Choosing the right channels for your community is an essential step in your community growth journey. While the tool must serve your goals as a team and business, it should also meet your community’s unique needs and preferences.
For example, Discord was initially developed to facilitate real-time conversation between gamers, whereas Slack, another popular platform, got its start in the business communication space. These tools’ origins are still visible in their functionality and user experience today, and one may be a better fit for your community than another.
Here we’ll be focusing on Discord, a platform that has seen significant growth in recent years, jumping from 56 million monthly active users in 2019 to 150 million users today. Read on to see what community leaders love about Discord’s community management features and if they could benefit your community.
There are several reasons driving Discord’s popularity as a channel for community growth:
Below, we’ll dive deeper into Discord’s community management features, but if you’re curious to see how Discord measures up against other popular platforms, check out our comparison post on Discord vs. Slack vs. Discourse.
As a platform that was intended to house communities from its inception, Discord has quite a few features for community managers to take advantage of, including:
One of your first tasks after creating your Discord server is to create channels—think old-school chat rooms from the early days of the internet. Build out a custom set of channels and specify the purpose or topic of each, like product questions, job opportunities, celebrating wins, and more. This keeps conversations organized and easier to manage, and allows users to find where and how they want to participate more easily.
The structure of your channels will greatly impact the experience users will have in your server. Too many channels with granular topics and your members’ contributions will be spread thin, giving the appearance of less engagement and potentially reducing participation overall. If you have too few channels, or ones that are too general in their use, conversations can get jumbled, with members’ comments or questions getting lost in the chatter.
At a minimum, Discord recommends having specific channels for:
You may also want to dedicate channels to specific organizational roles or industries, such as a more technical channel for developers, a support channel, and more. Consider monitoring conversations to identify common topics or interests that could be the basis for additional channels.
Discord’s role permissions are critical when building out your server. They allow you to designate which users have access to what functionality. For example, permissions control everything from who can boot problematic or spammy users, tag @everyone (pings all users in the channel), embed links or upload files, and who can create and edit channels.
Be cautious when building your community’s role hierarchies. You want your community members to have enough functionality that they will enjoy and get value from your community, but you don’t want them to have so much access that a single member could alter the server’s core settings or even pose a threat to your server’s security.
For example, allowing members to invite others to your server could be a critical element to the organic growth of your community, but if you find lots of spam accounts are being invited, you may have to rethink that strategy.
While roles and permissions contribute heavily to the security of your server, Discord offers additional layers of protection. For example, implementing verification levels is a great way to block spammy or malicious users from sending messages. Based on which of the five levels you implement, new members may be required to have a verified email or phone number on their account or have been a member of your server for longer than ten minutes before posting.
Discord also strongly encourages server-wide two-factor authentication. All moderators must have it enabled to take administrative actions, like editing a channel or deleting a message. This extra layer of protection helps to prevent threat actors from taking over an account with greater permission levels.
Explicit content or posts that violate community guidelines are another threat to the overall member experience. In busy servers, it can be difficult for moderators to review every post at all hours of the day, meaning that spam or inappropriate posts can slip through. To combat this, Discord offers an Explicit Media Content Filter, which monitors your channels for suspicious or inappropriate content and automatically deletes posts that violate these guidelines.
Integrations play a huge role in the customization, workflows, and user experience of your Discord server. Some of the main types of integrations include:
Discord is currently rolling out its new App Directory, where owners and moderators can browse through thousands of verified apps.
For community managers who don’t have the coding background required to implement webhooks, tools like Zapier offer pre-made integrations. For example, with Zapier you can automate a workflow in which a Discord message would trigger the creation of a ticket in Zendesk, including the customer’s comment and contact info, allowing customer support to track conversations across platforms.
Analytics are vital to understanding where your community is today, setting goals, and tracking your progress along the way. Discord provides Server Insights, which feature the same basic metrics that you’ll find on other platforms, such as:
It also provides insight into unique Discord-specific metrics. One example is your ratio of members to “communicators,” or members who have actually posted in a text channel or joined a voice chat. Discord recommends aiming for at least 30% communicators to prevent lags in engagement.
Another looks further into which voice channels your community engages with the most and tracks your server’s overall speaking minutes. This feature is useful when measuring general engagement and can also be tied directly to specific initiatives using voice chats and digital events.
The final metric we’ll touch on here is invite links. Server Insights shows you which invite links are bringing in the most new members, and which members are creating and sharing those invitations. This will point you to highly-engaged members who may be interested in producing a use case or tutorial, or even a good candidate for beta testing new features.
For community leaders seeking more advanced, cross-channel insights, we recommend an intelligent community growth platform, which can deepen your understanding of what's happening in Discord, as well as bring together all of your community engagement into one place.
Discord bots are AI-driven tools that help you automate tasks and incorporate other engagement tools like games, memes, or polls. Some bots even allow members to self-select certain roles or characteristics for their profile by adding a simple reaction to a bot message detailing the options. The bots then automatically add their selection to the user’s profile.
This enables users to personalize their profiles, gives them a way to identify other members who may share similar interests, or to grant themselves certain permissions/access (previously defined by an admin). The options here are endless, but some examples include self-selecting preferred pronouns, their title or the department they work in, and other specific interests.
Bots that support moderation are critical, especially as your community grows. For example, you can automate welcome messages, add custom commands, use notifications to alert members to events, and build out some of those self-selecting reaction roles that we mentioned.
As with any platform, using best practices to guide the setup and moderation of your Discord server is a great way to avoid common pitfalls and set your community up for success.
As we mentioned above, be intentional as you define roles and designate permissions, in addition to integrating bots and other apps. Anonymity comes with the territory to the internet, and it can be difficult to determine someone’s intentions at a glance. A malicious member who posts inappropriate content or a bot that sends spam links to other members can damage the user experience and your reputation. Lean towards caution when choosing who or what can have access to different aspects of your server.
Establish community guidelines or a code of conduct and post them in an easy-to-find location, like the #rules channel mentioned above. Here you’ll explicitly state the purpose of your community, set a no-tolerance policy for harassment of any kind, define the process for reporting malicious behavior, and give tips to help members get the most out of the community.
This code of conduct should be made available to new members during the welcome process. Discord recommends setting up a server welcome screen, where users will find these rules, in addition to the specific channels and actions a new member should start with. This helps orient them and gives them specific next steps for engaging with your community.
Once you have a strong foundation built, it’s time to nurture and scale your community.
As important as it is to find the best channelss to house your community, it’s also critical to integrate a tool that adds intelligence to your community growth efforts.
A platform like Common Room aggregates and analyzes data from across your channels to serve up a 360-degree view of community members, trending topics, and sentiment. Use these insights to cultivate and scale a healthy and engaged community, while also providing invaluable information to decision-makers from nearly every department throughout your organization.