The Twitch community is represented by two types of people: the streamers who make content and the viewers who watch their content. Going deeper than that, there are many different types of viewers. Some viewers are super active. They sub, donate and type in chat. And then there are viewers who prefer to be less active — sometimes not interacting at all. The viewers that simply watch and don’t interact with the streamer or chat are known as lurkers in the Twitch community. In this article, we will discuss what lurking is and why it’s important for Twitch streamers to let viewers lurk if they want to.
What is a lurker?
A lurker is a viewer who pulls up a livestream and just watches. These viewers don’t interact with anyone and don’t sub or donate. Essentially, they are in the background of the stream, lurking, while other chatters interact with each other and the streamer.
The act of lurking is quite common on Twitch. In fact, most viewers on Twitch are lurkers. Twitch even has its own definition of what a lurker is. Twitch tweeted back in 2019 that lurkers are “viewers who are watching, but may not be chatting, have the stream or browser tab muted, or may be watching a handful of streams at one time.”
Examples of lurking
To be clear, there are numerous levels of lurking one can partake in. You can be a full-time lurker, meaning no matter what stream you go to, you don’t interact whatsoever. You can be a lurker in certain streams but be an active chatter in other streamers’ streams. And, you can be an on/off lurker. You could be super chatty at the beginning of a stream, but later in the stream, you may start lurking when you want to have a bit to eat and just watch the stream.
Is lurking bad?
Despite the words “lurking” and “lurker” carrying negative connotations, there’s nothing wrong with lurking on Twitch. Actually, lurkers can be quite helpful to streamers and their success. Sure, streamers want to have active chat, but it’s unrealistic to expect everyone who watches you to interact. Everyone is different, and it’s important to be inclusive to all your viewers. This will help build your viewership. Creating a place where people feel comfortable and don’t feel forced to interact is a must.
No matter if a viewer is chatting or lurking, they all contribute to your stream’s view count (the number of viewers watching your livestream). To become a Twitch Affiliate and Partner, you need to hit specific viewership milestones. The only way you’re going to hit those is to make sure everyone has a good time, including lurkers.
How to make your stream inclusive to lurkers
The unfortunate fact for many smaller Twitch streamers is that lurkers often feel uncomfortable hoping in a small viewer count stream, namely because their presence is more noticeable in a stream with five live viewers than one with 10K.
If you’re a small streamer, there’s not much you can do about that. Small Twitch streams can be awkward at times for lurking viewers. However, there are a few practices you can implement to make lurkers feel a bit more comfortable.
Never call lurkers out
We know it’s exciting to see your first organic viewer stroll in. However, don’t call them out directly if they don’t want to chat. Depending on who the viewer is, they might feel uncomfortable if a stranger is asking them direct questions and tune out. The better approach would be to talk to your chat as if there are tons of people in there, even if there aren’t. Talk about your opinions on the game you’re playing or ask chat a general question. Remember, addressing chat and addressing someone individually are very different. Addressing chat as a whole makes people feel less called out.
If they like what you have to say, they will stay. Some may start chatting, and some will stay lurking. However, the important part is that they will stay viewers.
Accept that some people just want to watch
Some people just want to chill and watch your stream. There is nothing wrong with that. If they don’t want to engage, don’t make them feel like they have to. In the long run, viewers stick around because they enjoy how watching your stream makes them feel. Some love to talk, and some love to listen. Let lurkers lurk, and they will reward you for being such a chill streamer. After all, no one likes to hang around a pushy friend who always wants you to do things for them. Now imagine that coming from a complete stranger.
Lurkers will lurk
The majority of viewers on Twitch engage in lurking. It isn’t a bad thing to welcome lurkers into your Twitch community. In fact, it’s imperative to your success. Not only do they boost your viewership, but they also put you in a good position to become a Twitch Affiliate or Partner. So, if you have lurkers watching your stream, just let them do their thing.