Post title as an image, but actiony!

How to Expand Your Twitch Network

In my last article, How to Get Twitch Viewers and Followers, I mentioned you can get hosts and raids from other streamers in your Twitch network of friends. Today I’m going to discuss how a new streamer can build that initial network of streaming buddies from the ground up.

If you’re the type of person who has no trouble walking into a room of strangers and getting to know everyone, then this article may seem useless in the How to Stream on Twitch series.

However:

For the rest of us normies without social-superpowers a little advice couldn’t hurt.

multicolored game pieces on a gameboard connected by lines
Basically this but with people streaming. Thanks for coming to my TED talk.

Existing Friends

Before you get too overwhelmed, make note of your existing network. You have friends already and if you find out any of them are streamers or youtubers it’s worth it to stay in touch and let them know your plans and ask for advice or work together.

Even if it sounds like a friend isn’t doing the exact-same content as you, it’s worth reaching out.

Knowing someone who doesn’t stream, but records a weekly YouTube vlog series about trans rights or case law might seem irrelevant to you playing Super Mario.

But:

The cross-pollination of ideas and diversity of audiences and content are what allow channels to grow and expand.

And even if that doesn’t sound compelling to you personally, they would still have tons of experience with everything from audio issues to knowing the best place locally to buy used condenser microphones to save on the Audio Technica AT2020!

What If None of My Friends Stream?

That’s fine and expected! Not everyone streams so you may be the first person in your group to start!

I know that when I started I didn’t have any friends who were streaming. Hell, when I started it was still called Justin.tv!

Very early 1900s photo featuring a woman fashionably but conservatively dressed.
True Facts: Back in this Justin.tv days this was considered a NSFW stream.

The purpose of this article is to help get you a few friends in your Twitch network that do stream.

How do I network with other streamers?

Begin browsing the category of the type of stream you are interested in. If you don’t know what category that is yet, feel free to peruse the Choosing a Twitch Category article.

Spend some time watching other streamers around your size or a little larger and find the ones you not only enjoy watching, but have communities you can chat with and feel comfortable.

That’s the secret, that’s it! I have a few more tips really, but they are situational and in all honesty:

Being a genuinely nice person is the quickest path to a strong Twitch network.

Besides:

Watching streams is almost a type of market research. You’ll learn about what your target demographic likes and doesn’t like. You’ll see a variety of streams to quickly identify bad audio from great audio. You’ll hear and understand the difference between a condenser microphone like the AT2020 and a dynamic one like the Shure SM7B.

Other things to keep an eye out for:

  • Do you like Overlays and Graphics? How many? Are the effects too much or distracting?
  • Which microphones make a streamer’s voice sound warm vs tinny.
  • How important is it for the face cam to be super high definition vs a cheap Logitech C310?
  • How do different streamers deal with a bathroom break, or eating on stream?

Your community and demographic will have different expectations for these, especially with conventions like breaks.

Example:

In the speedrunning community it is definitely not okay to pause your timers, get up, and hit up the bathroom and grab a snack. You have to finish or end the run!

How Do I Ask Streamers for Specifics or Tech Info?

You should always check their panels beneath their stream first and foremost. Most streamers get the question often enough that they will list what gear they use, or even use Amazon Affiliate links to get a little kickback for telling people.

If it’s not listed:

Just ask when it looks like they have a moment to answer.

I’ve definitely asked some bizarre questions while watching art streams, for example.

  • “What size is your Wacom?”
  • “What tripod or mounting system do you have to stabilize your art camera?”
  • “Do you use a foot pedal for LiveSplit during your speedruns?

Most streamers aren’t the biggest fans of rambling ad infinitum for hours on end without audience interaction so converse freely when you can.

Remember:

By interacting with them you are expanding your network and they are expanding theirs.

Should I do Giveaways and Buy Friendship?

There are popular streamers out there who will certainly give your channel a shout out to their audience of thousands for large “donation”, sure.

But be honest with yourself:

Are those the type of viewers and the type of network you want to build around yourself?

No

Of course not.

Those viewers and that network of support won’t stick around and you’ll still be out the money you spent on a donation. A short-term spike in your view or follower count is not worth the hassle.

The same can be said with giveaways.

You can certainly buy the Arkham Horror Living Card Game for other streamers in your Twitch network and they might give you a shout out.

Hell, you buy me some expensive stuff and I’ll be sure to say your name at least once in passing.

But you’ll just be the streamer who buys people stuff. Don’t be that streamer.

What’s the difference between a host and a raid?

A host changes the video on your Twitch user page to the live stream of another user. Anyone visiting your page will remain in your chat, with your moderation/bots/etc. A host uses the /host TargetName command.

It will show in the hosted streamer’s event log as “User has hosted your stream with X viewers”. They may or may not have a chat or in-stream announcement of this.

A raid is a host that sends your chat to their channel page. It uses the /raid TargetName command.

It will show in the raided streamer’s event log as “User has raided your stream with X viewers”.

Rows of plastic army figures with guns facing forward.
Basically your viewers as they march toward the next channel.

Be sure to announce to your stream you are doing this about 10-20 seconds in advance of typing the /raid command. Due to the stream delay, if you announce the raid and type the command at the time viewers will see the Raid timer countdown before you mention it.

Warning:

This is even more important for /host, which does not have a warning for your chat.

It cuts your stream and starts immediately.

A warning-ier warning:

You are still broadcasting after a raid or host!

People visiting your page will see the hosted stream, but people hosting your stream will still see it!

Make sure to go into your broadcast software, such as OBS, and END BROADCAST.

Should I Host or Raid Another Streamer?

You should be raiding other streamers of similar size at the end of your stream and then stick around a bit to continue to watch and enjoy their stream. Be friendly and supportive and interested to your new Twitch network.

There are a few benefits to this:

  • You’ll be helping the growth of their channel by introducing new viewers.
  • You’re opening yourself up to the larger Twitch community and meeting other streamers who are about your experience level.
  • It’s kinda fun, like giving someone a surprise present.

I check my following list with my viewers. If anyone I watch that’s around the same viewer count or less is online, then I throw a raid using the /raid command respectively from my channel’s chat and head over there.

If there are a lot of possibilities, ask your current viewers what they want to hang out and watch!

Should I Raid a Larger or Smaller Streamer?

If I raid a 10,000 viewer stream with a group of 3 people who were watching me draw cat butts, they might think I was trying to self-promote myself using the larger streamer’s onscreen notifications.

That’s not the case and you don’t want to give that impression.

The ideal is that you try to lift up others in similar situations so that they may one day lift you. In the previous example, it might be better to look for an art streamer who is also doing cartoon drawings around 5-10 viewers.

It can also be fun to host/raid streams of dissimilar content as well!

Example, TJThrilla will sometimes end an art or retro stream by raiding a creative stream that seems interesting. Try introducing your viewers to streamers that you or they might find cool, like a harpist, DJ, or sculptor!

What is the Twitch Auto Host?

An auto host is set up in your Twitch creator dashboard and is a list of streams, in order or random, that you’d prefer your channel would automatically show the live feed when your followers and subscribers visit your page if you aren’t currently live.

The host list that the auto host pulls from is effectively your Twitch network.

An iRobot Roomba robot vacuum cleaner.
The analogy here is your viewers are garbage that the Twitch auto host is picking up and removing for you.

You can find it under the Channel Settings on your Twitch Dashboard.

Should I Use Twitch’s Auto Host?

People visiting your page will still be in your channel’s chat, which can be nice if you are watching a very large channel, such as Bob Ross. It’s like having your friends on your couch watching and want to talk to each other.

Since your channel page is effectively dead and lifeless when you aren’t streaming, it’s worth while to add your favorite channels/friends to your Host List to keep the page interesting.

It also helps other streamers in your network find other streamers in your network.

Example:

Your super cool close friend Bob Ross is ending a creative stream and wants to host someone, but nobody they follow is live. They see you are hosting Rembrandt though and decide to check it out, sending their viewers to Rembrandt’s channel.

That’s what networking is all about!

Wrapping Up

As homework you can watch a few relevant channels and try to be active in their chat or discord. I know, right? It’s the hardest homework yet! You’ll have a large twitch network of buddies in no time.

Have you met or discovered any interesting streams via another streamer’s hosting or raiding? Let me know your success/horror stories in the comments and don’t forget to check out the next post in How to Stream on Twitch and Succeed when it’s live!

If you’d like a heads up when it does, or to read from your phone via email, be sure to sign up for the How to Stream on Twitch Newsletter!

Next we’ll be talking about… Bots and Moderation!

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