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Your Guide to Collaborating With Streamers to Drive Positive ROI

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As live streaming online becomes an increasingly popular form of interactive entertainment, collaborative marketing with influential streamers is an effective tactic that provides an immediate return on investment (ROI). My company currently partners with 1,700-plus content creators in the gaming, tech, and broader entertainment industry. In this article, I’ll share some of my key learnings over the past decade

First, it’s important to understand that streamers are not mere entertainers. Consider them business people in the media industry, whose peak viewership can rival the biggest TV news outlets. They accrue passionate, loyal followers due to the engaging content they create, the games they play, the teams they join, and the platform they use. 

The more visible the streamer, the larger the revenue deals they secure—starting with media content rights, direct donations, subscription services, advertising, and sponsorships. The stars may move on to brand collaborations in crossover industries, company ownership, merchandising, and licensing.

It’s essential to treat streamers as true collaborative partners by building reciprocal relationships that go beyond the merely transactional. The content you propose must be a natural fit and feel authentic to their audience so that you both profit.

Separate fact from fiction

For the marketer looking to collaborate with streaming content creators, it’s important to have a clear idea of expected results and to separate myth from reality.

Myth 1: Marketing with streamers is hard and very expensive. 

The reality is that it’s possible to do this with zero budget, although inspiring streamers might be challenging. However, if you’re counting every penny and aiming for a specific ROI, marketing with streamers may not be for you.

Myth 2: If I pay once, I’ll always have to pay. 

If you’re clever about your campaign rollout,  you can pay once and create a snowball effect, as your original partner inspires other creators to check out your game or product over time. 

Myth 3: I need a team to do it.  

It’s not necessary to hire a dedicated influencer manager or agency — not in the beginning, at least. Ideally, you coordinate among streamers to give your game or product the greatest visibility across multiple platforms at once. The downside is that you should expect this to take up a fair amount of time. 

Choose wisely

Deciding which streamers you want to partner with is not something to take lightly. When selecting your potential creator partners, there are a few pitfalls that are easy to avoid.

  • Understand what your game is and what it isn’t. If your game falls under the horror genre, a chess streamer isn’t your ideal influencer. Seek out creators who stream the same “vibe” as your game promotes. 

  • Evaluate the different streaming platforms. For example, Facebook has a big gaming profile in Latin America, while Twitch and YouTube are popular with English speakers. You also want to keep in mind the game itself, as Facebook and YouTube are better suited for mobile games than Twitch. 

  • Identify your “deal breakers.” The streamers you’re looking for should stream in the language of the markets you’re targeting, offer a stable viewership in the past 30-90 days, stream a variety of games, and not be toxic. 

Despite the extra effort involved, it can be more beneficial to work with multiple smaller streamers than to invest all your efforts into one big streamer. Someone with thousands of concurrent viewers may not be able to engage with them as a smaller streamer can.

Once you’ve identified the right people and platforms, you can make your initial approach. An agency can make introductions for you, but Twitter is also effective at opening direct conversations.

Trust is key

I design my collaborations with streamers around three frameworks: user acquisition, content, and community.  

Good: User Acquisition. The focus here is on attracting more viewers so that you can directly see the impact of your advertising through promotional codes or clickable links. You define the payment model for creators (fixed revenue share or mixed model, etc.), determine the metrics for success, and negotiate with the creators (easier through an agency). This model is comfortable for publishers and developers since it’s easy to view, track, and analyze ROI. It also works well as an always-on campaign that can be improved through iteration. 

However, there are a number of drawbacks that prevent this from being particularly effective with streamers. There are issues with tracking through links and codes, as people might use a separate device for watching the streamer, from one for purchasing your product. They might also forget the code so that the purchases are not attributed correctly. And then there’s the issue of less sincere audience engagement, if streamers are focused on clicks rather than building deeper relationships. Overall, it’s a harder partnership to negotiate and sustain. 

Better: Content. This collaboration results in more valuable, authentic, potentially evergreen content that can be repurposed for other assets and social media. It may strike a chord with professional media. And it furthers long-term relationships with streamers because you become true partners on a mutually successful project. 

You start by developing a fun, interesting concept, identifying the creators who seem a natural fit, refining the concept with the streamers, and going into production. The challenges here are that it requires creativity and content moderation — and can also become expensive. The critical factor is to trust your streamer partners and avoid narrowly scripting the content. Instead, collaborate with them to refine the concept, but allow them to modify it so it best engages their audience. If you become too controlling and dictate the vision, you may waste your budget on content that’s less relevant to the audience and smells of inauthenticity.

Best: Community.  The most successful framework for me is to nurture a partnership program that offers streamers the opportunity to generate revenue and rewards, become better streamers, and network within a community. Start by approaching streamers for whom your game will be relevant and work to grow this community. This type of collaboration results in engaging, quality, reusable content, ongoing relationships, and higher virality for both the game and the partnership. It can also be done on little to no up-front budget (if you have a revenue-sharing system), although it does require a lot of manual work and probably a dedicated team member.

Invest in long-term partnerships 

Regardless of the type of strategy you follow for working with streaming content creators, the execution must be as beneficial for the streamer as for your company. Invest in building legitimate relationships with your creators:

  • Reach out through social media, join their communities, watch their streams, and donate to their channel.

  • Meet up in your offices, co-stream your games, play together, and host them for meals at events.

  • Show appreciation by listening to their feedback, running joint paid promotions, rewarding their communities, and — most importantly — trusting their creativity.

If you can offer streamers an equal partnership, they’ll quickly see the advantage of collaborating — not just once, but well into the future.  

[Editor's note: This is a contributed article from Voicemod. Streaming Media accepts vendor bylines based solely on their value to our readers.]

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