Over the last several months, you may have heard of a company called Artesian Builds. Artesian Builds was a custom computer company, building various rigs aimed primarily at content creators and gamers. Like most companies within the world of gaming technology and custom builds, there was an effort to build a line of content creators that would partner as ‘Affiliates’. These affiliate content creators would be able to earn a cut of the profits from sales made through their affiliate link, all the while promoting the builds by Artesian within their respective communities.
A major factor in the success of Artesian Builds, was the fact that they live-streamed some of the builds for customers and creators. The company went as far as incorporating their own community and chat in the build experience by allowing people who donated, subscribed, or otherwise supported the stream, to possibly upgrade the customer’s product during the build.
Think about it – you could watch your computer being built in real time, and if people subscribed enough, your PC could go from having a 2060 graphics card all the way to a 3080. This could be fairly exciting to watch live for those who ordered a build.
What Happened to Artesian Builds?
On February 28th, Artesian Builds hosted their fourth monthly computer giveaway sponsored by Intel. Noah Katz, the CEO of Artesian Builds, joined the live streaming action for this giveaway. During the random selection to see who would win the PC, an Artesian Builds affiliate creator named Kia, or kiapiaa_ on Twitch, was chosen as the winner.
Katz spent the next several minutes after choosing the winner, browsing Kia’s channel and making condescending and insulting comments about her analytics. He ripped into her content with statements like, “You only have (under 100) viewers,” and “No one’s ever even clicked your affiliate link!”
There were previously no requirements to be a part of the affiliate program, aside from putting your affiliate link on your Twitch page in the About panels. There wasn’t supposed to be a threshold of analytics needed to participate in the affiliate program or giveaway.
At this moment of their live stream, Katz started making up conditions that were previously entirely unmentioned and not listed anywhere in the giveaway details. He then tried to verbally attach the newly created conditions or requirements, to whether or not someone wins the custom computer build.
Kia posted a series of tweets highlighting her experience of being humiliated during the company’s live stream and being denied the PC due to the spontaneously made-up rules. Kia felt like Katz was shaming her smaller stream and community.
You hear this mans voice? He’s belittling me. It’s slander and defamation of my stream and me as a person. I won that PC fair and square. The rules say that you need the Artesian panel in your twitch About, and I do have it. So what’s the issue @ArtesianBuilds? (cont.) pic.twitter.com/3xSOIpUKRA— kia (@kiapiaa_) March 1, 2022
The Aftermath of Artesian Builds
Artesian Builds and Katz were immediately torn apart by the streamer community. Loads of people who previously affiliated with Artesian Builds removed their affiliate links from their channels, publicly called out the company, and loudly supported Kia due to the harassment she garnered from Katz.
But, that’s not all.
Intel Gaming, the company who sponsored the giveaways, issued a statement condemning Artesian Builds and calling out Katz’s negative statements about small streamers. “We strive towards welcoming streamers of all sizes to our programs and do not agree with recent negative comments directed towards small streamers,” the statement read via Twitter.
Katz would later publicly apologize to Kia via the Artesian Builds official Twitter account, however all apology tweets have since been deleted. Artesian Builds also offered to send Kia the computer she won fair and square, but she declined.
In less than two weeks following the incident, Artesian would part ways with Noah, announce that they were thinking of “a potential employee-led buyout”, and then revealed that Artesian Builds would be stopping all business and sponsorships immediately and indefinitely after all the outrage at the company’s actions.
So what can content creators and brands learn from this situation? Here at StreamerSquare we would like to talk it through, so that we can learn from this experience together.
3 Lessons Creators Can Learn From the Artesian Builds Fallout
1) Work with companies you already use or ones you can vouch for through networking
Forming continued partnerships with brands that you know and love is a consistent way to partner with various businesses. If you trust the product or the people behind the product, you are more likely to trust the process of working with a company.
If you’re working with a company you don’t know and have not worked with before, it’s important to do your research. Find out what the company states as significant values to their brand, and assess if these values align with yours.
If you know someone who has worked with this company, ask around to determine if this opportunity matches the experiences you’re looking for. Networking with other streamers should include critical discussions about businesses you plan to work with or have worked with in the past. Sharing this knowledge and your past experiences, definitely helps those that might not know how to proceed with a partnership.
Most importantly, trust your gut. If you’re getting a bad vibe from a company or spokesperson, don’t work with that company until you’ve had the chance to do more research or talk to other creators about their credibility.
2) Look at how a company communicates with their customers and small creators. They may act one way to popular creators and another way to small streamers
It’s always a good idea to look into the social media history and general interactions of the company you’re thinking of working with, across a variety of mediums. Looking at who brands interact with on social media or who they have on their roster of affiliates/partners, can help you determine if this brand is diverse and welcoming of all creators.
If a brand is not welcoming to all creators, it’s normally not a company you want to work with.
If a brand is constantly getting in hot water due to crunch time, workplace harassment and other general awful business practices, you might want to think twice before affiliating yourself with them. As a streamer, your affiliations can speak loudly when it comes to your brand so it’s important to do your research to connect with companies that align with your ideals, morals, and values.
3) Don’t get mesmerized by glamorous terms like “Partnership” or “Ambassadorship” when accepting opportunities
It can feel exciting and important to take sponsorship opportunities and potential free items from companies who claim they want to work with creators, but it’s important not to get taken advantage of in the process.
Artesian Builds offered an affiliate program for creators where all they had to do was post a link on their Twitch channel panels to advertise the product. There was initially no sale or click requirement to maintain that status. Affiliates could win prizes like merchandise or even a brand new PC by being a part of the program. In addition, the creator would get an affiliate link, where some amount of a purchase would end up in the affiliate’s pocket. The program ended up being different than advertised, so it’s important to understand when you’re being swindled. As a content creator, you really need to sit down and define how much you’re worth.
Learn about the important distinctions between a sponsorship and an affiliate program in our course on SolarStream.
3 Lessons Brands Can Learn From the Artesian Builds Fallout
1) Don’t just use creators, create a mutually beneficial partnership that allows both parties to grow together
As a business it’s essential to approach partnerships with genuine intention and a commitment to positive growth for both company and creators.
There’s nothing worse than a company developing a reputation for using creators for their particular niche, community, or resources. Content creators are business owners and so partnerships should be transactional, there must be benefits for both parties. It’s important to take care of your creators to ensure they can continue their business and continue promoting your product.
Remember that exposure isn’t payment, so treat your creators as business partners when deciding on compensation.
2) Creators are worth more than just their metrics – there is no numerical minimum or maximum that determines a creator’s impact or reach
Content creators often put countless amounts of time and effort into curating communities, spaces, and resources that aim to make a positive impact in the world. This is done through brand building, digital marketing, community leadership, media editing, business management and so many other tasks that come along with creating content.
There are lots of benefits for working with a variety of creators because you get a more diverse series of skill-sets, talents, perspectives, and experiences. It’s ignorant to think that a creator’s metrics are equal to the impact they may have within their own community.
If you’re working with a creator who has values that align with your company’s vision, then any impact they have – no matter how small, is going to matter.
3) Be transparent about program requirements
Katz didn’t need to do or say anything during the Artesian Builds stream beyond, “Congrats Kia! We’ll message you later regarding your win.”
If he had done that, Artesian Builds would’ve likely stayed in business, Kia would’ve happily kept promoting them, and this article wouldn’t exist. Instead, Artesian Builds chose to change the rules and circumstances of the giveaway on the spot.
One of the worst things you can do as a company is move your goalposts around for programs or giveaways. This shows that you’re inconsistent as a brand if you can’t stick to promises, leading to a negative impact on your community and the content creators you work with.
Staying transparent about your requirements and expectations of affiliate creators is the most successful way to promote a positive and hassle-free experience for everyone involved.
Content creators talk to each other openly and often about brand deals and partnership opportunities, no matter what size their content may be. The last thing you want as a company is a bad reputation for being sneaky or manipulating situations – this is guaranteed to make creators avoid working with your business in the future.