12th Jul 2021
3 Min Read

VIDEO | IC lessons from Twitch

Tony Stewart
Tony Stewart
Digital Transformation

During lockdown, a few friends and I started hosting Twitch streams. Twitch is a video-based social platform that allows you to host live video streams and share what you’re doing. It was created for folks to ‘stream’ computer game playthroughs with their own commentary, insights and reactions. But, as the tool is so flexible and interactive, Twitch is also used to host chats, online performances and tutorials.

I use Twitch to play computer games while members of my community jump in to chat about the game, about ourselves, and interact which makes the whole experience a ton of fun.

Being part of an online community like this has highlighted some really interesting things; community observations that are certainly applicable to the online communities many internal communications professionals are nurturing and cultivating in their businesses right now.

Narrow and deep communities are a good thing

You might want hundreds of followers on Instagram, or tons of friends on Facebook, but Twitch excels when you’ve built a close community, a handful of regular followers who tune in and interact with your stream. Sure, there are Twitchers that have zillions of followers, but, in my humble opinion, that’s not really where the platform shines.

These fewer, deeper connections - interacting and conversing with people you recognise, get to know and get to share experiences with - are more valuable and exciting.

It’s absolutely a lesson in quality over quality, and shows that it’s important to see, support and nurture those small but powerful communities in your business, too.

I’ve spoken about this before; often these ‘narrow and deep’ communities will be employee resource groups; the Women’s Network, the LGBTQIA+ group, the Netflix recommendations group. This is where really wonderful things can happen in your online employee communities, so make sure you give them plenty of TLC.

Drop the filters

An Instagram post will often be a single favourite photo, chosen from several versions before being filtered, polished and shared. it’s perfect, it’s shiny, but it’s also very not ‘real’.

On Twitch, you’re live for several hours. There are no filters - both in terms of the visuals or the commentary. It’s this ‘realness’ that makes the experience exciting, engaging and authentic to your audience.

That can be quite scary for some. We often get a bit scared to share our true selves and this rings true for business leaders, too. But this authenticity and realness lies at the heart of why the communities on Twitch are so strong, loyal and rich.

This kind of raw and real interaction can absolutely apply to how we communicate with our employees as well.

Peer recommendations are powerful

On Twitch, it’s not easy to re-share your content and make your channel ‘find-able’. Apart from the heavily curated Twitch homepage, I’d say the community is somewhat tricky to navigate.

This is where peer recommendations come into play. During a stream, you might ’Shoutout’ another Streamer you’re a fan of, so that the people in your community can check them out.

Or, when you finish a stream, you can ‘raid’ another streamer who’s mid-stream, so that the audience that just watched you, continue to engage in the community. It‘s another great way to share endorsement and community support.

This is hugely powerful. A personal endorsement really is the best kind of marketing. Ensuring that people in your business are being vocal and sharing highlights from the best internal groups and communities they’re a part of will do wonders for their reach and memberships.

Interactivity is key

When we talk about Town Halls, live Q&A and other two-way online conversations, it’s often very ‘dialogue based’. That is, you often hear IC folks facilitate and host Q&A, ‘ask me anything‘ sessions or events that ask for quite a lot of employee input - questions, statements, opinions.

That’s great and we love to see it; but sometimes employees don’t have a lot to say, even though they still want to be ‘seen’.

Sound alerts, such as applauses or cheers, sentiment buttons such as love or confused, or emotes that carry a different message, are all powerful, accessible ways for your employees to interact with online content too.

A picture says a thousand words and emotes within a chat can really help understand the feeling of a particular message. Sound alerts mean viewers can contribute to the stream in their own way - this not only makes it exciting for them, but gives realtime feedback to the presenter and makes the stream so much more interesting for them too. It‘s a win win.

So how could you use these principles to make your Town Halls and management meetings more engaging?

My Twitch journey is still super-new, but I couldn’t make these powerful observations about online community and not share them with you; us internal communicators are always looking for ways to facilitate and strengthen the connection between our people, and our leaders. I think these ideas can really help with that.

And, of course, if you’d like to join me on Twitch; I’m there every Wednesday at 7:30pm CET - twitch.tv/rockissponge

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