Guide to Twitch Tags and Categories
Discoverability has been a never-ending sticking point between streamers, viewers and Twitch itself. Now with the demise of Communities (which were never popular to begin with…) and the explosion of IRL, Twitch has released Tags and Categories.
In this guide, we’ll talk about what Tags are, why communities were removed, how streamers should use tags and what is up with all these new categories!
What are Tags (and why were communities removed?)
Not only has Twitch absolutely exploded in popularity over the past 2 years, but certain games like Fortnite and League of Legends have seen a huge increase in the streamers broadcasting them. This has led to a viewing issue where viewers will not scroll through thousands of tiny thumbnails to find their perfect stream… so they either stick with the top 10 in the game directory or just give up and move on.
“In May 2018, you could browse Fortnite streams and see as many as 18,000 different live channels in the directory. That’s a 6x increase even from just last year” — Twitch
Tags allow viewers to create filters (similar to how you’d search for new shoes by colour, price, and size), allowing them to find exactly what they are looking for, be it a game type, or a streamer.
While games’ tags are mostly genre-related (such as fighting, MOBA and Battle Royale), streamers have over 100 to choose from. These range from ‘educational’, ‘coaching’, to ‘multiplayer’, ‘squads’, achievement-hunters ‘100’, speed-racing and arts and craft ‘glasswork’, ‘woodwork’ and ‘painting’.
Certain games such as League of Legends and Overwatch have filters per the character you are playing. So if a viewer wants to watch a Junkrat main, they can easily find them!
“When you visit the Browse directory to find a new stream, you’ll now see a new option to use Tags when filtering results for Categories or Live Channels. Filtering by Tags can help you narrow in on a specific genre of game, but, for example, you can also be as specific as ‘Hero: Ana’ or ‘Competitive’ if you want to narrow down your options when browsing Overwatch streams.” — Twitch
Tags will appear alongside a stream title and your thumbnail. They have a prominent position to differentiate yourself from the thousands of other broadcasters in your chosen category or game.
Twitch have said that they are going to be using tags to determine who to show in every viewer’s homepage depending on their viewing behaviour.
THIS IS IMPORTANT. Because this is their algorithm deciding whether your stream will be shown to viewers who will likely love your content. This is a huge opportunity for streamers to find an audience who otherwise would not normally find them.
We’ll discuss the best ways to use Tags later, but it’s pretty simple. Honestly, just describe your stream.
What are categories? (and why was IRL removed?)
Over 2017, IRL had grown into one of the biggest ‘games’ on Twitch, often sitting in the top 5. However, it had become a mess of different genres, activities and hobbies.
With this in mind, Twitch broke IRL into 13 new directories:
- Special events
- Food & Drinks
- Sports & Fitness
- Talk Shows & Podcasts
- Just Chatting
- Makers & Crafting
- Tabletop RPGs
- Science & Technologies
- Music & Performing Arts
- Beauty & Body Art
- Travel & Outdoors
Is this a huge opportunity for streamers? Yes.
While IRL may not see the top 5 again (for now), these new categories will allow large partners and smaller, up-and-coming streamers stand out in their desired activities and communities. Alongside Tags, discoverability for streamers not playing games is at it’s best after years of languishing in the wilderness.
How should a streamer use tags?
Streamers have up to 5 tag options and they should be used to accurately describe your stream as much as possible. Think of them as 5 words you would use to tell your friends what your stream is like if they’ve never watched you before.
Don’t use tags that may be popular but are the opposite of what your stream is about. If you say you are ‘Playing With Viewers’ and you are refusing this, then you are just going to annoy the viewers you have brought into your stream — and a first impression is everything on Twitch!
Twitch themselves ask streamers to use tags to describe their stream as accurately as possible to help their recommendation tools
As an example, streamers who play competitively but do not apply the ‘Competitive’ tag would not be included in the list of recommended ‘Competitive’ streams. — Twitch
Your language is automatically added as a tag — it doesn’t look to take away from the 5 you can select.
Again, Twitch themselves have said they are using tags to find streamers to recommend for viewers on their homepage. So don’t forget using them!
How can a viewer use tags?
Within categories and games, there is a top navigation that used to just have language and ‘showing’ options (to see live channels and popular VODs). Now, alongside these there are additional filters where users can narrow down what they want to watch.
It’s a powerful feature and one that is not being utilised by streamers right now.
Example Twitch Tags:
Here’s some that I recommend you use (depending on the game/category you are streaming in):
- Achievement Hunting
- Auditory ASMR
- Beginner Players
- Behind the Scenes
- Body Painting
- Campaign Planning
- Casual Playthrough
- Contemporary Dance
- Deck Building
- Digital Art
- EU Server (there are APAC, KR and NA options too)
- Family Friendly
- First Playthrough
- Game Development
- Gaming News
- Graphic Design
- Let’s Play
- Magic Tricks
- Match Commentary
- Miniature Figures
- Music Performance (and Production)
- Party Game
- PC Building
- Pixel Art
- Playing with Viewers
- Pop Culture
- Reading Aloud
- Texas Hold’em
- Visual ASMR
- Web Development
- WR Attempts
- All pick
- End Game
- Live vlogging
Twitch is adding more and more of these every week — so if you have any ideas or you have feedback about existing ones, you can head here.
Who is The Emergence?
We are a gaming and streaming education website. We are dedicated to telling the stories of how your favourite gamers and broadcasters got to where they are and providing guides to help you start your streaming journey.
Written by Mark Longhurst.