The increasing interest in eSports has compelled many brands to start targeting the eSports audience in their marketing campaigns. Among the many eSports marketing tactics they have been implementing, partnering with influencers in the industry is a fairly new concept. In spite of its newness, eSports influencer marketing offers brands immense value.
Due to their reach and engagement, influencers in the gaming and eSports landscapes can significantly amplify your marketing efforts. Their reach isn’t just confined to the gaming and tech industries either. In this post, you will learn about the true value of influencers in eSports marketing and how they can benefit your campaigns.
The True Value of Influencers in eSports Marketing:
eSports is Mainstream
These days, when something “hits the mainstream” that means people have figured out how to make money off that thing. eSports isn’t exactly new, but its ability to generate buckets of revenue is. In 2021, the industry achieved global revenue in the amount of $1.1 billion—and that number is expected to be just shy of 1.7 billion by 2024. . There are, at present, over 50 leagues hosting tournaments for dozens of games. The International 2019 tournament, which happened this past August, boasted a prize pool of over $34 million for the players involved.
Statistics like these are why a lot of marketing-type people are angling for a way into a piece of that sweet, cash-flowing pie. And it makes total sense. Consider that the Super Bowl—U.S. Football’s annual championship game—had a viewership of 103 million people in 2018. It’s that kind of reach that made the Super Bowl the most lucrative advertising day of the year. Brands were willing to shell out an average of over $5 million for a 30 second spot during the Super Bowl’s televised broadcast. As the League of Legends tournament showed, the Super Bowl is no longer the only big game in town—and it’s poised to become the biggest. The audience for eSports is still growing; the number of viewers for the Super Bowl is on the decline.
Have You Heard the Good News About Influencer Marketing?
This being Influencer Marketing Hub, you probably knew we were going to go there. But that’s not a case of us pushing our own agenda. That’s because, for as many similarities as there are between eSports and traditional ones, there’s a major difference in the role of the audience. They are more than spectators, they’re participants. As Forbes magazine pointed out, “eSports, and live streaming in general, are co-creation experiences.” What this mostly refers to is the chat feature on Twitch, which enables spectators to join in the fun.
The article points out that apart from being able to interact with other fans, the chat enables users to learn from the people they’re watching, as well as to pitch on strategy and perhaps even contribute in some way. When I think about how many traditional sports fans yell at their TVs with coaching instructions for the players, being a fan of eSports starts to seem much less silly. Beyond the participatory nature of the games themselves, there’s also the incredible relatability of the players. When people watch the World Cup, or the Super Bowl, most will not look at what the athletes are doing and thinking, “Yeah, I can do that.” With eSports, anyone with basic eye/hand coordination can become great at a game—if they play it long enough. The hype around the major tournaments stems as much from the fact that anyone in the audience can become the next big star.
This combination of community and co-creation—along with the sense of accessibility to a star—is the kind of space that influencer marketing was made for. For brands that want to get in on the action, especially ones that don’t directly relate to eSports, the first step toward acceptance by the fans is going to be some good old organic and authentic content. Twitch is a great place to start, of course, and the platform has its share of influencers. Reddit, with its many communities of devoted gamers, is another platform that should see its value rise for marketers. Non-endemic brands will have their work cut out for them, but they also have the chance to get in before things really take off.
eSports Influencers Have Massive Reach Across Platforms
The influence of eSports influencers isn’t just confined to eSports events and tournaments. Their reach extends much farther than that and could even impact audiences outside of the gaming niche. While they’re mostly on Twitch, they also have massive reach across other social media platforms. This is one of the reasons why eSports influencers are so valuable for brands, even if they’re not relevant to gaming.
To better understand how much reach eSports influencers have, let’s take a closer look at some of the top gaming and eSports influencers in 2021.
Ninja is one of the top Twitch streamers and is part of Luminosity gaming. As of August 2021 he currently boasts of more than 16 million followers, and his Twitch videos get tens of thousands of views.
He commands the same reach on Instagram, where he has around 13.8 million followers. Although his Twitter following is much lower than on other platforms at 6.7 million, that’s still a lot bigger than many other influencers. Ninja’s influence is the highest on YouTube, where he has 24 million subscribers.
On YouTube, he has even created sponsored content to promote brands like Samsung. He has also been known to create sponsored content for non-gaming brands like Red Bull on Twitch.
Shroud is another top influencer on Twitch who once led the Cloud 9 team. Although he left professional eSports in 2018, his influence in the industry has not waned. On Twitter, he has close to 1.8 million followers, and his influence isn’t just limited to one platform either.
While he mostly uses Twitch to broadcast live gaming sessions, he also uses YouTube to create other gaming-related content. He has 6.8 million subscribers on the platform, and his videos get millions of views.
Shroud also commands a massive following on other social media channels like Twitter and Instagram. He has about a million followers on each platform, which is a much bigger follower count than the average mid-tier influencer. Mid-tier influencers typically have an audience size of around 50,000 to 500,000.
Another popular eSports influencer is DrLupo, the captain of Team Rogue. He commands a following of over 4.5 million on Twitch and his influence seems to be consistent throughout other platforms. On Twitter and YouTube, he has an audience size of almost 2 million each, which is smaller but still extremely significant.
On Instagram, however, he commands an even bigger audience than on Twitch. He currently has about 4.1 million followers on the platform.
So it’s clear to see that the biggest eSports influencers command a huge following on gaming-specific platforms like Twitch. However, their influence isn’t just limited to this one platform either. They still have massive reach across other social media platforms that other consumers use. This means that they also have the potential to reach the average consumer even if they promote brands unrelated to gaming and eSports.
Influencers Drive Authentic Conversations and Engagement
Based on the previous point, you can understand that eSports influencers offer tons of value in terms of reach. But if you’re familiar with influencer marketing, you already know that following size alone isn’t enough to determine how much influence someone has. Even then, you’ll be happy to learn that eSports influencers are known to drive tons of engagement for their content.
They keep their audiences engaged with fun commentary and start authentic conversations around various topics. So even on social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter, they tend to drive a lot of engagement for their content.
Let’s take a look at the engagement rates of the top eSports influencers that we previously mentioned to better understand this.
According to the Instagram Money Calculator, DrLupo has an average engagement rate of 2.83%. To put this into context, the average engagement rate on Instagram is between 1% and 3.5%. So his engagement rate is towards the higher side.
Ninja has an even better engagement rate of 4.21%. This far exceeds the average engagement rate of most influencers and users on the platform. The number clearly shows that this influencer doesn’t have just a high follower count but also manages to keep a decent amount of those followers engaged with his content.
What’s even more impressive is that Shroud manages to drive an engagement rate of 10.99%. This shockingly high engagement rate suggests that his content on Instagram is interesting and highly engaging for his fans.
If you go through his Instagram profile, you will see that most of his videos have garnered more than 500,000 views each. That’s twice the number of followers he has on the platform. Some videos have even managed to get views far exceeding the number of followers he has.
These numbers are clear proof that influencers in the eSports industry are much better than influencers in other niches at driving engagement. It also suggests that the eSports audience is much more engaged than the average consumer – all the more reason for brands to get involved in eSports marketing.
If you go through the content posted by these influencers, you’ll find that it’s usually a mix of gaming-related content and photos showcasing their personal lives. They present themselves in a down-to-earth and relatable manner, which is essential for developing authentic connections with their fan base.
So it’s only natural that their fans will feel a deeper connection with them and will find them relatable. Combined with the fact that they produce content relevant to their fans’ interests, it’s only natural that they would drive such high levels of engagement across social media.
What this means for brands is that these influencers will be able to drive authentic conversations around your product. They’ll know exactly how to present your brand and product in a way that will make their fans listen. This is crucial if you want your sponsored content and influencer marketing campaigns to have an actual impact.
eSports Influencers Help Raise Brand Awareness
Based on these numbers, it’s clear for anyone to see that influencers in eSports marketing can effectively raise brand awareness. Since they have massive reach across various platforms and have highly engaged audiences, you’re bound to see a significant impact. So you will find both gaming and non-gaming brands partnering with them for their marketing campaigns.
Hershey’s, for instance, decided to partner with DrLupo and Ninja to promote their new Reese’s Pieces chocolate bar. While the company has previously worked with influencers in the past, they mostly used traditional platforms like Facebook and Twitter. For this campaign, their primary channel was Twitch with YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram serving as secondary platforms.
The duo promoted the product through a collaborative livestream, which is very natural because they have been playing together since 2017. They managed to engage an average of almost 70,000 concurrent viewers throughout this sponsored session. This clearly shows just how much of an impact eSports influencers can have in raising brand awareness.
eSports Influencers Drive Game Sales
The first two points show how influencers in eSports offer tons of value in terms of reach and engagement. But does that mean they’re driving actual, measurable results for brands? That’s what matters the most for brands that are planning to work with eSports influencers.
Even if the influencer manages to reach millions of people with the brand’s sponsored content, some brands may not be satisfied with this if it doesn’t result in action. You’ll only be getting exposure but no actual sales, which wouldn’t be sustainable for some businesses. However, some brands that are only aiming for brand awareness may have no problem with this.
In the case of eSports influencers, you can witness measurable results in the form of sales. According to Twitch, mid-tier influencers drove 46% of game sales coming from the platform. This is definite proof that eSports influencers also provide value by driving conversions and boosting revenue for brands.
In addition to these points, influencers in the eSports industry may offer a lot more value to brands for their marketing campaigns. These are the main benefits that stand out with provable numbers. As discussed, these influencers have a ton of influence over their fan bases. They have massive reach and drive a lot of engagement, which is crucial if you want people to pay attention to your brand.
They help you raise brand awareness and can even drive actual sales, especially for gaming and tech brands. Make the most of these insights to evaluate the benefits of working with eSports influencers for your brand.