The internet allows people to find communities they resonate most with; whether it’s an aspiring musician looking for advice, or someone discussing fitness routines. The rise in social media has grown in parallel with millions of aspiring influencers in every corner of the internet, from health and fitness to pets and family.
The gaming community has boomed over the past decade, and with this, as has people striving to replicate the largest faces in the community – online streamers. It’s no surprise that there are over eight million active live streamers on Twitch, with over 93% having less than five average viewers.
Among the few that have a successful career in live streaming, are many that joined after spending years building a loyal following on a different platform, and are taking a step to grow their audience further. With millions wanting to make a name for themselves, the seemingly ‘old guard’ of online influencers need to reinvent their content so they can stay relevant.
This has led to some extreme reinvention; whether it’s encouraging donations in return for drinking alcohol or doing morally unethical shock-value entertainment.
One streamer, OnlyUseMeBlade, saw rapid growth during the early 2010s with a relatively controversy-free persona, having an audience of more than 500,000 subscribers.
As with many online influencers, his audience aged with him. During the peak of his career, the majority were in their teens, with many growing out of the content as they got older and started their careers.
In 2015, he pivoted to Twitch live streaming attempting to keep his online career alive. This soon became his rapid downfall; with dwindling viewership and a love for alcohol, he would soon start taking a shot of Jägermeister in return for donations. Spiralling out of control, his channel became an epicentre for on-screen controversy from animal abuse to allegations of sexual assault, along with an infected leg as a direct result of alcoholism. In 2020, his account was terminated after violating several Twitch community guidelines.
These controversies were often shared on forums, with former fans rediscovering a man they once respected – one Reddit user commented that they “Grew up watching his MW2 videos as a kid and have seen him become such a waste of life overtime.”
There are many lessons to be learned from this; an influencer that once had an active audience and an online awareness spanning 1000-times that, now faced a fate of disgust and pity instead of being a light of nostalgic reminiscence from his fanbase.
Hate that never goes away
Another streamer, WingsOfRedemption, had a similar birth into online entertainment, amassing an audience of 400,000+ subscribers during the early 2010s. Unlike before however, controversy, albeit less extreme, followed him wherever he went. Whether it was unwarranted blocking of dedicated fans, aggressively raging at video games or a long list of controversial off-hand comments.
This attracted and motivated a very specific audience – one that would find themselves in online communities dedicated to ruining someone’s life as entertainment. This included sending unpaid services to his home address, sending his picture to journalists with false information or capturing his mental breakdowns for everyone to see.
No matter the content that was produced, the idea that just one viewer was waiting for him to slip up and share with thousands weighed on him heavily; in turn, creating a disassociating and paranoid barrier between him and the audience.
How a toxic fan base will impact your mental health
In one way or another, both of these streamers transformed their audience from loyal and rooting for them to toxic and rooting against them. A toxic fan base is a slippery slope that starts with short-term success but ends in long-term suffering, whether physical or mental.
Having your own toxic fan base can have serious implications on your mental health; from developing serious addictions to growing anxiety from simple interactions with your fans, thinking they are only there to mock you.
Tips to create a positive audience
A career online is now one of the most sought-after jobs amongst adolescents, with 17% of UK teens aspiring to be influencers and 14% aspiring to be YouTubers. Along with the added impressionability of mimicking what others do, here are some ways to create and maintain a positive audience:
- Disengage with haters – It may sound simple, but haters are just like any other bully; refuse to give a reaction and they will leave and look for someone else to troll.
- Keep the conversation going – Your viewers most likely want to watch you play the game, rather than the game itself. Keeping an engaging conversation going will help keep the audience on your side – topics that require audience participation are a great way to achieve this.
- Engage with your viewers – Your viewers are there for a reason, and when they leave a comment, they do so hoping it will add something to the conversation. Acknowledging and engaging with each comment you see will keep them active and let them know that you care about what they have to say.
- Be open with your audience – Viewers love authenticity, so be honest with them and you’ll create a mutual level of trust and respect. Even if you’re having an off-night, let them know and they’ll likely send the love your way.
- Get the right equipment – To avoid embarrassing and stressful moments, invest in a gaming PC that meets the requirements of the game you are playing. You don’t need the best-on-the-market pc, but you do need one that shows the game the way it was meant to be played, free from video and audio lag.
Author Bio: This article was written by Rob Winter, spokesman for online custom gaming PC seller Titan Ice.