What was the last title you used for your stream? I’ll hazard a guess that it was something along the lines of the following:
“Just playing some chill Apex games. Come hang out!”
“Trying out Dark Souls for the first time.”
“Finishing up my Ghost of Tsushima run.”
At first glance, there’s nothing wrong with these titles. They’re descriptive, they are more than likely saying something true, and most viewers can easily understand them. Unfortunately, they lack something important.
They’re not compelling the viewers to click on your stream and join your chat. Telling your viewers to “come hang out” doesn’t say much because…newsflash! – You’re live.. Unless you’ve turned follower or sub mode on, it’s implied that people can join your chat and interact with you. What you need is a title that gives your viewers a reason to join your stream in a sea of channels that are offering, more or less, the same thing you are.
So, how does one write a compelling stream title? In this article, I break down all the details on the craft of titling your stream, but let me start you off with some basics first.
Why Are Stream Titles Important?
The title of your stream is your first opportunity to communicate with your prospective viewers. In other words, it’s the first impression they get from you. I’m sure you know by now that first impressions matter. They are what makes or breaks the beginnings of every known human relationship, from friendships to business partnerships.
It’s precisely the same with streaming and content creation. You’re expecting your audience to spend their valuable time on you and your creativity. But so is everyone else around you, which is why you need to put some extra effort into the things that most content creators tend to overlook, such as stream graphics and stream titles.
It all starts with the value you’re providing.
Provide a Unique Value Proposition
A unique value proposition or UVP is essentially the answer to the question every viewer is asking at the back of their skulls:
“What am I getting out of this?”
You may be thinking that you’re providing free entertainment, but money isn’t the only form of currency Twitch users have. Time is far more essential, and you have to both respect it and give something in return for it.
Determining the UVP of your stream is wildly going to depend on what you’re planning to do to entertain your viewers. This has to be beyond the obvious gameplay they’re going to be watching. Personality streamers have gags, jokes, stories, and silly challenges they’re doing. Educators are teaching or otherwise providing information that helps their viewers improve. Pro players are pushing themselves in terms of performance. Whatever your UVP is, it’s got to be front-and-center in your title. Beyond that, it’s got to be framed and written in a compelling way.
In other words, your titles have to be clickable.
Here are some examples:
“1st Borderlands Playthrough – Can A Casual Survive?”
“Drawing Custom Twitch Emotes – Secret Design Tips & Tricks!”
Clickable vs. Clickbait
I find very often that content creators confuse clickable for clickbait. The difference between the two isn’t immediately apparent. Both imply that a piece of content is compelling to click on. However, the proof is in the pudding. Clickbait titles often end up taking you to content that either entirely or partially mislead you. Clickable titles, on the other hand, should always meet the expectation set by the title.
Let’s say you’re doing a Dark Souls challenge run, and you’re planning on one-shotting every boss in the game. You title your stream accordingly to set the expectation you’re going to do something challenging so viewers will join in:
“Proof I’m a Dark Souls God – One-Shotting Every Boss in The Game”
However, instead of doing the challenge properly, you install a cheat that gives you infinite power that allows you to one-shot bosses. This is the worst form of clickbait, and it’s something that gets you viewers but maybe not the kind you want. There are situations in which clickbait is okay, but it has to be a part of your content.
Now that we have the foundations out of the way let’s move onto the five elements we can leverage to make a clickable stream title.
What Elements Make a Compelling Stream Title?
Every person on the planet loves numbers. I’m not talking about financial ledgers and spreadsheets. I’m talking about the actual numbers from 1 to 10. Content and marketing agencies have been using numbers for decades to get people to buy products and services.
Having a number in your title can easily set your stream apart from someone doing the same content as you.
Here are some examples:
“Rank 2 Widowmaker Player Making Big Plays”
“Taking Down 3 of The Toughest Bosses Blindfolded”
“0 Hits Taken Run”
Imagine these titles without their numbers and ask yourself which one looks more compelling.
People love free stuff, and the same goes for stream viewers. The prospect of something free so compels human beings, they’ll gladly take useless trinkets and booklets from anyone handing them out. Just ask the swag hunters at gaming conventions.
You’re likely already familiar with the giveaway strategy, but you can’t always shell out money for prizes. You can give your viewers other free things as rewards for contests and other events, though. Some fun ideas include playing with viewers, being a moderator for a day or even gifting some emotes, art or merch. Let’s see how one of the above titles shapes out:
“Rank 2 Widowmaker Playing with Subs All Stream”
Now, you’ve got two value propositions for your viewers.
If there’s one thing you, me, and the rest of humanity crave besides free stuff, it’s novelty. We’re always looking for something new to experience and consume. This is why there are so many ups and downs in the content creation game.
Of course, novelty doesn’t mean the next big new idea or concept. It simply has to be either different from other channels in your space, or it could be the tension borne from the unknown. So let’s look at our evolving title in two different ways:
“Rank 2 Widowmaker on a Guitar Hero Controller Playing w/ Subs”
“Rank 2 Widowmaker Playing w/ Subs Doing 50 Squats for Every Loss”
The first is a crazy prospect that likely no other pro player in the same space is doing. The second title has tension because your viewers don’t know how many times you’re going to lose – if at all!
I don’t need to tell you that we’re emotional creatures, us human folk. I’m not necessarily talking about whether the death of 5 puppies in a basket brings tears to our eyes (and if it doesn’t, you’re a monster!). I’m mainly referring to how compelled we are by other people being emotional.
By adding words that convey emotion to your title, you provide people with a story prospect. Our feelings come from the journeys we go through, whether in IRL or in a video game. These journeys can lead to compelling narrative elements such as drama and hilarity. So let’s upgrade our example title further:
“Angry Rank 2 Widowmaker Doing 50 Salty Squats for Every Loss”
There’s so much to unpack from this title, and your viewers will click to find out why you’re always so angry and torturing yourself.
This one is not a personal favorite of mine, but it does work. Especially if you’re abreast with the latest memes and pop culture, adding references to them can be a powerful tool in your title-making arsenal. In a nutshell, this makes you relatable to the majority of people who hang out on Twitch.
I’m going to do my best with this one as I’m not that great with memes but, hopefully, you’ll get the idea:
“Pikachu Face! Rank 2 Widowmaker Playing w/ Guitar Hero Controller!”
My feeble attempt at using a meme aside, using these 5 elements will help you craft compelling titles that viewers will find intriguing enough to check out. Remember to keep things ethical and avoid clickbait.