Have you ever heard of Twitch? If you haven't, you haven't been paying enough attention. But never fear! We'll hit some highlights for you about the massive streaming site, from the early days to Twitch Plays Pokemon. We'll also tell you how it can help you reach a very niche and attentive audience, by showing you how brands have used it to their advantage. It's well worth knowing whatever you can about Twitch, especially since more people on average watch Twitch than most cable channels.
What is Twitch?
Twitch started in 2005 as justin.tv, with the goal to be a way to create your own reality show, also known as "lifecasting." (If you've seen the movies The Truman Show or EdTV, you get the idea.) Visitors to justin.tv didn't love the reality show concept, but wanted to know how they could create their own streams. justin.tv pivoted to video game streaming and officially became Twitch in 2011, a move that worked out pretty well in their favor. Now more than 55 million people watch video streams on Twitch a month and now only falls behind Netflix, Apple, and Google in regards to internet traffic. They were purchased by Amazon for $970 million dollars in August of 2014, which seems like quite a bit until you hear that some analysts think that within five years, Twitch could be worth between $5-$20 billion.
Twitch is essentially live streaming of playing video games, which to some, may sound boring and uninteresting, but is actually incredibly popular with younger audiences. Millions of people tune in to watch their favorite streamers play Fortnite, Player Unknown's Battlegrounds, Overwatch, or Madden. They order gear from their favorite streamers. Some even participate in the game. One prime example of this was the "Twitch Plays Pokemon" phenomenon. No, it's not a new version of Pokemon Go. You can read more about it here, but the idea essentially was that players could input commands in Twitch's chat feature that would make the character move, pick a Pokemon, fight others. But the problem is that when you have a million people having input on what happens in a game, it can lead to disastrous - and hilarious - results.
Twitch is huge and is only going to get bigger. So now the question is: why should you pay attention to it?
Why You Should Pay Attention to Twitch
The simple answer is because it's in your best interest to. You have a dedicated, specific audience who is watching streams and who are hyper loyal to their favorite streamers. If you team with the right person, and understand who you're targeting, it could mean incredible success for you. But make sure you know how to speak the language, because if you come off as phony, the internet is not very forgiving and your brand will be remembered....in a bad way.
A good example of a brand that used Twitch to its advantage was KFC. Yup, that's right. Kentucky Fried Chicken. It doesn't seem like the most obvious fit for a video game streaming service, does it? But the thing is...everyone loves to eat. And when you're playing video games, you want something easy to eat and more importantly, something fast so you can get back to your game. They partnered with four specific streamers who were streaming the game Player Unknown's Battlegrounds, a game where a victory message appears whenever you win that reads "winner winner chicken dinner." Whenever that flashed on the screen during the livestream, viewers could use a special KFC emote to have a chance to win KFC gift cards.
Just because your brand doesn't seem the most obvious to use Twitch to their advantage, you can still find ways to connect that may be super successful. Think of a promotion that could tie back to the most popular games or most popular streamers. You could even get into the streaming game yourself. Have a dean that's super into baseball? Have a Twitch stream where he plays MLB The Show against a student. There's even more ways to use Twitch to your advantage now that Twitch has launched Twitch IRL which is a way to livestream more than just video games.
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