Streamer Tools: The Hidden Secret to Live Streaming Success

While a live streamer’s innate talent, personality, communication skills can help them reach a certain modicum of success, to really take it to the next level, live streaming apps must create products and tools that support streamers, whether that’s helping them grow their audience, provide motivation, or generate entertaining content.

So what are these tools and how do streamers use them? Let’s take a look at three main types: the motivators, the confidence boosters, and the relationship builders.

The Motivators:

These are the tools and features that allow streamers to quantify their success, set goals, and analyze their streams. Without these tools, streamers have less motivation to improve and with little data about their streams, it is hard for them to figure out what exactly needs improving.

One prominent example of a motivator is streamer levels. Chinese apps such as MOMO, YY, and Huajiao have detailed levels systems where streamers can increase their ranking based on time streamed per day, virtual gifts earned, number of followers, and more. As a streamer’s ranking goes up, they unlock additional privileges and are more likely to get promoted on the homepage of the app. Besides the privileges that are unlocked, levels also give streamers something to show off, a badge that shows that they are a top streamer worth paying attention to.

Current MOMO level (left) and what privileges are unlocked at each level (right)

Unlike the Chinese platforms, American video game streaming platform Twitch only offer two levels (which they refer to as Achievements) called Affiliate and Partner. In a recent interview for the Stream Wars podcast, Peter Yang, Senior Product Manager at Twitch explained why Twitch chose to only have two levels, “One very important lesson that we learned with Achievements is that just having levels and badges isn’t enough. We initially built a ton of achievements and the only ones that our users really cared about were the ones that allowed them to unlock real tangible rewards, which were the Affiliate and Partner levels.”

Another extremely motivating feature for live streamers is leaderboards, which, depending on the app, display lists of the top earning streamers by hour, day, or week.

Huajiao leaderboards show daily, weekly, and overall leaders

Data and analytics are very helpful when streamers are trying to assess their streams and figure out how they can improve. On the majority of apps, when a streamers finishes streaming they will be shown some general data points such as length of time streamed, total viewers, virtual gifts earned, etc. These can be used by streamers to determine the optimal days and times to stream, what activities their audience prefers, as well as being able to track whether or not their streams are improving over time.

Huajiao and Yizhibo post stream data (only visible to the live streamer)

The Confidence Boosters

Live streaming can be nerve racking for many people because of the nature of the medium itself — being on camera in front of a live audience. On top of that, unlike a Youtube video or an Instagram photo, there’s no opportunity to edit it prior to posting. While good lighting helps significantly, not all streamers can afford nice lighting equipment, especially when just starting out.

Yet confidence on screen is very important. Viewers are naturally attracted to confident people. So how do streaming apps boost streamer’s confidence? The answer lies in built-in beautification tools including airbrush, filters, and facemasks. Airbrush and filters improve lighting, reduce the appearance of dark eye circles, acne, and generally even out the streamer’s skin tone. Facemasks, which are similar to the flower crowns and puppy ears you see on Snapchat, add a bit of fun to the stream and for those lacking confidence can give them something to hide behind.

The Relationship Builders

It is crucial that streamers are given tools that help them develop strong relationships with both their audience and other streamers.

Relationship with other streamers:

Collaborating allows streamers to gain exposure to each other’s audiences and subsequently expand their reach and grow their viewerships.

A popular collaboration tool on many Chinese apps is called PK (on Western apps such as MeetMe referred to as Battles). Jeremy Zorn, SVP of Product at The Meet Group explained in an interview, “PK or Battles are essentially real-time competitions between streamers, where the winner is decided by the viewers: whichever streamer earns more virtual currency from the audience during the battle is declared the winner. During the battle, streams are combined such that both audiences can see both streamers at the same time. Neither one is the “host”, and each one brings their own audience.”

The Battles feature on MeetMe

Similar to this is Twitch’s Squad Streaming, which is still in beta testing. This feature allows four streamers to combine their streams including their audiences just like in Battles, however it doesn’t have a competition element the way Battles does. Since Twitch is primarily a video game streaming platform, this will allow streamers to play games with each other and viewers can watch all the players at once.

Squad Streaming places four streamer perspectives on a single screen. Credit: Twitch

Raids are another Twitch tool that allow a streamer to send their audience to another broadcaster’s stream. Raids usually occur when a streamer is wrapping up their stream; they will start a raid, sending their audience over to someone else stream. It can be a great way for streamers to share audiences and help boost each other’s streams.

Relationship with the audience:

Without a dedicated fan base, there’s no way to become a top streamer. It is important for streamers to find ways to interact with and recognize loyal and generous audience members.

One thing they can do is to appoint what platforms typically refer to as bouncers or administrators. These people are given permissions to regulate the stream’s chat contents and have the ability to silence other users and even kick them out or ban them from the stream. Streamers are typically given a limited number of bouncer designations, so becoming a bouncer is seen as an honor, it shows that the streamer thinks you are reliable and recognizes that you are a loyal viewer they can count on.

Another useful tool is the ability for streamers to send private chats to other users while they are streaming. This would come in handy, for example, if someone send you are large gift. As a streamer, it is very important to recognize fans who have sent large gifts and many streamers take time after each broadcast to thank top gifters. But the problem is that over the course of a several hours stream they may forget who those people are. So, to make it easier, they can send a message to that person right away while they are still streaming. Another tool that is helpful for this situation is a list of top gifters. Depending on the platform, streamer are often able to see who their top gifters are for an individual stream, as well as overall.

Another way to get to know your audience members is with the Guest Box feature. Basically what this means is that a viewer can request to have a video call with the broadcaster while the broadcaster is live. If the broadcaster accepts the request, the viewer’s video will appear within a smaller frame inside the main video — similar to FaceTiming with someone. The viewer in the guests box will obviously get to have more one on one interaction with the streamer so the Guest Box can be used as a reward for loyal fans.

A MeetMe streamer using the guest box feature to chat with a viewer

These are just some of the top tools that streamers use on a regular basis to accelerate their streaming careers. Although they are somewhat behind the scenes, streamer tools are an important element of a live streaming platform and product developers around the world are constantly developing new tools that suit the needs of their specific platform’s streamers and viewers.