One of the biggest challenges in streaming is getting people to come back to your channel after their initial discovery. This happens to EVERYONE starting out. For those of us who aspire to have 8M subs one day, figuring out how to keep viewers engaged and build that return audience is a missing piece of the puzzle.
These 3 steps can help: first, make it as easy and simple as possible for your viewers to tune in. Second, be engaging on stream when you do have their attention. Third, create offline content and spaces to keep them involved until you go live again.
✨ Let's break it down. ✨
Step #1: Make it as easy as possible for your viewers
To build a return audience, you have to be consistent in your streams. It'll make it easier on your viewers if they know what to expect. What this looks like in practice is creating a schedule that works for you and your content, but also your target audience. If your main focus is streaming vintage arcade games and your target audience are older, mostly over 30s who work 9-5 M-F, you definitely don't want to stream at 10 AM on Thursdays. Create a schedule and commit to it. It's always better to start with fewer time slots that you know you'll be able to do, then to have multiple streams scheduled only to have to cancel at the last second when life comes up.
In terms of consistency, try to stream at the same time each day or night, if possible. It's easier for your followers to remember "8PM EST W-F-Sun" as opposed to "3 PM EST Wednesdays, 5 PM EST Fridays, 7:30 PM EST Sundays." Show up either on time, or early to your stream. In our fast paced content world, you only have minutes if not seconds to hold someone's attention, and being late to your own scheduled stream can really make people lose interest fast.
Use multiple platforms to notify followers of either your upcoming stream, or in case you do need to change your schedule. These notifications will help increase the awareness around your stream and make it easier for viewers to tune in.
Step #2: Be engaging on stream when someone joins
When you do have their attention, even if it's for a few seconds or minutes, you'll want to be engaging. You can do this by saying hello and welcoming new viewers to your stream. You can call out their names and make them feel seen. Even if you only have lurkers in your channel, keep the conversation going and ask them questions about their day, or tell them a story about yours. Other topics you can talk about include why you started to stream, or the game you're currently playing. Don't be afraid to repeat a conversation that you've already had before for new viewers.
There are other ways to engage your viewers -- you can use alerts, soundbites, or gifs to welcome them and hold their attention while you bring the energy and strike up a conversation.
Step #3: Create offline content and spaces to fill the gaps between your streams
Use VODs to show viewers what your channel is all about. This will communicate to new visitors that you're a creator who regularly puts out new content, and there's more to come. When you post a new VOD, make sure you highlight or feature it on your channel and use this opportunity to notify your existing followers. Whether it's a VOD or a post on social media, make sure there's a CTA (call to action) attached that links to your main stream.
Create a home for your community offline -- whether it's on Discord, Facebook Groups, Guilded, Reddit, etc. Wherever it is, make yourself available there to allow your audience to interact with you offline. Many of these platforms have features similar to Discord's announcement channels that will allow you to share your live notification, so encourage your viewers to follow and turn on those notifications. This will increase awareness and make it easier for them to transition into being a return viewer.