Building a Community
and what your audience does for you
Top 3 Mistakes creators make when it
comes to community
1: Not responding to comments on YouTube
2: Not responding to chatters on Twitch
3: Giving up on the community and focusing on bad goals
In the next several pages I’m going to be telling you that you need to build a lot of things. You need to build a name, you need to build a channel, you need to build a schedule, you need to build a business, and you need to build a community.
It is going to seem like you are never done building things during your journey as a content creator. This is 100% the way it works. If you want to be successful with your content creation you are going to be building things, tearing down things, rebuilding things constantly.
The word community should be considered a synonym for viewers. When you think like that, it is going to give you a greater respect for what you are doing. If you are familiar with the Walking Dead, Negan says “People are a resource. Money on the table. People are the foundation of what we are building here.”
A sad truth about breaking into content creation is that pretty much every market, every genre, every stage, every platform is saturated. Unless you get incredibly lucky and you can break in on some amazing new venue when it is brand new territory, you are going to have to muscle in, throw some elbows, and carve out a spot for yourself.
Why new creators fail
The reason why most new creators fail is because they don’t heart. If you remember Gene Hackman in The Replacements, he says you need “Heart. Miles and Miles of Heart.”
It doesn’t matter if you are going into this as a career or as a hobby, you have to understand there is almost no discoverability for new creators.
I know the first thing some critics are going to point out to me. The fact is, on this channel, my Jahlon channel, I have videos on YouTube for helping creators that have sub 100 views. The reason I make them is so that these written articles have a visual component, but because I haven’t cracked the algorithm on those videos they don’t get pushed to a lot of people. I’m also not surprised at their performance because I’m not trying to push them out to be viral videos. I have had success doing that on video game YouTube videos, but that is a different product, so you market a different product differently.
When you have a thriving community, you can drop a brand-new YouTube video into your community. In the first few hours of you pushing the video to yoru community it should get a bunch of views, likes, comments, and shares. This is one way that you crack the algorithm. By getting an initial surge of engagements on the video, YouTube will think the video is good, so they will start to offer it to more people (impressions). If you’ve done your job with title and thumbnail then people will start to click into the video (Click Through) and the video will get more views, and if those new viewers also engage on the video with likes and comments, then the cycle will continue.
As you see here, you doing your job making the video was only half the recipe for success. It was your community doing their job that helped the video get more momentum.
For your own reflection: Think of a video when you see it. If the video has a few thousand views, how do you feel about that video. Now, how do you feel about a video when it only has 50 views. If you have to choose between a video with 5,000 views and 50 views on the same topic, which one do you look at? I’m betting the one with 5,000 views. You assume that it is the better video because it has more views.
For streamers, there is almost no discoverability on Twitch. If you are just starting out streaming, you need to expect to have a lot of shows where you have only one viewer (and that one viewer is yourself from your phone). If you don’t know why you should be watching from your phone, read The First Follower article.
With that said one of the worst pieces of advice I hear given to new streamers is you just need to 1) keep streaming and 2) stream more. Whenever I hear (or read) that I always offer the following sagely wisdom:
If you always do; what you’ve always done
Then you’ll always get, what you always got
If you are getting 2-3 viewers every time you stream, and it’s been that way for months, then why would you follow the advice to stream more? If streaming more was the solution you would have already grown from 2-3 to 4-5 and from 4-5 to 6-8. If you stream more you are going to keep streaming to 2-3 viewers.
Instead, you need to focus on understanding who are the 2-3 viewers. Is it always the same 2-3 people? Or is it new people? If its always new people, then you don’t have a discoverability problem you have a retention problem. How you solve that will be different than if you have the same 2-3 people all the time, then you have a discoverability problem. The trick is, even if you only have 2-3 regulars, if you make them part of the show, make them part of the process then they will do a lot of work for you.
For Twitch, your community is going to be there when you go live. You won’t be there for 20-30 minutes with 0 viewers. Instead, you will often times have viewers who are waiting for you to go live. Part of this is from having a community, the other part of it is from having a consistent schedule.
Let me share with you, one of the best feelings in the world is hitting Start Stream, doing your social media push, and by the time you look back over at the screen you already have people chatting and 10-15 viewers. That not only sets your mood for the show, but it also gets you off the bottom of the pile when it comes time for other viewers to find someone tow watch.
The only way you are going to grow on Twitch (or any streaming platform) is if you focus on building a community.
For your own reflection: When you go looking for a streamer in a new category, which streamer do you immediately head to? Do you sort by High to Low, Low to High, or Recommended? I’m not sure what you do, but until I became a content creator, I never really sorted Low to High. You can find any number of streamers with 0 viewers. As we have already talked about, you should never be streaming to 0 viewers, you should always be streaming to at least 1 viewer.
For both of these platforms, your community will carry your videos and streams to audiences you didn’t even know existed and you would have never had access to. Friends, family, guilds, other creators, other networks, your community will extend your reach like 10, 20, 50, 100 people in a marketing department.
I’ve had my content pushed into Brazilian and Russian communities, and I don’t speak Portuguese or Russian. However, an extra 2.5% views are an extra 2.5% views. When you are first growing you can’t afford to be picky on where your initial views come from.
Why would you want to build a community versus other goals?
Nearly every new YouTuber or new Streamer is always asking “How do I get monetized” or “How do I make affiliate”. These are horrible goals. Remember how I said every genre is saturated? Well, why are you worried about making money on a product before you even know if the product is good? How will you know the product is good? When people watch it. Now we have come full circle in marketing. How do we get more views for our content?
Instead of worrying about getting to an arbitrary number, like 1,000 subscribers on YouTube to get monetized, worry about the 27 people who already like your content. There is little value in worrying about subscriber number 999, when you don’t even have subscriber 28. Don’t just treat your viewers like nameless, faceless people out there in the ether, treat them like flesh and blood customers.
A business absolutely devoted to service will have only one worry about profits. They will be embarrassingly large. Henry Ford
If you focus on the people in your community, your product will grow. That product being your brand, your streams, your videos, whatever your product is. Not focusing on your community is probably why you haven’t grown. Simply because you aren’t putting your efforts in the right places.
How to grow a community
The most important part of growing a community is to make your initial core group of followers part of the process. In the Twitch Section I talk about the First follower Ted Talk by Derek Sivers. That first follower is actually more important to the process of community growth than you are. That person not only gives your efforts validation, but they are going to be representative of the voice of the customer, because that first follower is your only customer. As you get more customers (viewers) then you have a louder voice and you can work on the pendulum swing of what works and more importantly what doesn’t work.
Your community will let you know when you have missed the mark. They will let you know when you have gone off the beaten path when it comes to your topics on your show, your moderation, your schedule, your show times, etc. Remember, when you are acting as a content creator, you aren’t actually doing this for you. You can play whatever game you want, whenever you want, and you never have to have another person involved when you are playing games for yourself. If you are trying to do this as a hustle or a career, then yes, the viewer’s opinions do in fact matter. You are nothing without those viewers.
Discord – The First Tool
If you build it, they will come, but build what? A community? No, a Discord.
If you are building a community you need to have a 24/7 venue where that community can congregate. There are a lot of tools that let you do things like this, but Discord is by the far the most common. Now, you don’t have to use Discord, you could try using Guilded, you could try setting up a forum, but if you want to go with the platform that is most likely to produce the community you want, I recommend you use Discord.
Discord gets more and more powerful every month with new features. The big thing with Discord is that people can have almost 24/7 access to you. Obviously, you do in fact sleep, but they can ping you, they can message you, they can be in contact with you. A properly set up Discord will have places where your viewers can talk to each other, leave feedback, share ideas, etc.
So not only can your fans communicate with you, but they can also communicate with each other. This creates engagement for the fans that was made by them for them, without any of your precious time involved. That’s a win-win situation right there.
Notify People when you have Product
Discord allows you to send out notifications to people who want them. You can use MEE6 or YAGPDB.XYZ to set up roles that allow people to access specific channels, get notifications when you post videos or go live on Twitch, basically the sky is the limit.
One note, I would absolutely not allow your bots to ping @everyone on Discord. This will get obnoxious very quickly. Instead set up a role on your Discord called “Notify Me” and then use a role bot to allow people to self-select.
Create a Feedback Channel
Another great thing you can do is to set up a role on your Discord called Feedback, and then create a Feedback Channel. Before you make a decision about, well honestly just about anything, then you can put the idea in the #feedback channel and ping all the @feedback people. This makes them part of the process, and this shows them you are dedicated to your community.
This works both ways for you. If you post an idea and everyone loves it, they will feel that their feedback helped reach this decision. Even though they aren’t actually guiding the decision (since after all you come up with the idea already and gave it to them) the way the customer will feel is what is important. Likewise, if you think you have an amazing idea and you post it to your feedback channel and the majority response is negative, then you know that your customers won’t be receptive to the idea.
Now, you could still go through with the idea, because after all you have to call the shots, but at least you know the reception will be negative. Also, realize, if you make a decision after asking for feedback, then you have to accept that some of your viewers will feel alienated that you didn’t listen to them. The trick to growing to make sure that you are always going in the direction that currently gets you the largest approval rating.
YouTube Community Building
We previously talked about pushing a YouTube video to your community so that it gest a lot of early engagement, but what about the other things that you can do with your community and YouTube videos? Your viewers are your first line of defense against mistakes and typos. If you put a video out to your community a few days in advance, if there are any mistakes, they will catch them and you can take the video down and get it corrected, before its out there with a lot more eyes on it.
Also, for YouTubers are you answering each and every comment you get? I see a ton of YouTubers who do not answer comments and I’m floored by this. Sure, when you get to the point where you are getting tens of thousands of comments a day it might be hard to answer them all, but when you are just getting started you can without a doubt answer a few dozen comments, maybe even a hundred comments a day. If a video has 50 views, and it has three comments and none of those comments have been answered by the creator, you just sort of know that creator isn’t going to be growing quickly. They are literally missing one of the easiest ways to get extra engagements, extra followers, extra supporters.
Streamers Community Building
For streamers, community building is a little different. One major reason why community building is different is because Twitch itself is a community. Unlike YouTube where a viewer leaves a comment that should (but often doesn’t) get answered at some point in the future, Twitch interaction is much closer to real time. If viewers are chatting you should be engaging with each and every comment. Again, this is something that you will have to do when you are just starting off, and you may have to sacrifice it as you continue to grow.
For Streamers, remember when you are engaging with your audience it is a two-way conversation but it is not one on equal footing. You have the power of your voice, but they have to type out what they are trying to say. This is another reason why the Discord works so well. This allows you to be approachable on an equal footing, and that is something that your viewers are going to respect and appreciate.
This does not mean that streamers shouldn’t be putting together a Discord. Streamers, an offline community is the perfect opportunity for you to ask for feedback about your show when you aren’t live. There is a difference between being in the performing artist mindset where you are trying to have a good show, and your producer mindset when you are reviewing your show and trying to make it better.
Discord also allows you to set up Events, which are basically little reminders of when you will be going live and that you have in fact gone live. Setting up a community won’t automatically get you followers, but when you do have followers who are interested in what you are doing, they will know when you have gone live and you won’t start your show streaming to 0 people.
Remember, people are the foundation of what you are building. Always focus on the people. They serve as your in-house marketing when you are first getting started, they serve as the cornerstone of your community, and they will be with you on every step of the journey.