It feels like only yesterday we were watching Azubu, Hitbox, and YouTube attempt to battle it out with Twitch.tv. All parties fighting to be the number one destination in gaming and esports for live entertainment. Twitch.tv of course won and went on to be purchased by Amazon.
Today we see familiar faces and new giants in the realm of live gaming and esports entertainment. Mixer being the biggest newcomer with the best shot of usurping the throne from Twitch.tv. Thanks to major acquisitions in the form of Ninja and Shroud, they actually have a chance.
But we aren't here to speculate on the future of streaming platforms. No, we are here to talk about what we can all learn from what is going on in the neighbourhood.
Content > Platform
Your content is more valuable than what platform you are on. The value of your content should be baked into the content directly - not rely on the platform to achieve objectives. Now, we aren't saying you shouldn't take advantage of platform utilities, such as adding a CTA overlay during your content, or optimizing your channels for a streamlined user experience.
What we are saying is that content should be your core focus. The value your users receive stems directly from the content - not the platform. The platform simply facilitates the exchange of value between the publisher and user. If you had an empty platform page, no user is going to receive any value from it no matter how well you optimized its ancillary features.
Content is what users come for, you should be focusing your efforts on building the best experience and providing the best value you possibly can through your content.
Also - content theft is a reality. Especially today, it takes zero effort to steal a publisher's post and repost it on another platform, even under a different name taking credit for its creation. So as much as you rely on platform features to help protect your content and offer you the publisher some value, you must ensure your content contains 100% of the value proposition. Branding, CTA's, credit information, etc, should all be included within the video to prevent theft or change/difference of platform to matter.
Because just like Ninja and Shroud - their fans followed them. Not for the platform, but for their brand and content. Their value propositions to fans are not reliant on what streaming platform they choose. Not entirely at least. Discoverability and accessibility are a whole other topic...
Community Is Critical
If you serve it; they will come. That seems to be the lesson for the content creators who have built thriving communities around their brands. Having created true fandom has enabled them to make bold moves, such as switching their main publishing channel overnight without warning.
A platform is a critical tool that generally offers you a stable place to publish, as well as a place for your community to live. This means community features, bonuses, rewards, monetization, and the like. These features benefit the publisher, by offering gamification and extras they can serve to their community. And they also benefit the users by providing a more enhanced user experience on top of the basic expectations users already have.
Ninja, Shroud, and other creators/publishers have spent a monumental amount of time and effort into building their communities. As we said above, the value users receive is directly in relation to the content the creators publish. As a result, smart creators/publishers spend time on community focused content, such as engagement activities (ie, contests, play alongs, Q&As, etc.). They create real value through this content and it is authentic and genuine when they do so - their fans do not feel like they are being used or being sold to.
This content gives users a place and purpose - a community. Without a real community of fans, you are just publishing content into an abyss. You must create a collaborative experience with your community members in order to turn them into hardcore fans/advocates.
Sensitivity Analysis Is Important
These are still incredibly big and even life changing moves for these content creators. A bold unforeseen switch from the world-leader in live gaming entertainment to a new up-and-coming competitor (albeit funded by Microsoft) still has some associated risk. Without testing and analyzing how sensitive their communities were to change, these moves to another platform could have been disastrous.
You are talking about breaking and resetting a user's habits with regards to content consumption. Not an easy feat, especially if they are only a casual fan.
This kind of analysis reaches far beyond that of a platform change. Sensitivity analysis should be used throughout your marketing operations. Pricing is an obvious choice. But you should also look at the various aspects of your community and gamification features, content consumption habits, platform choice, and even design elements.
By doing so you allow for that two-way communication to happen. Working with your community in order to determine what their expectations are and how you can continuously improve the overall fan experience.
- Focus on creating content that provides true value. Do not rely on a platform and its features to provide value or protect you. They are just the cherry on top.
- Facilitating community growth and development through content should be a primary goal.
- Sensitivity, multi-variant, A/B testing, etc, are essential for the growth of your community and brand, as well as the continuous improvement of your operations.
PLAYNECT Is Here To Help
At PLAYNECT our fundamental belief is that you need to create habits among users to create true fandom. We work closely with brands in gaming and esports to build thriving vibrant communities and foster true, genuine fandom. Without it, you cannot succeed.
We focus on data, content, and publishing as a way to create this fandom. Without proper validated data, you cannot make informed decisions regarding content and publishing. And without content, you cannot publish, and without publishing, you cannot collect data. The lifecycle and evolution of content requires these three pillars to move forward and thrive. Let us help you create your next big community of real fans.