Algorithms: Your Quick-Start Guide To Discoverability
Understanding best practices for YouTube, Facebook Gaming, and Twitch algorithms and how to increase your chances of being discovered.
Algorithms are the money-making secret sauce for content sharing platforms. They're the computational recipes that determine who's content is shown to other users. In today’s world, algorithms are designed with one goal in mind: to keep users on the platform for as long as possible.
Every one of these platforms battles over retaining the same pool of users, and they’re in a constant scramble to hire the brightest engineers in the world to write these algorithms, so it’s no surprise that they don’t want their inner workings leaked to competitors.
That said, companies do share some information about how to best leverage their content platforms, and more information has surfaced thanks to curious minds who run experiments to figure out how to make the most of these algorithms.
Like on other platforms, engagement data such as likes and comments provides the algorithm with a real-time feedback loop. What this is means is that the more your viewers are engaging with your content, the stronger the signals are that your content is worth sharing with more users. Comments and shares are what you want to see.
View duration is another key metric that the algo looks for. Retain your viewers for as long as possible to signal to the algorithm that your content is sticky, so talk to your audience and make sure they stick around.
YouTube wants to see your subscribers coming back to watch your streams. Commit to a schedule so your audience can expect when you’re going to be live. We can’t stress this enough. By building a routine for yourself, you’re helping your viewers get into a routine as well - the routine of watching your streams! And always be communicating when you’re going to be streaming.
Start thinking like a marketer. In your steam descriptions, stream titles, etc, make sure you’re including the title of the game that you’re streaming, and be concise. Don't clutter or try to stuff too may keywords into the title. This is super important for showing up in searches and recommendations.
Earlier we mentioned that the goal of the algorithms is to keep people around - YouTube does this by sending each user into a rabbit hole of relevant content. Therefore, make sure that your content is easy to categorize for YouTube's search engine. You want to package your stream up nicely so that it's easy for YouTube to serve it up to someone who they think might like it.
Another key factor is the thumbnail - use eye-catching content to draw the viewer's attention and increase the chances that they'll click on your video.
Your subscribers will get notified when you post a new video, so post your videos when your audience is most likely to be watching! You can also schedule them ahead of time to go public at the right hour.
Just like in the live videos, view duration is key metric that the algo looks for, so make sure that your content is put together in a way that keeps viewers hooked for the duration of your video. It's good food for thought during the production planning stage.
In addition, YouTube rewards creators that respond to comments with meaningful answers. We're not sure how the algorithm distinguishes between lazy and great replies, but it knows. 👀
Again, like in the live videos, use clear video descriptions and titles. Make sure you’re including the title of the game that you’re playing. Focusing on one or two keywords and including them in both the title and description is a good rule of thumb. Lastly, use the same recommendation logic and thumbnail tips that we mentioned in the YouTube Streaming section above.
Like YouTube, Facebook also looks for engagement from your viewers, so use those best practices on this platform as well. We also know a bit about how Facebook tests the stickiness of your content.
Facebook’s algorithm tests your content in small batches. It’ll show your stream to a few people, measure how your content performs, and then based on the performance, decide whether to increase the reach or not. It’s looking for people who actually watch it for a minute or longer, as well as how people are interacting with it. Comments are more valuable than likes to the algorithm, so make sure you're engaging your chat!
Facebook's algorithm also changes based on where you are in your streaming journey. For example, if you just got into the Level Up program, Facebook will push your channel to try and hype your channel. It's during these windows that you can see a boost in growth and where we would recommend giving 110%.
Twitch's recommendation system is kind of new. Previously, there was no recommendation system; Twitch would just list channels based on the amount of views. It really didn't give smaller creators much of a chance to grow. Now, Twitch says it's using machine learning to look at different factors such as chat velocity and other channel features, but they're still finding their footing.
We do know that if you typically play one game, you're more likely to have the algorithm recommend you to someone because you're easier to categorize. It's a little trickier for variety streamers because Twitch's algorithm has a harder time understanding them. Using tags and keywords to manually assist the recommendation engine can be helpful here.
A lot of the discovery on Twitch happens through people browsing the live channels and finding a stream with a lot of viewers or someone they're physically drawn to. Statistically speaking, streams with cams always see more views, unless a camera-less video already has a large viewer count, in which case it'll draw in more viewers that way.
Avoiding saturated games will allow you to be higher on the list of live channels. However, if you go with games that have no viewers, you're likely to find no viewers. So it's a balancing act of finding a game that works for your channel that isn't overly saturated but has viewers.
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