Twitch is a live streaming social media platform that has built a large audience through video game streaming, though their content continues to diversify. The Amazon-owned channel has often been described as a niche. However, it is important not to undervalue it when it comes to digital marketing for brands. Twitch has many features that encourage both creators and viewers to engage with the platform for long periods of time. For example, creators can Livestream videos for up to 48hrs.
Another key feature is the comments bar which appears at the side of Livestream videos and allows the audience and creator to chat whilst they watch. Furthermore, there are rewards for viewers who subscribe to their favourite creators in the form of Emotes. Twitch Emotes are icons or stickers that can be used in chats and appear next to users profiles. Creators offer exclusive Emotes to users who subscribe, and these can evolve the longer the user stays subscribed. To put it simply, Twitch has a highly engaged audience making popular creators into strong brand influencers. It is estimated that 64% of viewers are likely to purchase products that have been recommended by their favourite streamers.
Whilst there is some argument that the Twitch audience is not broad enough to be useful to some brands, this is all about perspective. It is true that 41% of users are aged between 16 and 24, putting them within the Gen-Z category, with 73% of users overall being aged under 34, making another third of the audience Millennials. However, Twitch can be considered the window into the next generation of digital consumers in terms of longevity. In addition, it can be utilised as a testing ground for innovative new digital marketing strategies. Whilst more established social platforms have seen massive uptake with brands, there have been some high profile experimental campaigns on Twitch, and we look at a few to see how brands are interacting with this new channel.
There are many routes that brands can take to reach audiences on Twitch. For example, the Japanese food company Nissin Noodles initially began their Twitch collaboration by sponsoring a TEKKEN tournament on the platform (a popular game live-streamed by Twitch creators). They must have been impressed with the results since they later partnered with popular Twitch live streamers, such as Pokimane. The Twitch streaming star has amassed over four million followers and focuses on showing fantasy role-playing games.
In partnership with Nissin Noodles, she made and ate a cup of noodles on one of her live streams, reaching a live audience of around 11,000. The promotion featured a ‘Slurp Meter’, which measured the noise created by her eating the noodles and which cleverly engaged viewers with the product. This fun component kept viewers’ attention on the product and gave them a talking point to discuss in the live chat bar. Furthermore, it allowed the product to become interactive. Finally, it showed it to be a convenient snack for gamers and gaming audiences, generating a desire to emulate the gaming habits of the popular Twitch creator.
The clothing brand GUESS took a unique approach to their Twitch campaign. Since they targeted a niche audience on the platform, they chose to move away from using the trendy male influencers on the site, favouring gamer Adelaide Kane. Whilst this may seem like a sideways step, it was very well calculated since the live streamer is also an actress with a large Instagram following of 1.6 million, despite her Twitch following being only around 2000 strong. Additionally, GUESS sponsored Adelaide to Livestream Day 3 of the TwitchCon event to her followers whilst using this as a gateway to Instagram. They featured her in their stories on the same day.
The livestreamer’s post on her own Instagram channel about the Twitch event gained over 116K likes alone. GUESS also made an appearance at the event itself, highlighting that they have potential interest in further collaborations with the platform in the future. Additionally, the brand has found value in Twitch’s female demographic, leaving the door open for others to follow.
These two rival food delivery companies, UberEats and Postmates, seem to have been in cahoots when they planned their Twitch strategies. Both teamed up with mega-influencers Ninja and Shroud, respectively, to reach out to the gaming communities. The campaign set-ups appear to be very similar, with the creators offering exclusive promotions throughout various live streaming sessions and using the delivery services during gaming sessions so that audiences can see how convenient they are. In addition, both Ninja and Shroud utilised their large Twitter followings to promote further the brands and alert Twitch followers to upcoming promotions. Shroud, for example, has 821,000 Twitter followers and amassed a 34,000 strong audience for a 12-hour Twitch stream in which he included the Postmates brand name in the title of his video. These campaigns were so successful that some limited promotional codes were sold out before the live streaming had concluded.
This make-up brand took a unique approach to their Twitch campaign, embracing the popularity of gaming-orientated content. This may have been due to a brand survey suggesting that over 65% of their customers liked to play or watch video games. Like many brands, they chose to partner with a popular Twitch streamer, utilising the strong relationship between creators and their audiences. LoserFruit has the second-largest Twitch following for a female game streamer, and this is in part due to her relatable personality and authentic content.
Since the e.l.f cosmetics ethos revolves around inclusivity and a vegan and cruelty-free brand, the partnership with LoserFruit seems like a good move. During the launch of their collaboration, they filmed a make-up specialist helping LoserFruit recreate her Fortnite avatar’s look in real life, positioning their brand within the cosplay market and traditional make-up avenues. Whilst the Twitch influencer will be sharing new skincare and make-up products with her female followers. She will also introduce them to her male audience with products not explicitly branded for one gender identity.
Perhaps one of Twitch’s best campaigns has seen so far, KFC partnered with two creators; DrLupo and Anthony Kongphan. Whilst playing live as a team in PUGB (Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds), KFC ran an interactive contest. If the pair won a round of the game, viewers were encouraged to type the phrase “winner winner” into the live chat bar, automatically entering them into a draw to win a KFC gift card. Simultaneously by typing the words, a unique Emote is generated, creating associations between the viewers gaming conversations and the brand. The influencers also kept attention on the brand by shouting humorous phrases during the Livestream, such as “Gotta get that chicken. KFC! KFC!” The campaign ensured that all aspects from gameplay, live chat and Emotes were linked to their brand to reinforce positive association when playing or watching the popular Twitch game.
Whilst it is clear that some brands have managed successful brand awareness campaigns using Twitch, there are still some factors holding back others. One disadvantage is the unscripted nature of long live streams and the lack of control that brings with it. Another similar disadvantage could be the live chat which may require constant monitoring and modification if comments become inappropriate or negative towards the brand, especially considering that some brands are geared towards families or children. Finally, many brands claim that the audience mix of Twitch is not appropriate for them, making the platform impractical.
However, it is essential to consider that around 40% of consumers would like to see more video content from brands. The platform offers a window into future consumer behaviour with influencer marketing and Livestream shopping. With some brands making successful marketing campaigns on Twitch, it would be surprising if we don’t see this number rise over the next few years, with more brands including the platform in their broader digital strategies.