Let's see if we can pull this off two weeks in a row. Last week, we published a post about Rush Limbaugh and his philosophy on radio. It wasn't political in the least, nor was it meant to be. And the vast, vast majority of you who commented to me here, on social media, and in person took it in the way in which it was intended.
Now, let's see if we can do the same with Donald Trump. The reason I'm blogging about him today – and it's not the least bit disconnected from the Limbaugh post – is that he made a major decision last week that may have been obscured by other news: the second whistle-blower, new testimony from fired State Department officials, the Syrian troop pull-out, those two Ukrainian “business men” arrested after lunching with Rudy Giuliani at the Trump Hotel in D.C., and the initial steps in a trade deal with China. I'm sure I missed other important news stories involving the President, but the fire hose of “breaking news” always makes its challenging to keep up, much less make sense of it all.
So, when the story broke that Donald Trump now has a Twitch account, it may have flown below the radar. As we know all too well, the President is a prolific tweeter. Twitter has long been his social platform of choice, and depending on who you talk to, he either abuses it profusely or uses it to perfection. But now, he's extending his brand to a channel known for attracting young gamers – by the millions.
We've blogged about Twitch a number of times in the past couple years. Radio hosts and shows have started their own Twitch channels in an effort to reach new fans, please existing ones, and try their hand at a new way of “broadcasting” with the potential to produce revenue.
The latest available data shows Twitch to be one of the most trafficked sites on the Internet, claiming 15 million daily active users and 2.2 million “broadcasters” monthly (yes, that's what Twitch calls them).
For the White House, the President's Twitch channel will join more than 27,000 others competing for the time, brain space, and bandwidth of all those young users.
For most of us, that's a daunting obstacle. For President Trump, it may be an opportunity to grow his base, and bring its average age way down. (Notably, the oldest candidate in the race has a Twitch channel, too – Bernie Sanders.) Not surprisingly, some criticized this social brand extension effort by the President, while others wondered about the strategy behind jumping on a channel primarily made up of teen boys.
As of the writing of this post, Trump was nearing 70,000 followers – not bad in less than a week. And assuming he live streams some of those rallies or takes viewers behind the scene in the Oval Office or at the pardoning of the Thanksgiving turkey ceremony next month, it won't be long before his legions on Twitch expand to seven figures.
And that takes us back to last week's Limbaugh's post. Granted, Rush isn't running for office, but his stated reticence to expand his brand on channels beyond terrestrial radio is in total contrast to this latest effort by the White House to reach potential new voters and supporters on an outlet where most of his Democratic rivals don't even know exists.
It wasn't that many years ago when brands were limited in their ability to reach out to new audiences. Alternative channels either didn't exist or there was a high price to market or advertise on them. Today, setting up a Twitch account takes five minutes. It's no guarantee of success, and brands – stations and/or talent – need to post visually interesting, compelling content in order to make any impact – or money.
Bubba the Love Sponge was the first well-known radio personality I'm aware of who's taken a run on Twitch, and now several others have followed suit. Former radio programmer, Don Kollins, is now working with radio hosts, celebrities, and brands, helping them make the transition to Twitch.
Don told me this could very likely be a win for the White House, as well as Twitch. The Trump campaign now has a platform in which to reach this young, (heavily) male audience on a platform they love. He pointed out Trump's content will run without cynical pundits, annoying ads, or other interruptions:
“I look at it as an opportunity to reach that audience PLUS not be interrupted. With Twitch, the entire, unedited pitch can be broadcast on his channel without anyone jumping in with commentary or commercials.”
In other words, no “fake news” or those “enemies of the people” – the media – obscuring his messaging.
For Twitch, of course, Don notes they're now “being introduced to millions more today because Trump has a channel. I think that is a good thing.”
And that's a spot-on observation. Most people I speak with over 40 have no idea what Twitch is, especially in a world full of Tik Tok, Pinterest, and Snapchat. The White House test-driving Twitch can only aid its top-of-mind awareness.
Of course, with any story about the President, there's a punchline. And in this case, it's a good one.
Twitch is owned by one of Trump's least favorite companies – Amazon – headed up by a tech guy who he loves to attack – Jeff Bezos. That's right, also the owner of the Washington Post.
Whether his closest advisers informed him of that little detail is anybody's guess. But given Trump's penchant for using the tools in front of him, he may not care.
It's about brand-building, driving loyalty, and expanding the audience.
Just like it is in radio.
How will President Twitch handle this new marketing challenge. We'll just have to see.
Thanks to Lori Lewis and Reid Jacobs.
And if you'd like to chat with Don Kollins about Twitch, you can reach him here.