For those of you who have ready my previous articles, you know by now that networking with other streamers is important. After all, being a streamer is like being an artist. Can you name a success artist, or musician, or any other kind of creator, who hasn't made a few friends in their field? Of course not! Streaming isn't a solo effort, and in order to grow you need to learn from others.
For those seeking advice of fellow broadcasters, two things come to mind: Communities and Teams.
"But Googie, aren't they the same thing?"
To which I would answer: No. Although many mistakenly interchange the two titles, the idea behind the two conglomerations of streamers are very different.
Streaming communities were born from the idea of getting together a bunch of streamers in a place where they can promote themselves, network with one another, and learn from each other. Originally, many of these groups started on Facebook, but with the introduction of communities on Twitch and the overwhelming popularity of Discord, the idea of what entails a streamer community evolved.
In most cases, the defining trait to a streaming community is that they are open to virtually all interested streamers. Thought they may have their own rules regarding conduct and how active streamers must be to remain in the community, the idea is that anyone can participate.
There are many types of streaming communities. Some center around one or more popular streamers who provide a network of mentorship and support to smaller streamers. Some communities are formed by a group of small-to-medium sized streamers looking to create a networking hub for others. Just about anyone with ambition can start their own community, with enough effort.
The advantage of being in a streaming community, if you haven't already guessed, is access to a large number of streamers to network with. For newer streamers, it provides a chance to see how other people do things, and learn from them. With proper networking, non-affiliates with the much-needed momentum boost to get their channel going. If you make an effort to regularly interact with communities, you'll likely net a few new viewers in your streams!
Stream teams are often confused with streaming communities, because many streamer communities have their own "team." A Stream team is most commonly defined as an exclusive collection of streamers dedicated to supporting one another. On Twitch, teams are started by a Partnered streamer, and members must be invited to the team. However, there are "unofficial teams" that pass off as "Twitch Communities," but function and act in the same way as an official Twitch team.
How supporting works tends to vary from team to team, and is often affected by the size of the team. Usually, it often involves regularly lurking and chatting in teammates' channels whenever you aren't streaming, or hosting/raiding one another's streams, however it can even extend beyond that. Some teams require that all team members retweet each other's "going live" tweets, while others may even require investing money into team merchandise or subbing one another. Here's a hint: stay away from the latter.
Beware - some Partnered content creators take advantage of newer streamers by promising the possibility of a huge raid in exchange for loyalty and subscribing to their channel. Avoid these kinds of "teams" at all costs. It's a sad reality, but these predatory streamers exist and only want to boost their own numbers by using smaller creators as stepping stones - knowing that the smaller streamers are just looking for an easy way to grow.
That said, there are plenty of supportive teams that are open to inviting smaller streamers. For example, Team with No Name prides itself on building a strong community and networking. Having spent the better part of a year with them, I saw firsthand how they welcomed smaller creators who were dedicated to the team and showed consistent growth, and in return the smaller creators were able to see enhanced growth in their channels.
Which one is the right fit for you?
Well first, let's review:
Potential Perks of Communities:
- Large network of streamers to connect with
- Open to anyone
- No requirements in terms participation or support
Potential Downsides of Communities:
- Less supportive than stream teams
- Some communities are just self-promotion black holes, with little genuine interaction
Potential Perks of Teams:
- Increasing your channel's footprint through additional avenues of exposure. eg. team pages
- Channel growth
- Merchandising opportunities
Potential Downsides of Teams:
- Requires significant time investment and commitment
- Most teams require exclusive dedication, so you can only usually join one at a time
If you're a newer streamer, it's best to start out with a few different communities and get a feel for your options. Early in your streaming career, you want to focus on networking with other streamers and finding like-minded content creators so that you can grow through learning together. While it might seem enticing to have that "Team" badge next to your stream title, you're likely not going to benefit greatly from it at this point. Take advantage of the fact that many communities are open, and that you can come and go as you please. Meet other broadcasters and learn from them. Share your own knowledge and support others. It's good to make streamer friends, because they understand the challenges you're inevitably going to face during your streaming career.
Once you've established yourself and your channel's community, you can start looking at stream teams. Shop around, and don't be afraid to turn down an offer if it isn't a perfect fit. A stream team reflects on the members involved, so you want to ensure the other streamers mesh well with you and your content, that your schedules align well, and that you stand to gain something in return for supporting your fellow teammates. Remember that by being on a team, you are essentially saying "Hey, I vouch for these broadcasters. I support them, and so should you!" If you genuinely like the people on your prospective team, it makes it a lot easier to support them. Do you research, and take your time. There's no rush!
Regardless of which one you choose, expect to put in a good amount of effort if you expect your channel to grow. Don't expect your numbers to double just because you started talking to other streamers. You'll need to be genuine about supporting others and helping your fellow broadcasters, and in return you'll see yourself grow. Additionally, joining either is not a reason to stop focusing on individual growth. Being a good streamer means constantly looking for ways to improve your content regardless of support from other creators!