9 ways creators can use perks to increase community engagement
September 25, 2022
5 min read
In 2022, Twitch reported having over 9 million active streamers every month. While Twitch is currently the largest streaming platform, there are millions more streaming creators. Because of the endless number of options for viewers, it can be difficult for new creators to break into the space and establish a loyal fanbase. And for creators that already have an established set of fans, they must continue to offer compelling reasons for fans to keep coming back.
This article discusses nine ways streamers go above and beyond to create engaging experiences for their fans.
1. Private groups, clubs, and Discords
Many streamers have their own Discord server for their community. Discord servers, Facebook groups, and even Instagram can provide a space for fans to interact with you, the streamer, and other fans.
For creators looking to provide a space for their community to interact with each other, the Discords or other groups are typically free to join. We recommend this option, especially if you have one or more moderators that can help run the group.
If you are looking to provide more access to yourself or your content, then private Discord servers or roles that grant access to private chat/voice channels are a great option.
LS, a League of Legends streamer, offers several levels of support that his supporters can purchase. From a $10/month tier that grants access to the largest private channels to a $300/month option that gives the supporter a direct line to LS and his video editing staff, it’s safe to say that there’s an excellent option for any dollar amount that someone is willing to pay.
2. Exclusive merchandise
Merchandise, especially clothing merchandise, has been a surefire way for creators to raise funds for as long as streaming has been around. Some more prominent creators like StoneMountain64 offer multiple collections that consistently sell out shortly after they drop.
On-demand printing services like Printify make it easy for smaller creators to offer merchandise without the high up-front costs. One downside to this option is that they typically take a large share of the revenue.
But what about fans that are looking for one-of-a-kind or exclusive merchandise? In Team Liquid’s Liquid+ app, fans can earn their way to signed jerseys from their favorite athletes. For the most dedicated fans, offering something that has significant sentimental value both rewards them for their loyalty and allows them to buy a coveted piece of memorabilia.
The simplest and most common way streamers interact with their supporters is by reading and responding to their chat while streaming. Depending on the streamer and the size of their audience, chat may be open to everyone, to followers, or to subscribers.
To take this further, streamers can set up sessions dedicated to interacting with their viewers. Streamers like kaitlyn frequently host supporters-only games where her fans can come and play a few games with her.
Other creators like CinnamonToastKen host Q&A sessions where their supporters can ask anything from tips on how to get better at their favorite game to their opinions about recent events to what’s new in the creator’s life.
Regardless of what audience participation content you choose to create, it will show your supporters that you value your interactions with them.
4. Voting rights in members-only polls
While this phenomenon is not new, it has recently gained popularity in the streaming community. Rushlock, an EVE online streamer, gives supporters that gift subs the option to vote on which game he’ll play next. At the end of the week, he tallies up all the votes and spends the day playing whichever game the community voted for most.
Voting is an excellent way for streamers to give their supporters input on the content of their stream. Not only does it give supporters content that they want, but it also gives them a greater sense of connectedness with the streamer.
On a larger scale, we can look at how Immortals committed to this concept on a massive scale. In a recent announcement, Immortals announced that they’d be partnering with Socios.com to launch a “fan token” that grants owners voting rights in exclusive polls, among other things.
5. Discounts on merchandise
In addition to exclusive merchandise, creators can choose to offer discounts for dedicated supporters. The practice is very similar to loyalty programs offered by major retailers.
We’ve recognized this as a simple but effective way for creators to give back to their supporters through a discount. This strategy will surely increase your merchandise revenue when paired with exclusive or one-of-a-kind offerings.
6. Early or exclusive access to content
This can come in many forms. Whichever makes the most sense for you largely relies on your specific community. However, we can break it down into three basic types.
First, there’s early access to content. This is especially effective if you offer more than one type of content. Take, for example, The Valleyfolk. They produce podcasts, streamers, pre-recorded video content, and more. Supporters get exclusive sneak peeks and early access to videos before everyone else can see them.
Second, there’s access to content after a stream. While Twitch and other streaming platforms allow streamers to keep their prior streams, creators like Big Jet TV offer supporter-only access to the entire archive of their streams. This is typically, but not exclusively, used when the streamer’s primary platform does not retain all prior streams.
Third, streamers can host supporter-only streams or publish bonus content. The Opening Arguments podcast, a hilarious and informative podcast about current events through the eyes of a lawyer and a comedian, offers all of their interviews and exclusive episodes to any supporters with a $5 monthly subscription. This “freemium” model is great for creators that only publish a short, edited version of the content they record (e.g. interviews, YouTube videos, etc.).
7. In-person events
As the world recovers from the pandemic, we’ve seen an enormous increase in demand for in-person events. And while streaming initially started as a long-distance activity, fans are increasingly eager to pay for the opportunity to meet their favorite streamers in person.
Events like TimTheTatman’s Tailgate and Nickmercs’ MFAM BBQ show that creators can draw enormous crowds of fans to in-person events. While these events are currently hosted by some of the biggest names in the streaming industry, we predict that we’ll see smaller streamers host their own events more frequently in the near future.
8. Supporter recognition
Most streamers prominently display donation leaderboards and live donation overlays on their stream. This gives supporters instant gratification for subscribing or donating.
For a higher price point, some creators offer more permanent recognition to their supporters. Some creators like VideoGame Awesome! put their highest-tier supporters’ names in the credits of each of their videos. Other creators like Andrew and Thomas from the Opening Arguments podcast dedicate time every month to give every subscriber a shout-out on stream for their financial support.
9. Digital collectibles
Digital collectibles took the streaming scene by storm during the 2021 NFT boom. While digital collectibles don’t need to be NFTs, we’ve seen large Esports organizations like 100 Thieves and Optic release digital collectibles for their fans.
Many of these collectibles are purely decorative. Others, however, offer utility for the owners of the collectibles. While they aren’t a streamer, we wrote about how financial literacy startup Ostrich released a set of NFTs that offer owners exclusive in-app functionality, Q&As with the company’s founders, and much more.
This may seem obvious, but we predict that digital token and perk ownership will become increasingly popular in the coming years.