 20 viewers/stream but retains his partner status.
It’s probably underhanded behaviour like the above that’s prompted Twitch to recently abandon the 75 viewer threshold and rather consider applicants on a case by case basis. Still though, they are blindly focussed on the wrong numbers. They now also claim that they look at follower counts of the applicant’s other social networks. Again, it is even easier to buy Twitter, Instagram, etc followers. So their application process is still flawed.
The bottom line here is not to be wowed by Twitch partnership status because many ‘partners’ are sitting with less viewers than some honest affiliates who chose not to game the system, and rather put in the hard work of growing their channel organically.
Average Viewers (over a long period) is where it’s at
As we’ve seen above, viewers can be bought, but usually these result in unnatural spikes in traffic over a short time. Buying viewers is not something the average scammer streamer will maintain. It’s going to get pricey after a while and because the viewers aren’t warm bodies, they aren’t getting subscriptions, donations, and bits back from their community to offset the cost.
For this reason, it’s usually a good indicator of a healthy audience if the streamer has maintained a good average viewership for several months, with a modest steady growth curve like this:
How to check these stats
You can easily check this for any streamer in the following way:
- Go to SullyGnome.com
- Type the streamers name in the search bar at the top, and select them from the resultant dropdown.
- By default, stats are set to 3 days. Choose 180 days or more to see a more overall picture of the channel’s health.
Audience size isn’t everything. For best results (biggest ROI and effective brand awareness), you should sponsor a streamer whose audience matches your target market.
The interests of the audience
Recently one of my streamer friends was sponsored by a local pc retailer with one of their products – an energy drink marketed at gamers, particularly esports athletes. All good and well, except my friend has an art stream. She herself is not a competitive gamer, and neither is her audience, so there was only mild (probably feigned) enthusiasm for the product on her part, and polite response from her community.
She has a decent sized audience, so perhaps they made a few sales to offset the cost of sponsoring her, but had they rather approached a competitive gaming streamer, even with a smaller audience, the target market and channel viewership would have aligned beautifully.
You don’t need to hire a marketing professional to think that one through. Basic critical thinking would suffice.
The location of the audience
If your product is a locally delivered one, and thus irrelevant on a global scale, you should sponsor a local streamer because chances are they have a higher percentage of locals watching them. This isn’t always the case, but unfortunately, to my knowledge, there aren’t any freely available stats that show viewer location for a particular streamer. If you know of such a tool, please hit up the comments.
Streamers themselves, will have this information though (provided to them by Twitch in their Twitch channel stats), and you could ask them to screenshot those stats as a precursor to sponsorship negotiations.
If you’re seriously considering sponsoring a streamer, it’s good business practice to firstly gauge their own reaction to your product, and also how they behave on stream.
Attitude towards your product
My partner once told me about a Dr Disrespect stream he watched where Dr D was paid to stream a game, but absolutely hated it and wasn’t shy about running it down. Not all streamers will be honest if the sponsored product isn’t to their liking, but it’s a risk that needs to be factored in. You might want to have some sort of agreement in place that if the streamer does not end up enjoying your product, they contractually need to say very little about it, rather than bad mouthing it, and you can take the constructive criticism in private.
Attitude towards the community
The other consideration is what type of person the streamer is, and do you want them, effectively being a brand ambassador if they generally behave like a twat? If your target market is twats, then of course, but otherwise, you might want to pull that sponsorship and give it to someone who upholds your values a bit more. The only way to tell, is to watch them. It’s fiscally irresponsible to just give a sponsorship away without actually watching at least one or two of the VODs or live streams. This is also the best way to observe first hand whether the audience is real and how effectively the streamer engages with them.
I trust the above will be useful information to you, as a sponsor, and hope that you find your perfect match. As a side note, I’d like to point out we sometimes get sponsors contacting us (strmr.co.za) because they want to get in touch with a particular streamer listed in our South African streamer directory, but we do not give out personal details. Please contact them directly either via their channel’s private chat, or social media links.
- Twitch Stats: twitchinsights.net
- Twitch Stats: twitchtracker.com
- Twitch Stats: SullyGnome
- Twitch Partner Requirements 2020