Staying true to his word, streaming superstar Ninja tweeted his phone number to his 4.7 million followers — well, sort of.
Perhaps it would have been more accurate for Ninja, whose real name is Tyler Blevins, to instead insist he would be sharing a phone number that would give fans an opportunity to subscribe to a mobile messaging service. It appears many fan believed it would be a personal line directly to him. And, while he claims he's making an attempt to respond to and engage with the influx of messages, it's not exactly the same as someone having a one-on-one convo with their hero.
In the video message accompanying the release of his phone number, Ninja explained how it works.
"Send me a text message right now. There's gonna be a link that's gonna follow. Fill it out so I have your information and I'm gonna be able to contact you guys, text you guys personally, send you guys awesome videos, messages, behind the scenes of whatever event my beautiful wife Jess and I are at, or even freaking cute, adorable pictures of our little puppies who are just laying on the couch right now."
312-584-4684 yes this is my number. Yes I will receive each and every text. I'll try to reply to as many as possible. This is gunna be fun... longterm!! pic.twitter.com/iHBpupMTe5
— Ninja (@Ninja) August 11, 2019
Upon sending the text, a message from the number invites people to submit their information to him via a form upon which they receive a confirmation and a contact download for Ninja.
However, it appears some fans felt duped out of the chance to communicate directly with their hero, sharing their disappointment with the marketing ploy on Twitter.
OMG NINJA ANSWERED ME!!!! pic.twitter.com/yhxlHot5sy
— JhbTeam 🗣️💯 (@JhbTeam) August 11, 2019
all of this just to be a #ad 😔 I just wanted to talk to Ninja gg
— Evade Orange (@orangie) August 11, 2019
More likeNinja: text me so you can agree to be directly sent promotional links
— Justin Mattioli (@HookedOnMontana) August 11, 2019
However, in spite of some fans' feelings about the authenticity of the effort, it seems to be working. In a follow-up video posted moments shortly after the first video, the streamer claimed to have already gotten tens of thousands of text messages and that he's making an effort to reply to as many as he can.
"I'm getting one of two things," he said in the second face cam video. "I'm either getting 'Hi Ninja, hi Ninja, hi Ninja, hi Ninja, hi Ninja, hi Ninja, hi Ninja, play with me,' or incredibly kind, heartfelt messages about loads of things, especially my switch to Mixer."
Quick update on my phone number...appreciate all the freaking love. pic.twitter.com/45GEmTTlW6
— Ninja (@Ninja) August 11, 2019
He also shares that he plans to reach out to some fans and invite them to play Fortnite with him.
Ultimately, it's not much different than signing up for something like an email list. In fact, 94 percent of people will read a text message as long as it's from someone they know, according to a survey from Esendex. Contrast that with promotional email open rates, which have an open rate of 32 percent on average, according to marketing technology company HubSpot.
That, paired with the relative anonymity that allows viewers to act toxic on streaming platforms or social media, provide insight into some reasons Ninja is choosing to engage his fans in such a manner. And, with the potential for a response from the man himself, there's no reason that super fans wouldn't want to sign up for exclusive content and first looks at new merchandise.
The move comes just days after his sudden departure from his longtime digital home on Twitch to emerging streaming platform Mixer — and also, on the same day he learned Twitch was promoting other videos, including one featuring adult content, on his still-active profile.
As streaming becomes more and more popular, professional streamers must find creative ways to continue to cultivate two-way connections with fans. Ninja, who has worked incredibly hard for his success, is also a master of personal branding. So, it's no wonder recent marketing efforts range from a Red Bull can to Ninja headbands, and now this.
Data shows that Ninja's channel is performing extremely well on Mixer. But, it's possible it's only a matter of time until the novelty wears off, at which point Fortnite's poster child will again have to compete for attention from other rising stars.
Ninja is smart to ride the popularity wave while it's high, as he understands more than most that attention is a fickle thing. It certainly doesn't hurt to offer fans a one-to-one connection, even if it is an illusion. However, smart marketing tricks can rapidly devolve into pure deception, so it's important for Ninja to continue to make sure not to Boogie Bomb his chances for success at such a transitional point in his career.