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Illustration featuring purple and blue graphic lines and a TikTok logo Illustration: Ariel Davis for Polygon

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If you want to be a Twitch streamer, you probably need to be a TikToker too

Short-form highlights are drawing new fans to longer broadcasts

Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

You may have felt it: Twitch, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube are all competing for an increasingly overlapping user base as social media platforms all introduce similar features.

But for streamers and influencers, these platforms have symbiotic relationships — one platform can be important for growth in another. Twitch and TikTok may seem antithetical, as one targets long-form, hourslong broadcasts over the other’s bite-sized clips, but Twitch streamers have realized that both platforms can be crucial for audience growth.

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TikTok is an attention behemoth — Twitch’s user-base numbers don’t even come close — that can be essential to broader success on Twitch as a livestreaming platform. Twitch seems to recognize this relationship, having released new tools this year to make it easier to reuse Twitch content on TikTok. Twitch’s Clip Editor is a web-based application that lets streamers edit clips, including the ability to convert them into portrait mode. Twitch also has CapCut, a more in-depth editor, that makes editing more accessible. TikTok recently added a feature that lets users post to TikTok directly from Twitch and CapCut, closing the loop on the ease of creating short-form content. And earlier in October, Twitch itself introduced a new short-form “stories” feature.

Alex Labat, a Twitch streamer and TikTok creator, has seen exponential growth to his Twitch streams after using TikTok to promote “highlights” of his content, like his infamous Twitch Plays streams, where he gets Twitch Chat to use text commands to play games like World of Warcraft.

“Twitch is where you want to be to see those [unscripted] moments happen in real time,” Labat said. “The ‘you had to be there’ moments. TikTok, on the other hand, is where you go to highlight and/or showcase those moments. Being able to curate the highlights from your stream and feeding that into the TikTok algorithm is your chance for an entirely new audience to see you, for them to say, ‘OK. I have to see what this is about.’”

Some of Labat’s most popular TikToks only required editing Twitch clips into short-form videos; the effort, he says, feels low risk with the potential for high reward. TikTok videos can get tons of views on the platform itself, but the other crucial element that Labat says is often ignored is how often TikToks are reused and reposted on other social media platforms. “Instagram Reels, tweets... sometimes when things take off you aren’t even the arbiter of that growth because something you’ve produced has been shared/remixed on a platform you haven’t even touched,” he said.

Short-form content is also more likely to be viewed by other content creators doing reaction videos and the like; Labat credits a massive Twitch traffic spike to popular World of Warcraft streamer Asmongold viewing his Twitch Plays video on stream. “Very rarely will you ever see a streamer watching someone else’s stream while they’re live,” Labat added.

It’s hard to track whether TikTok audiences are sticking around for longer Twitch streams, but Labat said he does see TikTok users getting involved in the community. Some of his TikTok viewers even signed up for Twitch, after which he helped “onboard” new viewers.

“TikTok people will make it known,” Labat said. “‘Hey. I’m here from TikTok, sort of unsure how things work here.’ And I commend my community for this greatly, they welcome them with open arms.”

He said he even gets people regularly coming into his Twitch stream to ask about a shiny Pokémon stream — a conquest that included four Nintendo Switch consoles — that he did on TikTok in 2022.

Bringing another platform into the equation, Labat said Discord is the other crucial part of making all these different content avenues work. It bridges the gap between TikTok and Twitch, ultimately bringing his community together. “Discord provides that space so that people can find me and where I’ll be providing that content, regardless of said platform,” he added.