If you’re a game developer, you probably know that gaming has quickly become a way of life, rather than something players merely take part in. Not only is the number of people playing games online larger than ever — but so is the number of spectators tuning in to watch live streams of competitive gaming. From Call of Duty heavy hitters to the masters of Minecraft, there are hundreds of Twitch and YouTube gaming influencers who are changing the gaming industry.
In this article, we’ll take you through:
- Why influencer campaigns are the future of video game marketing
- Everything you need to know about Twitch versus YouTube for influencer marketing, including pros and cons of each
- How to find the right influencers for your audience
- And what to look for in Twitch and YouTube influencers
To say the very least, engaging with gaming influencers is important if you’re marketing an indie game in a saturated category. Even well known game studios can attest that high quality content isn’t always enough in the current gaming landscape — to promote your game to the gamers likely to care, you need to align with someone who already has your audience’s attention. Makes sense, right?
By aligning your brand with Twitch or YouTube influencers, you can easily increase the chances that your indie game brand will be heard, seen, and recognized. With millions of passionate subscribers on Twitch and YouTube, the best gaming influencers can entertain and inform their fans and followers with a wide variety of gaming content — including content about your game. That’s the beauty of working with gaming influencers: there’s really no limit to the creative ways you can team up with one to get the word out about your game.
From competitive gaming streams, tutorials, and giveaways to live gameplays and even game reviews, these YouTube and Twitch influencers can help your brand break into a highly competitive international market. Compared to other channels for reaching your target audience — like ads or organic social posts — influencers are likely your safest bet because of a little thing called social proof.
As it turns out, gaming influencers from Twitch and YouTube are just as impactful as influencers in popular categories like fashion and fitness, and they tend to be way more economical than conventional advertising methods. In other words, gaming influencers are a great way to market your indie game on a budget.
Why influencers are the future of video game marketing
If you’re a gamer yourself, you’re probably well aware that the online gaming community is a very challenging bunch to reach with traditional advertising. In general, consumers these days have grown wary of claims from brands — and game developers — themselves. These days, the online gaming community wants to see that your game is worth playing, and seeing that someone they respect has enjoyed your game makes their decision that much easier. This is exactly why influencer marketing is not only on the rise, but quickly becoming the future of video game marketing.
The online gaming community is logged on across platforms and gaming niches, and when they find a streaming influencer they like they tend to follow their every move online. So by partnering with gaming influencers, you not only get your brand’s message out there to more people — but you get it out to the right people. This means that at long last you can have a direct line of communication with your target audience, which is incredibly valuable when it comes to promoting your game. Thanks, gaming influencers.
It’s clear to see why influencers are overtaking traditional forms of marketing and game promotion and cementing their position as the future of video game marketing:
- Gaming influencers are more trusted. 82 percent of people are more likely to purchase a product an influencer recommended to them.
- Influencer marketing doesn’t have to break the bank. This type of promotional campaign is perfect for indie game developers because even the gaming influencers with some of the highest engagement to reach ratios are still more affordable than other advertising channels.
- Gamers pay attention to what influencers post. You may know that ad blocker usage is increasing, particularly among the younger generations. However, people will not block their favorite social media personalities. This is because they trust them.
So, whether you develop games or only market and sell them, having somebody to promote your brand is now essential either way. Unlike a new gaming brand, influencers are already recognized by the online gaming community, and they’ve put in the hard work of distinguishing themselves with authentic content for a demographic they’re uniquely qualified to address.
Unlike even the most well-studied marketers, gaming influencers know what their fans and followers will respond to best. They naturally and intuitively craft compelling messages that will appeal to their community, and that’s something every game developer and esports organization should tap into.
What you should know about Twitch versus YouTube for influencer marketing
Twitch for influencer marketing
Founded in 2011 and purchased by Amazon in 2014, Twitch is a growing online gaming community where online gamers live stream while competing with one another in some of the most popular games. With more than two million unique visitors every month, Twitch is one of the leading platforms in modern video gaming.
Influencer Marketing Hub revealed that 240 billion minutes’ worth of video game content had already been streamed on this platform by November 2016. And the same publication stated that there are about 120 million views and about two million unique video game streams on Twitch on a monthly basis. Suffice to say that these numbers are only going up as the world navigates life in and out of lockdown from the coronavirus pandemic.
Unlike some other social media platforms, gamers earn money in Twitch through the famous Twitch Affiliates and Partner program. This program allows online gamers to accept donations, paid subscriptions, ad placements, and sponsorships, etc. It’s worth noting that some of the most popular gaming influencers on Twitch are Bungie, Ninja, and LegendaryLea — and their weekly incomes range between $1,000 and $18,000!
This is just one of many data points to support that gaming is not only a lifestyle, but now a full blown profession thanks to influencer marketing.
When it comes to identifying them, you can easily and find Twitch influencers by going to the Live Channels category. From there you can manually search for a specific game series or title. Then, the platform recommends live streams that you can choose from, with the online gamers’ information available.
YouTube for Influencer Marketing
Recall that Google announced the launch of YouTube Gaming in 2015, which garners about 300,000 unique visitors per month. The platform is similar to YouTube; however, it is designed to concentrate on live game streaming — and again, the numbers are likely soaring during lockdown.
One major difference between Twitch and YouTube for influencer marketing is that it’s easier and quicker to find YouTube influencers. Some of the most popular and notable influencers on YouTube Gaming include Pewdiepie, SSSniperWolf, and iHasCupquake. Since 2018 YouTube Gaming has been a huge channel for streaming, with about 195,880 people streaming online. This number increased by more than 250% by the second quarter of 2020, meaning that over 692,000 people are streaming video games on YouTube gaming.
According to a consolidated report by Flamingo, Google, and Ipsos, 56% of gaming influencers now use this platform to connect with and engage with their online audience, fostering and promoting a sense of inclusion — so even Twitch comes to mind first when you think of streaming, YouTube gaming should definitely not be overlooked.
Pros and Cons of Twitch Influencers
Pros of Twitch Influencers
- Twitch influencers encourage higher engagement for the target audience through many complimentary activities, such as broadcasting and viewing. Note that the more invested and engaged the audience is in the gaming content, the higher the chances that the streaming spectators will go on to engage with your brand, or even convert in whatever way your influencer campaign allows.
- Twitch influencers are likely to have a competitive edge with audience size as more than two million streamers are registered on the platform.
- Twitch influencers tend to get more engagement from their audience thanks to the interactivity of the platform and live chat functionality — meaning working with them opens up the possibility for you to engage with your audience in real-time.
- Working with Twitch influencers often means that the watch time on your influencer content will be considerably longer — providing a better opportunity for your audience to get to know your brand and have more time to engage with your content and products.
Cons of Twitch Influencers
- Something to keep in mind is that streaming spectators on Twitch typically only watch game streams once. That means that with Twitch influencers, you should really only expect to reach your target audience during the initial stream.
- While Twitch provides analytics and measurement capabilities for game developers, marketing agencies, and game channel owners, the depth of metrics and information is relatively limited compared to YouTube. Keeping track of your campaign performance is an important part of influencer marketing, so this could be a potential drawback of influencer marketing on Twitch.
- Another potential pitfall of hiring Twitch influencers is that the platform has now become extremely saturated with content creators, which could make your sponsored content less effective and ultimately limit your brand exposure.
- While Twitch can be used to stream various types of content (such as art and even live music shows), keep in mind that Twitch influencers still tend to attract a more traditional online gaming audience. Depending on the game you’re promoting, this might not be a bad thing!
Pros and Cons of YouTube Influencers
YouTube Influencers Pros
- Hiring YouTube influencers is a great way to tap into a broader audience since it’s the most widely used video platform. And YouTube influencers can be incredibly effective regardless of whether you already have a successful channel.
- Because the format of YouTube Gaming comes with a bit more freedom, you can ask YouTube influencers to create engaging and informative videos, like game tutorials and unboxing videos.
- YouTube videos can help you with other important marketing goals, like driving high quality engaged traffic to your gaming website.
- The platform also has a few good monetization options, such as Super Chat, which makes working with influencers easier for game developers.
YouTube Influencers Cons
- Despite its popularity in many global markets, hiring YouTube influencers can be problematic as YouTube is one of the most blocked sites in the word — even in the US. If your target audience is likely to tune into your sponsored content while at work or during school, there’s a chance that YouTube is blocked on those networks, which could jeopardize your viewership —and the impact of your sponsored content.
- Unlike Twitch and other platforms, YouTube influencers can’t have the real-time and authentic interaction with target audiences that do wonders to increase engagement for your indie game brand.
- That said, it’s more likely that YouTube streams will be watched again after the fact, so this is a trade off worth considering.
How to Find the Right Influencers for Your Audience
Choosing the right gaming influencers to work with is easily one of the most make-or-break aspects of influencer marketing, and it can be a real challenge.
Sure, there’s an abundance of video gaming influencers out there — but only the ones best suited to your brand and target audience will help get you closer to your marketing goals and objectives. With the wrong type of influencer, you’re unlikely to get the results you’re hoping for.
Know your goals
It is important to know your engagement goals before hiring gaming influencers. While there could be many different reasons why you’re drawn to a certain gaming influencer, you should start by identifying exactly how much engagement you want to see on your sponsored content — starting here will help you set reasonable goals and targets for the rest of your campaign. Predicting audience size and engagement can be difficult, but gaming influencers will likely know their engagement metrics and can be a huge help in removing some of the guesswork for you.
Understand your target audience
Always take the age and demographic of your target audience into account. Ask yourself — will this streaming influencer be effective at connecting with and inspiring my target audience? Think of what you want your audience to do after tuning into the sponsored content, and then ask yourself if you think the influencer you have in mind could get them to take that action. Keep in mind that any content you collaborate on should stay true to their own voice and ethos so that it actually resonates with their audience or community.
Consider using an influencer marketing agency
As we mentioned before, this is a saturated space and it’s easy to become quickly overwhelmed. Clicking through pages and pages of Twitch and YouTube influencers can be tedious, especially if you don’t know exactly who or what you’re looking for — or what a fair deal would look like.
If you’re new to influencer marketing, you might consider working with an agency who has a strong influencer network and can help you strike a deal with the most popular influencers — and work out a solid deal that will meet your ROI expectations. Agencies with influencer connections can help you get more bang for your buck because they get your game into the hands of influencers who will genuinely like playing it — and this means a lot to your target audience.
What to Look for in Twitch Influencers
As with all types of marketing, your goals and objectives should shape the kind of gaming influencer you ask to promote your game.
Here are some of the things you should almost always consider when evaluating Twitch influencers.
- The genre of gaming that an influencer streams in, such as action or RPG.
- The types of video games the influencer plays, and whether your target audience is interested in that genre of game.
- How active is your potential gaming influencer? You will ideally want to work with game influencers who broadcast on a regular basis, so they can help you tap into their captive audience.
- How positive are the sentiments coming from your potential influencer’s community? Is the influencer popular with their audience, or do they frequently receive negative comments? Are they polarizing or does it seem like everyone in your target audience respects them?
What to Look for in YouTube Influencers
Keep in mind that in terms of website visits per month, YouTube is up there with Facebook. According to a 2017 State of the Creator Economy SOCE study, more people visit YouTube each year than Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or any other social media website. This makes the platform more saturated with influencers (and viewers) and introduces a few more considerations to keep in mind when seeking out an influencer.
Here are some of the things you should look for in YouTube influencers.
- Consider the influencer’s reach — defined as the number of subscribers or followers that a gaming influencer has on YouTube. You can easily estimate this with the number of followers, subscribers, or the number of visitors to their site, but keep in mind that the YouTube algorithm often puts video content in front of viewers who aren’t yet following the creator, so reach is often a bit higher than straightforward follower or subscriber counts.
- Relevance is another thing you should consider. To make a reasonable impact on your audience, your YouTube influencer has to be relevant and respected in your gaming niche. In other words, the influencer’s niche must align with your product and brand.
- Finally, engagement in the form of comments are mission critical to influencer marketing on YouTube. Large numbers of fans or followers is not enough — the YouTube algorithm like so many others feeds on actual engagement. Your YouTube influencer should receive a significant number of comments relative to their viewership and follower numbers. So as you research your options, don’t overlook the comment section.
If you’ve made it this far, it’s probably safe to assume that you know firsthand how hard it can be to cut through the noise and resonate with your audiences online. Gone are the days of seeing instantaneous results through traditional advertising methods — the move to online media has lowered the barrier for entry and made ads way less effective than in the past.
With the rapidly increasing consumption and popularity of “native” and authentic online media, now is the time to try out an influencer marketing strategy, and learning about the different types of gaming influencers is a great first step.
Not to mention, video is one of the most high performing types of content because it grabs attention and tends to be prioritized by algorithms on platforms from Instagram to Facebook, to — obviously — YouTube. Working with Twitch influencers and YouTube influencers lets you tap into the effectiveness and power of video for your indie game brand.
Moving away from conventional marketing and advertising like paid social ads is a great idea for game developers. Why not focus your energy on gaming influencers who usually have a direct line of contact with your target audience, and can deliver ROI quickly?
At Loopr, our strong gaming influencer network and creative approach means considerably less work is required on your end to achieve solid results from your influencer marketing campaigns. Instead of spending many months defining the target audience for your game and developing their trust, Loopr can help you find the right gaming influencers for your audience — and your budget. Get in touch today, we’d love to hear from you!
Can’t get enough of this stuff? Check out our video game PR case studies to learn how we’ve helped indie game developers and esports brands just like you.