I’ve seen varying statements from casual streamers, those pursuing partnership, and even from Partners themselves debating if followers or follow count matters on Twitch. It seems that Twitch does not place much value on your follower count when considering you for Partnership, preferring to study your branding, uniqueness of your content, growth, and especially your chat activity (Twitch doesn’t even mention followers on their Partner Application Page). A high follower count also does not guarantee an active chat or higher concurrent viewership and I sense that many smaller streamers (both prospective partners and casual hobbyists) don’t want to think of Twitch as a “numbers game”. If Twitch doesn’t care about your follower numbers, it doesn’t guarantee a successful stream, and efforts to gain followers don’t necessarily convert to regular viewers, does your follower count matter at all?? (Spoiler alert, follows DO matter.)
Being a successful influencer (which is what you are if you are involved enough on Twitch to read this) has two components. The first is about eye balls, how many eye balls can you reach with relative ease? The second part is engagement, is your content interesting, unique, or otherwise adding “value” to a viewer’s Twitch experience to an extent that it can solicit an action from a viewer? Your follower count helps you reach eye balls and is proof of your content’s ability to get viewers to take an action. Let’s take a look at these two components.
Followers are more likely to find and view your content in the future.
How likely are people to see your content? How easy is it for them to find it? Followers are going to be presented with opportunities to view your content every time you go live. They are much, much more likely than the average viewer to return to your stream, why?
Twitch is designed to direct people to the content that they want to see. Twitch assumes that you want to see the content of channels that you have followed (duh) and so it puts them right in front of you more frequently than other content. Look in the top left of your Twitch homepage (or the image below). On the left sidebar you have a “Followed Channels” section and above that a “Following” button that will show you every channel that you follow if it is currently live. You want to be in this sidebar on as many people’s home pages as possible.
Many viewers are going to use these navigation tools to find content to enjoy. If they follow, your stream is showing up in their sidebar and on their “following” page, if they don’t, your stream is lost to the thousands and thousands of other streams on Twitch. A follower is much more likely to find you again in the future. Keep encouraging folks to follow in any way you can, they may become a valued member of your community or chat in the future!
Your follower count proves that you can solicit an action from your audience.
This point is a bit more abstract. A high follower count, especially relative to your unique viewer count, proves that you can get people to take action. It shows that viewers didn’t just come and go. They engaged with you or your content to an extent that it compelled them to press the follow button! This is what Twitch is all about, engagement, it’s the secret sauce that sets being live apart from pre-recorded VOD.
Getting viewers to press the follow button consistently is an important step for a small streamer. If you aren’t comfortable with asking for money or subscribers yet (or never intend to), asking for follows in a classy way can help build your confidence and channel. It is also excellent validation of your content. If someone presses the follow button they obviously see value in your content or they would just ignore you and move on. Who cares if they needed a little nudge to do it? The average non-streaming viewer may not realize how important follows are to a streamer so nudge away! Ask for those follows! Worried that those followers will never come back? It’s possible that you may never see them in chat again even if they follow but you are guaranteed to never see them again if they don’t follow. Get that engagement rate up! Get those follows!
The Verdict: Do followers matter on Twitch? YES
YES THEY FRIGGIN DO! Buffing up that follower count allows the Twitch navigation tools to do some promotional work for you and increases the chances of a viewer returning in the future! It also validates your content, shows that you are producing something that viewers see as valuable and worthwhile, proves that you can entice your audience to take action, and asking for follows can serve as training wheels as you build up to asking for subscribers in the future!
A few other jumbled thoughts on follower counts and how to use them.
- It’s a great way to set goals! In the past I would target 1 new follower a day (even if I didn’t go live) along with other goals for unique viewer count. It’s fun to meet those small goals and it kind of “gamifies” your broadcasting experience.
- A high follower count is good for brand image. Other viewers who do not follow a streamer, myself included, will favorably perceive a stream with a high follow count. Everyone else is following so it must be legit right???
- Think of followers holistically across your entire brand. I love Twitter and I view it as part of my Twitch audience. The same ideas mentioned above for Twitch can be applied to other social media platforms where your brand exists. Remember, it’s about how many eye balls you can reach with relative ease. Followers matter.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article, please reach out in the comments or on Twitter!