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Jonas leaned back in his chair, staring at his screen in disbelief. His social media ads had failed.
A few weeks before, he had launched the beta for his first game, Startup Company, and planned to use the ads to drive pre-release sales, but to no avail. Frustrated and out $100, Jonas started looking for another marketing method — one that could successfully generate the excitement and sales he needed for Startup Company’s launch. And that’s when he found influencer marketing.
His plan was simple: gather a list of YouTube and Twitch influencers, send them free Startup Company keys, cross his fingers, and hope they play it on stream/video. After hours of searching for and sending 500+ emails, Jonas waited.
The game took off.
Within two weeks of its launch, hundreds of influencers were playing Startup Company and sharing it with their viewers. His success began to snowball — as more people starting playing the game, more content creators started making videos about it.
With the help of those creators, Startup Company sold over 50,000 copies within its first two weeks on Steam.
Jonas had made a hit.
After seeing successes like Startup Company’s, many game devs have begun looking at Twitch influencer marketing as a means of spreading their game across the gaming community.
The only problem?
They have no idea how to start.
The world of Twitch influencer marketing is frightening. But by educating yourself on the platform and learning the proper methods for conducting sponsorships, you can use Twitch to achieve your sales goals just like Jonas.
But before you do anything….
1. You must formulate detailed goals.
To succeed on Twitch, you have to know why you want to work with influencers in the first place.
Are you trying to…
- Drive beta users for QA testing?
- Collect feedback?
- Generate hype around your launch?
- Develop a tight-knit community?
- Promote a new patch/feature?
- Or blast your game to as many people has possible?
Be sure to set your goals early. They’ll provide a framework for the rest of the campaign you’ll build shortly.
2. Next, set a budget.
How much money can you realistically spend promoting your game?
Your budget should reflect your goals — if you want to maximize awareness around your launch, you’ll have to hire more influencers than someone looking to drive a few beta users.
We’ll talk more about promotion strategies and pricing shortly. But for now, go ahead and map your available funds.
Keep in mind: Twitch influencer marketing is flexible. While I do recommend you do so, you don’t always have to pay streamers to promote your games. Whether you’re a bootstrap indie dev with little marketing experience or part of a professional team, there’s a place for you on Twitch.
3. Now brainstorm promotion ideas and their requirements.
Many game devs think there’s only one way to work with Twitch influencers:
“Send ’em a key, hope they play it on stream, and collect profits if they do.”
Don’t get me wrong — that strategy will work occasionally (just look at Jonas). But if you want to run long-lasting campaigns that help you reach your specific goals, you’ll have to go deeper.
There are thousands of ways to promote your game on Twitch — too many to list. But here are a few to jog your mind:
- Sponsoring an event between streamers from the same Twitch community (e.g. the “Binding of Isaac” game directory) would work great for developing your game’s community within a tight-knit group.
- Paying a large streamer to play your game for 1–2 hours would allow you to generate brand awareness, hype an upcoming launch, and/or increase sales. You could even give them a discount code to share with their viewers if your goals are sales focused.
- Offering social media promotion to streamers in exchange for on-stream promotion could be a great way to generate buzz on a low budget.
On top of promotion ideas, you’ll also need to plan the smaller aspects of your promotions. For instance, do you want your streamer(s) to:
- Place your branded graphic in their info section?
A streamer’s “info section” is a small section below their stream where they place links to social media pages, gear lists, and most importantly, sponsored graphics (like in the image above).
- Post timed discount codes in their chat? (Most chat bots have this capability, so ask your streamer which one they prefer.)
- Promote sponsored content on their social media channels (e.g. post to Twitter announcing your partnership)?
This is your time to get creative. The more engaging, entertaining, and easy your promotion ideas, the faster you’ll reach your goals.
Just be careful when planning your promotion requirements — the more you add, the higher you’ll have to pay a streamer to complete them.
4. Gather a list of streamers.
After you’ve set your goals, defined a budget, and planned a promotion strategy, it’s time to find the streamers who will spearhead your campaign.
Streamer delivering sponsored content to their viewers, circa 2018.
…but before you start searching, it’s important you understand some key Twitch influencer marketing metrics:
- Followers: How many users have chosen to see a streamer’s broadcast in their “Following” list.
- Average Concurrent Viewership: The average number of viewers in a streamer’s channel.
- Follower Growth: How many followers a streamer is gaining daily. This number should always be positive.
- Monthly impressions: The number of unique visits a streamer had on their broadcasts throughout the month.
- Engagements: The number of chat messages sent during a given stream or over the period of days or months. The higher the engagements, the better.
ACV is the main determinant for how much money you have to pay a streamer for sponsored content — as their ACV increases, so must your budget (generally).
Your budget and your goals will determine which metrics you pay the most attention to when finding streamers. If your‘re trying to develop your game’s community, engagement rates will be your most important metric. If you’re looking to generate brand awareness, however, ACV will be your most important metric.
There are a few ways you can discover new streamers and measure their analytics:
1. Do it manually.
Head to Twitch, click on a game, and start watching streamers that pique your interest.
Measure how many viewers they receive on a daily basis and how many followers they gain. Observe how active and positive their chat rooms are. Determine whether you like their personalities. If everything matches up with your goals and your budget, you’ll know the streamer is a good fit to promote your game.
This method is pretty monotonous, but it can work if you’re just starting out.
2. Use a tool.
Twinge.tv is great for discovering new streamers and viewing their metrics.
Or, if you’re looking for something more powerful, PowerSpike is a good option. It has all the metric measurement features of Twinge and more. The platform also allows you to post a “campaign” to a marketplace where streamers can apply (like a job board) — this is great if you don’t feel like manually searching for streamers.
Full transparency: I work with PowerSpike so I’m biased towards our platform, but any tool will work for your needs.
Once you have a list of potential streamers…
5. Find their contact information.
If you manually searched for your list of streamers, you’ll have to manually find each of their points of contact.
There are a few common places you can look for contact info:
1. The info section.
This is where most streamers link to their emails or Discord servers.
If a streamer’s info section is crowded, just Control + F and search for “@,” “gmail,” or “email.” If nothing comes up, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
2. Twitter descriptions.
If the contact info isn’t in their info section, there’s a good chance they’ve linked it in their Twitter bio.
You can usually find a streamer’s Twitter account from their info section. If it’s not there, however, you can Google “[streamer name] + Twitter” and (if they have an account) it will appear.
In my experience, the best way to contact a streamer is through Discord DMs. Most streamers have links to join their Discord servers in their info sections, and they’re almost always open to the public.
6. Send a sponsorship proposal.
We’re finally getting to the good stuff.
A “proposal” is an email that introduces you to a streamer and informs them of your sponsorship offer. It usually acts as your first impression, so it’s important to get right.
Here’s the process I use to write proposals for custom-managed campaigns at PowerSpike:
- Greet the streamer and tell them a bit about yourself and your game. Briefly mention how you discovered their stream. Make it personal.
- Next, tell them you want to send them a free copy of your game and let them know you want to sponsor them. Give a brief description of your promotion idea.
- Then, provide an offer for how much you’d pay them for completing the sponsorship. Let them know when you’re looking to start the deal.
- Lastly, encourage ongoing communication by inviting them to a short voice call to further discuss the deal.
Once your proposal is completed, send it to the streamer on Discord, Twitter, or email.
If the streamer accepts your proposal, great! You can move on to the next step.
If they want to negotiate your price or requirements, that’s fine too. Talk it out with them. Be honest about what you’re able to offer and how far you can go in terms of pricing. If the offer goes out of your range or they decline to accept, it’s no big deal — thank them for taking the time and move on.
7. Send the necessary deal and promotion materials.
Once a streamer accepts your proposal, there are only a few things left to do:
- If money is involved, send a contract. You can skip this step if you’re using PowerSpike.
- Set a time and date for them to complete the sponsorship. It’s best to let them choose this time, but don’t hesitate to propose your own time frame if it’s important.
- Send the necessary resources (e.g. game keys, branded info section graphics, tracking links, documents that restate your requirements, etc.).
- Lastly, ensure the streamer knows to include #ad or #sponsored in their stream titles or social media posts during sponsored content. If you‘re unsure whether this FTC rule applies to your sponsorship, more info can be found here.
8. Watch the sponsorship.
There are several reasons why you’d want to watch your sponsored content live:
- Viewers like to interact with devs. You’ll make them feel like they’re a part of your project by talking with them in the chat, and that’s cool.
- You can collect feedback and answer questions.
- The streamers and the viewers will know you care.
Just be sure you aren’t micromanaging from the chat. Let your streamers do their thing and you can interact with their communities.
9. Record results, pay the streamer, and restart.
It’s done. And now it’s time to measure the results.
How many clicks did your website get? How many game copies did you sell? How much feedback did you receive? Did the streamer provide high-quality content? Were they professional? Did you set the grounds for an ongoing relationship? And most importantly:
Did you achieve the goals you set in step one?
I hope so. But if not, you can always learn from your mistakes and try again later.
Once all your requirements have been fulfilled, you can pay your streamers and restart the process!
By now, you should have a great understanding of how you can sponsor Twitch streamers to achieve your marketing goals as a game developer. To quickly recap the process:
- Formulate your goals.
- Set your budget.
- Brainstorm promotion ideas.
- Gather a list of streamers.
- Find their contact information.
- Reach out and propose the promotion ideas and sponsorship offer.
- Send necessary deal and promotion materials if they accept your offer.
- Observe the sponsored content.
- Record results, pay the streamer, and restart.
And that’s it.
Good luck out there!
If you're interested in trying PowerSpike for free to kickstart your influencer marketing efforts, feel free to DM me and I'll help you out!
Originally posted on Medium at https://medium.com/@aaronmarsden/a17045c32611.