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Should you build a community on Discord?
Dec 15th, 2022

Should you build a community on Discord?

At its inception in 2015, Discord was built for communities of gamers. But since 2020, Discord has seen a rise in popularity for hosting other communities, with servers focused on sports, TV, programming, travel, memes, music, investing, and more.

Discord has also snagged the attention of organizations looking to cultivate active and engaged user communities. So, how do you know if Discord is the right place to start building your community?

We’ve put together a primer in this post to help you decide.

What is Discord?

Discord is a communication platform focused on real-time text, audio, and video conversations.

Discord offers a free plan and is easy to use, with a range of community management features and supported integrations. This ease of use allows organizations, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders to find success in building communities on Discord because it gives them the following:

  • Ability to connect. Discord offers multiple ways to connect, including text messaging, video, and voice chat. Four billion server-conversation minutes (voice chats) and 530 million messages are sent daily, showing that users appreciate the variety of more than text-only channels.
  • Moderation capabilities. The permissions and roles functionality offered by Discord provides community leaders with a layer of control over community channels that helps to ensure communities continue to be healthy and safe spaces for members.
  • Unbeatable price. Discord offers a feature-rich option that is free for both organizers and end users. Discord also has a paid offering (Nitro) with even more features, like the ability to upload bigger files and HD streaming.

While there are benefits to building a community on Discord, there are still challenges worth considering. Read on to learn the pros and cons of building a community on Discord and if Discord is the right platform to support your community engagement initiatives.

If you’re curious to see how Discord compares to other popular community communication platforms, check out the post: Discord vs. Slack vs. Discourse.

What is community management?

Community management is a broad term that encompasses the activities related to cultivating and serving a group of members with a shared interest in a practice or product, across both digital channels and in-person events. At its core, community management is how you maintain the health of your community and keep your members active and engaged.

Community management covers the day-to-day activities community leaders execute to benefit the health of their community. This ranges from facilitating member interactions to responding to user inquiries and sending welcome messages to new members—and so much more.

To ensure you are effectively managing your community, you need to use a platform that’s the right fit for you and your members. Choosing the ideal platform to host your community will depend on your community goals.

Use your community goals to guide your platform selection

Communities, like the people who make them up, are diverse. Your core members will have different career goals or interests, and just as your members differ, so will your platform of choice.

To choose the best communication platform for your community, revisit your goals by answering these questions.

  • Why are you building a community?
  • Who are your ideal community members?
  • Why are they eager to join your community?
  • How would they prefer to interact with you and other members?
  • Which communication platform best supports these goals and why/how?

Understanding your community goals is the best way to pick a community platform on which to build.

What types of communities is Discord best suited for?

Discord can be a fit for any community looking for a communication platform with a variety of ways to connect, including text, video, and voice chat. It’s grown particularly popular for developer and web3 communities.

Here are a few scenarios where Discord tends to be the best chat solution for a community.

  • Your ideal community members are developers, gamers, or web3 and crypto enthusiasts who many have familiarity with Discord and even prefer the platform
  • Your community is massive (or you anticipate it will grow to be) and you need more advanced moderation and role management to manage your members at scale
  • You’re building a community of product to support end users and customers and plan to frequently engage over live audio and video for tutorials, workshops, and more
  • You’re starting a community of practice with a limited budget, but want a full-featured communication platform for your community

Discord has evolved into a place where you can find almost any community that suits your interests—gaming or not. And should that community not exist yet, with Discord, you can easily create it.

Pros and cons of building your community on Discord

It’s true that Discord has evolved and become incredibly popular with hobbyists and professionals alike, but—before deciding if Discord is the right platform for your community's needs—carefully weigh the pros and cons of the platform.

Pros of building on Discord

Community management features

Discord offers a variety of community management features. And since Discord was initially intended to house communities from its very start, it has quite a few features that community leaders can easily take advantage of.

Channels are a Discord feature that is a staple for community leaders. After you have created your Discord server, you create channels. With Discord, you can build out custom channels with specific purposes or topics for each—from product questions and job opportunities, to celebrating wins and highlighting community members. Features like this help to keep conversations organized and make it easier for users to locate where and how they want to participate.

Custom permissions allow you to specify which users have access to what functionality. Features like these help community leaders manage smarter.

Another awesome feature that Discord offers is programmable bots. Discord bots are AI-driven, automating tasks and integrating other engagement tools like games or polls.

Discord's bots become critical as your community grows because they can help support your community's moderation efforts. For example, you can automate custom commands, welcome messages, or use notifications to alert members to events or product updates.

Easily integrate with other tools

Common Room, Patreon, Twitch, YouTube, and Zendesk are only some of Discord’s native integrations. This ease of integration allows community members to easily leverage numerous apps and appreciate a frictionless experience while doing so.

Discord also integrates with landing pages and forms, delivering smoother workflows for community leaders. Additionally, for users looking to leverage third-party apps, Discord also easily integrates with Zapier.

Free to use

Discord has built a popular platform with a core functionality of providing text and voice chat at no cost. You cannot beat Discord’s price tag; it is free for end-users and community organizers without membership limits.

While Discord’s free tier is feature-rich, Discord does offer a paid plan, Nitro. Nitro, includes additional features like HD streaming and the ability to upload bigger files.

Cons of building on Discord

User anonymity

Discord allows users to create profiles using any name or picture they want.

This means it’s harder to know exactly who is in your community, which can make building and maintaining a safe and inclusive community more challenging. Some users really value this anonymity, so will be more likely to join a community that offers this option via Discord.

Character limits

A message in Discord should be at most 2,000 characters. Compare that to a Slack message that only truncates after 40,000 words.

If you exceed the word limit on Discord, Discord will send the message as a file. Similarly, the file size can not exceed 8 Mb. because you can only send larger files with the paid subscription, Nitro.

These limitations can hinder community organizers and leaders—imagine sending out a product announcement to your community using less than 2,000 characters…

Informal UI

When it comes to UI (user interface), a slow, buggy, or unintuitive UI can ruin user experience and deter users from using the most popular or powerful community platforms.

Discord’s more playful UI and ease of use are one reason why gamers and loyalists continue to use the platform. However, other platforms have a UI and features more geared at a professional audience that can help B2B community leaders manage better, like Slack or Teams—putting Discord at a disadvantage in the B2B space.

While some B2B organizations have successfully built their community on Discord, platforms like Slack are more familiar to professionals because they use it at work. Compare that to the more casual UI of Discord, which can have a dizzying effect on newbies. This automatically puts Discord at a disadvantage since it does not have a B2B heritage as Slack does.

Security and trust concerns

Discord monitors users’ activity and displays that to others, and users cannot deactivate this option entirely.

Furthermore, you do not own the relationship with your user; the platform does. So, if Discord decides to change the rules on how you can access the community, Discord can do that, and you would have no leverage.

Limited analytics

The analytics provided natively by Discord are limited. In order to get valuable insights into how your community is engaging on your platform, you’ll want to leverage an intelligent community growth platform like Common Room.

Next steps: building and managing your community

Discord’s popularity and ease of use are why community leaders continue turning to the platform to host their members, and Discord is building a strong track record of supporting flourishing communities for hobbyists and organizations alike.

Given this success and the recent changes to Slack’s pricing and packaging, many have considered migrating their community from Slack to Discord. Ultimately, deciding whether Discord is the right platform to host your community will depend on your organization’s specific community and business goals.

For more on building a community on Discord, check out the following resources:

How Common Room can help

For many leaders, selecting the communication platform for your community is a critical early step in building your community technology stack.

As your community grows, you’ll also want to consider adding a layer of intelligence for visibility into member engagement across all your digital channels. Common Room provides this holistic view of your community and allows you to take action to deliver personalized and authentic interactions across the entire customer journey.

For community leaders, Common Room helps you understand, activate, and scale your community through intelligent insights, custom reports, and automated workflows.

Try Common Room for free or request a demo to learn more about how to intelligently engage and grow your community.