An Exploration of Audience Engagement on Twitch

TL;DR – We look at three creators who are creating unique, engaging moments with their audiences

Article

For better or worse, one of the modern Internet features is that anyone can be a creator, publishing across platforms like TikTok, YouTube, and Twitch, among others. Today we will focus on Twitch’s streaming platform, where we will explore the many ways creators engage with their audiences. To do this, we will first give a general overview of Twitch for those who might not be familiar with it. Then we will look at three very different creators engaging with their audiences and allowing their audiences to engage with them in unique and odd ways.

At its core, Twitch (owned by Amazon) is a streaming platform where people upload content from their homes to be consumed by audiences across the world. When people first think of Twitch, they think of it being a gaming platform, which makes up a core part of its market. You have streamers that focus primarily on one game like MilesTheRoss and Call of Duty or Deligracy and The Sims. Then you have those creators that are variety streamers that delve into several games like hexsteph bouncing between Ark, Valheim, and Destiny 2 on the same day, or GeeeOfDeee jumping from horror games to Mass Effect. Channels tend to be built around single personalities like the sheer force of will that is Bajo, but as time as gone on, there has been a growing number of group channels like ETTOnline and LoadingReadyRun

While Twitch is known generally as a gaming platform, that is not to say that games are the only thing broadcast on the platform as there is a growing number of people doing weird and wonderful things on the platform. Like splucy, who takes her audience fishing in the waters of Western Australia or broxh_ who teaches traditional Māori carving. This variety of options makes Twitch one of the popular choices for people on the Internet. But unlike mediums like TV, Twitch is a platform that allows communications between a creator and their audience to happen in real-time (well, slightly lagged real-time), and it is that engagement that we will focus on today.   

MitchBruzzese

Mitch Bruzzese showing off his talent with the drums. Image Credit: Mitch Bruzzese.

With our first Twitch streamer, we are going to dive into the world of Music Twitch. Mitch is a streamer that focuses on his fantastic drumming talent while a banana hangs from his microphone for some reason. Throughout his streams, he plays the drums to accompany the almost 700 songs that he has with the original drum track removed. The first thing you see with Mitch is his talent as you watch him play from memory and hit every note, and many of them are not easy songs to drum to. Then, there is his stamina because it is not easy playing the drums for over five hours on a stream. It is the kind of stream where you can sit and listen for hour upon hour as the drumbeats hit. We should also point out the production quality, as the stream has five different cameras that the stream seamlessly cuts between throughout each performance.

While Mitch’s performance ability and general fun streams would be enough to recommend him, what we want to do is focus on how he allows his audience to engage with him. The first comes from the ‘live learns’ he incorporated into most streams. Here there is a bidding process where the top 3 to 5 winners get their song learned and performed live. These are fun additions to the streams, but they are not the main reason we are highlighting Mitch here. The main reason is his use of lights.

One of the many different lighting set ups you can have in a performance. Image Credit: Mitch Bruzzese.

Throughout his performances, you will see that he has added LED bands around the inside edge of several drums. This produces a striking visual contrast for his streams, amplified by the many different light combinations you can create in that setup. Mitch takes that potential even further by setting up commands so that his audience can change the lights on the go. It is limited so that you don’t get a kaleidoscope of changes every second. However, this small shift creates increased engagement opportunities for the audience, amplifies the stream’s production, and brings a concert feel to every performance.

JordanRasko

Scorpion and Cardboard Cowboy, one of the many different combinations you can get during a Hype Train. Image Credit: Jordan Raskopoulos.
Scorpion and Cardboard Cowboy, one of the many different combinations you can get during a Hype Train. Image Credit: Jordan Raskopoulos.

Our next streamer is Jordan Rasko, a stand-up comedian that took to Twitch after the global pandemic shut down live shows. Jordan is a variety streamer that delves into games like Sea of Thieves and things as wide a Dream Daddy and Little Nightmares. The gaming streams are interspaced with shows where she explores odd artefacts of Australian TV, plays Jackbox with her audience, and makes the most of the ‘Just Chatting’ category while ridding Falkor.

Like many streamers, Jordan engages with new followers that pop up with the Goose from the untitled goose game, there are donation goals, subscribing means it is time for Golden Girls, and more peculiar things like what happens when someone spots a moon. Then there is the next level of engagement, where people can use their channel points to insert sound effects and videos into the stream. This often takes the form of several different varieties of fart sounds. Still, they can stretch from the deep cut Australian references like Frank Walker from National Tiles to using a clip of Anakin killing the younglings in their prime to segue into reminding people about their free Amazon Prime Subscription.

The end of every Hype Fighter is always met with the arrival of a Lube Mobile. Image Credit: Jordan Raskopoulos.
The end of every Hype Fighter is always met with the arrival of a Lube Mobile. Image Credit: Jordan Raskopoulos.

However, where I want to focus on is how she uses the Hype Train mechanic within Twitch. In Twitch, if many people give bits or subscribe within a certain amount of time, it creates a ‘hype train’ where viewers are incentivised to drop more bits and subscriptions by getting access to new smilies and getting icons next to their name. Some streams barely acknowledge it exists. Some try to hype it up. But Jordan uses it as a chance to increase engagement with her audience.

When a Hype Train starts, Jordan cuts from the gameplay to her within a version of the car in the classic Street Fighter II ‘destroy car’ bonus stage. As people subscribe or give bits, the car gets destroyed by several different characters from across pop culture. These characters begin to slowly destroy the vehicle until it needs to be fixed by a Lube Mobile. As an audience member, by changing the specific number of bits you donate, you can choose to go random while joining the fray or pick from the 49 different characters (at the time of writing) to do the damage for you. Not only does the ‘Hype Fighter’ event make the most of the Hype Train mechanic and demonstrate Jordan’s creativity. It creates a critical moment of engagement between Jordan and her audience and creates key event moments in her stream that are always entertaining because you are never quite sure what you are going to get.

Back Pocket

Nich 'Nichboy' Richardson demonstrating 'Deafmints' mints. Image Credit: Lowkii Productions.
Nich ‘Nichboy’ Richardson demonstrating ‘Deafmints’ mints. Image Credit: Lowkii Productions.

Last but not least is the variety talk show that is Back Pocket, a channel that runs several different shows from a talk show, to news round-up, to film/TV show rundowns, to gaming streams. This is Twitch, after all. Back Pocket is a production created by a team that includes Nich Richardson, Gus Ronald, Stephanie Bendixsen, Peter Burns, and William Yates. Who have all worked in the TV industry before on shows like Good Game, Screenplay, Help My Kid Is a Gamer, and What is Music?.

Like many Twitch streams supported in part by Patreon, one of the core parts of Back Pocket’s engagement comes from community building. There are the usual forms of outreach, like chatting to people on stream, creating a Discord server, and shout outs to patrons. While these are essential parts of an engagement campaign with your audience, there are two ways in which Back Pocket increases that engagement by working directly with their audience.

An ad for Learn Programming Academy, done in the stile of a life insurance ad. Image Credit: Lowkii Productions.

As you go through the different tiers of the Back Pocket Patreon, you get different levels of impact on the show. To start with, you get your name in a rolling bar at the bottom of every stream, and then in another stage, you get to submit a photo/image that rotates throughout the stream. However, the area where you see this excel is how they get their patrons to submit videos that they air in their ad breaks between segments. These ads add to the show’s vibe and give the audience to show off their creativity, which varies from licking rocks, to taking in sunsets, watering emus, exploring kindness as a concept, and even homage to the word ‘poot’.

While the audience ads are one level, what sets Back Pocket apart is what they do for their high tier patrons. Instead of getting them to submit their ads, the crew create their own ads based on the patrons’ name. These tend to spoof real-world ads, like those you see for life insurance, perfume, or medicine (if you lived in America where they still run ads for medicine on TV). This means the ads can swing wildly from straight-up political hit-job ads to homage to a job ad one of the patrons once together. The production of each of these ads perfectly hit the style of each of the ads they are spoofing and are always entertaining.  These ad breaks serve an administrative function in breaking up the different segments in the show. However, the combination of audience and in-house productions make them a highlight of the stream, as you never know what new insanity you are about to see.

These three examples are but a small sample of a growing world of creativity on the Twitch platform. But all three show exciting ways that you can connect with your audiences through entertaining and unique ways.                 

By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.

Who are your favourite streamers on Twitch?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us
Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.

Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of MitchBruzzese, JordanRasko & Back Pocket.

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