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Creating a channel and building your audience

Streaming etiquette, building an audience and standing out

How to setup a channel

Twitch and Hitbox offer a comprehensive Dashboard and Channel page. The dashboard is generally used for managing various aspects of your channel. The bullet points below outline some of the features you can expect to use in your dashboard

  • Stream/Broadcast Title This is the title for your current or previous stream. Make sure to update this title before every stream as the information placed here is what will go out via email notification to your followers.
  • Game played This is where you enter the name of the game being played. If you’ve entered your game info into the Giant Bomb games database (click here if you haven’t) then your game will begin to show on lists like this that show you different people that are streaming your game and how many are watching! 
  • Commercials/Partnership These functions will be covered in the partnership section.
  • Polls/Giveways These are basically options to interact with you chat and also to reward loyal viewers, followers, subscribers, etc.
  • Hosting Hosting allows a different channel to be viewed on your unique channel idea. This is a great tool to highlight other people in your community playing your game or even to get exposure for your dev streams. Twitch uses the chat functionality (/host *channelname*) whereas Hitbox let’s you setup host functionality directly in the dashboard.
  • Chat You can manage your chat within the dashboard. For more information about managing chat, please see this post.
Here's an example of Hitbox's dashboard.
The channel/profile page is where your viewers will spend most of their time interacting with your content (ex: twitch.tv/channelname). Think of these as like Facebook pages you can customize to interact with your community. The bullet points below outline some items that you should include on your channel page.
  • Social Media Definitely useful to let your community know where they follow/contact you outside of the stream. If you have specific community managers streaming for you, it would also be helpful to include their information as well.
  • Streaming Schedule Let your community know when you’ll be streaming! One of the easiest ways to develop a community is to set and stick to a consistent streaming schedule. Be sure to include other time zones in the schedule as well!
  • Purchase/Pre-Order Links While you are showing off your game, make sure to let the viewers where they will be able to purchase it.
  • IndieGogo/Kickstarter Links If you are trying to accumulate funding for your game, streaming alphas or betas are a great way to show proof of concept and encourage people to support your project. You can even integrate a development stream as part of your fundraising perks!
  • About/Bio Tell people about your game and what kind of content you will be streamings with your game (community chats/playthroughs, developer chats, sneak peeks, etc.)
  • Chat Rules You can layout a code of conduct for your chat. You can read more about dealing with chat here.
Here’s a good example of channel/profile layout for a game developer.
Make your broadcast stand out
Using a variety of well designed overlays will help your stream stand out and be more attractive to new viewers. You want something that fits the overlay theme of game and content you are trying to produce, but also want to avoid a messy complicated overlay that can take away from the viewing experience. For a quick laugh and examples of bad layouts, I recommend checking out thisTwitter account. Below is an outline of some suggested overlays.
  • In-Game Overlay: This is your standard overlay for when you are showing gameplay. This is a great place to show your social media, add a webcam, and perhaps. For example below is a nice simple overlay that Sumo Digital put together for their Little Big Planet 3 community streams.
    • Intro Graphic/BRB Graphic: A simple graphic that lets the audience know when the stream is going to start or when it is on break. Some useful information to put on this graphic would be the schedule and social media links. Both Twitch and Hitbox allow for offline images to be added onto the channel page, which can be used to pass along information to your audience when your stream is offline. Below is a simple example of a BRB graphic.
  • Miscellaneous overlays: Some other overlays to consider are lower thirds for your caster’s names/social media, intro videos, and whatever else you feel might enhance your broadcast!
Cultivate an audience

Building a live stream audience isn’t an exact science, but there are some things you can do to help it grow as organically as possible.

  • Promote Every time you stream, you should post the info on all social media, forums, reddit,  wherever someone could be finding out info about your game. Also make sure to let people know to follow your channel so that they will get notifications for when ever you are online.
  • Talk The main draw of streaming is the interactive element. Reading and responding to the chat will compel a viewer to stay watching along with showing excitement or enthusiasm for what you are broadcasting.  As for what to talk about, it is completely up to you. Depending on who is running they stream, the caster might have some insights on the game that audience wouldn’t be able to know otherwise, like the design history of a gameplay system
  • Consistency Make sure to develop a schedule that you can maintain before starting to stream. Many people prefer to know when a stream will be live and will preemptively visit the channel. Think of it as waiting for your favorite TV show to air.  Impromptu streams are great as well, but make sure it doesn’t come at the sacrifice of the scheduled show.
  • Interact If you can find another person streaming your game or finding a popular streamer who might be interested in your game, that is a create opportunity to gain exposure for your channel and game.  You can have guest streamers broadcast to your channel or ask the popular users to host your channel. You can also request from Twitch the ability to create
  • Incentivize People are always like chances to win things for free. Things like free game codes or beta access are great ways to reward things like hitting viewer or follower goals. If you decide to offer subscriptions, these would also be great perks as well.
Create a positive experience
Stream chat can be one of the best or worst things about your streaming experience. Generally when you first start out, you may not have many viewers, so chat interaction can be very minimal or you may end up only talking to a few people every time you broadcast. As your channel grows and you gain more viewers, it becomes exciting to be able to interact with so many people, but the anonymous nature of the internet means that there will be abusive viewers. Therefore here are some helpful tools and tips to help manage the chat.
  • Chat Commands/Tools Make sure to learn the chat commands or tools that are integrated inTwitch and Hitbox. These will give you the basic toolset to deal with spam or offensive chat, plus are essential for setting up advanced security like a chat bot. Especially useful commands are those that activate slow or follower mode.
  • Moderators Make sure to carefully select that are active in managing the chat. Many ask to become moderators as a sort of status symbol, but do not actively moderate the chat.
  • Updating Chat in case of error If you encounter an issue during your broadcast (hardware/software failure, internet issues, etc.) try your best to let your chat know you see the issues and that your are trying to resolve them.
  • Chat bot Perhaps the most useful tool is setting up a chat bot to manage your chat. There is a wide variety of chat bots available, however we’ve made a guide for one of the easier to use bots, Xanbot.
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