As livestreaming for video games and other content continues to grow in prominence across platforms such as Twitch, YouTube Live and Facebook Live, more brands are looking to tap into this space. Twitch in particular, with its numerous video game streamers, connects strongly with the hard-to-reach millennial audience. But what should brands keep in mind as they look for the right broadcaster to sponsor? How do they ensure that they find the person that best represents them? [a]listdaily spoke with industry insiders to get their advice for getting onboard the livestreaming trend.

Twitch offers to do all the work when it comes to creating custom campaigns and community-facing sponsorships. However, John Newlin, custom solutions director at Twitch, offers advice for those looking to foster a relationship from the ground up. His three tips are:

  1. Don’t focus on reach alone. Just because a broadcaster has a large viewership, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are right for the brand. It comes down to community. Streamers who foster a sense of community on their streams and engage with their viewers will be able to help brands better connect with their audience. Also, look for Influencers who genuinely like and use the product or service. If selling more hamburgers is a brand’s goal, don’t go with the vegetarian streamer regardless of how popular they might be.
  2. Read the rules. Since most broadcasters list guidelines for their chat on their channel pages, look for those that promote their channels as being a hub for positive community interaction and convey a family-friendly vibe.
  3. Do your research. The types of games being streamed can help weed out channels that might be less brand-friendly, such as streamers who have a penchant for gratuitously violent and profanity-heavy games. Check out their archived videos to get a sense of which games they stream the most. Regardless of the games they play, it’s also important to learn about the type of community a streamer is cultivating and how much moderation they employ. Checking out their chat replay is a good place to start.

Roker Media co-founder and managing partner, Ronald Pruett, states that brands should start by considering the platform before connecting with a broadcaster. He also recommends devising a livestreaming plan, which would differ greatly from a traditional video series.

“Unlike a lot of platforms with influencers, livestreams are unique. I would say that different platforms go after different audiences. In other words, you may find an influencer or star on a platform [like YouTube], but their audience will be younger. Whereas someone on Facebook might target an older audience. So, platform selection is critical.

“More importantly, the whole concept of influencers and brands finding them is just starting to develop on livestreams for this reason: there are not a lot of folks out there who are great live. The output on platforms like YouTube are heavily edited. If I were a brand, I’d be extremely careful about confirming that the person I was working with has done a lot of livestreaming, and can manage the representation of the brand live.”

Chris Carley, TriplePoint PR’s influencer relations specialist, said that if there are already streamers who use and evangelize a sponsor’s product, they should be considered first for possible sponsorship. Although they may not be the largest influencers, they’ve proven to have a relevant audience, so a positive working relationship could have significant value. But the biggest advice he has for starting out is simple: Know who you are working with.

“First off, understand that content creators are not journalists, nor are they video producers with a full production team behind them. These are gamers and entertainers working to make a living off video content they produce themselves. The vast majority of content creators did not go to journalism or business school. Things like press embargoes, contracts and payment systems may be new to them. The more a sponsor understands this and can be patient with the content creator, the smoother the process will be.

“Second, similar to properly targeting your story pitches to the right journalists, sponsors should always take the time to watch as much of the potential streamer’s content as possible. Is the creator a variety streamer or focused on a specific genre of games, and would the sponsor’s game fit the audience? Do they use inappropriate language, do they rage at online opponents, or do they display any kind of behavior that the sponsor might deem inappropriate and not want to associate with? Sponsors should do the due diligence required to verify that they are ok with the maturity level of their content, and that they display and address games they play in a way that the sponsor is comfortable with.”

Additionally, Carley said that sponsors need to get comfortable with “relinquishing creative freedom to reach the desired outcome,” and that they shouldn’t try to control the messaging or insist that a streamer do something that goes against the character of the show. “This leads to a no-win situation,” he said. “The sponsor won’t get a good return on their investment, while the damage to community trust will hurt the streamer and their show. Sponsors should look for the right fit, not monetary-driven control of the talent. This isn’t a celebrity tweet nor a traditional ad spot.”

ION’s group talent director, Steven Lai, had this to say:

“As brands, it’s important to treat the broadcasters they choose to work with as a true partnership. And like any great partnership, it’s key to evaluate fit not just from a numbers perspective (viewership, audience size, engagement) but more importantly, a personality standpoint. Does the broadcaster share your brand’s values, ideals, and viewpoints? Identifying the personalities that match on all levels provides further credibility to the partnership leading to a much more meaningful, impactful, and long-term relationship.”

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