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Using Discord for community management

Using Discord for community management

Discord began in 2015 as a digital platform for gamers to connect and have conversations about their favorite games. But over the last half-decade, it has grown into a premier destination for communities of all types, allowing members to engage in discussions around a practice (like stock trading) or product (like a particular piece of software). In March 2020, the company even changed its motto from “Chat for Gamers” to “Chat for Communities and Friends.”

If you’re a community leader or DevRel pro new to Discord and seeking to get better informed, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we'll help you understand Discord community management so you can decide if the platform is right for you and your community.

What is community management?

Community management involves day-to-day practices to engage and monitor a community, including welcoming new members, facilitating interaction, responding to user inquiries, and more. Community managers are responsible for ensuring that the community is a safe space where members can engage, build relationships, and have healthy conversations to learn more about a product or practice.

For communities of product, these community leaders not only provide support to members but also obtain feedback that can be used to debug or enhance the product. Community leaders know these kinds of activities and engagement activate the community and benefit the business, through outcomes like higher user acquisition and retention. As such, community management becomes essential to the growth of a company, and vital in helping it achieve its goals.

Selecting your community tech stack will be critical to success, and a chat app like Discord is a common early step.

Discord for community management: the basics

Discord has quickly become a leading community channel where members can engage with one another and, often, with product experts from the company.

With features designed for conversations, Discord allows users to interact with each other through text, voice chat, and video calls. Using a Discord server, a company can provide a virtual meeting space where their community members can have free-flowing discussions to cheer, jeer, or ask questions about a particular product or topic.

Given Discord’s origins, it should come as no surprise that games such as Fortnite, Minecraft, and Animal Crossing all have Discord servers with huge memberships. But software companies like Supabase, Figma, and Chainlink have jumped on the Discord bandwagon too.

What makes Discord a great place to grow your community?

Community management is about monitoring and engaging to give members what they need and help the community grow. Discord provides the messaging tools necessary so members and community managers can communicate easily, making it vibrant and an excellent place to convene.

The pros and cons of Discord for community management

You still may be asking yourself whether Discord is the proper channel for your online community versus another like Slack or Discourse. To help you decide, here are a few pros of why the platform can contribute to successfully seeding an online community and cons that highlight its limitations.

Pros

  • Real-time messaging: Discord makes it easy to have free-flowing conversations via text channels, direct messages, and audio or voice calls.
  • Bots: Community managers can leverage programmable bots to automate tasks like providing welcome messages, removing unwanted content, reminding you of member birthdays or other notable dates, and even adding special content like music, polls, and giveaways.
  • Robust capacity: At no charge, you can add up to 500,000 members to your server, and add up to 500 channels within the server.
  • Strong free tier: Users and managers can enjoy many Discord features at no cost. Discord’s premium tier, “Nitro,” costs $99 per year and provides access to larger servers, HD video capabilities, and other perks.
  • Analytics: While not particularly robust, servers with over 500 members can access Discord’s built-in analytics system, which delivers insights on activity and engagement.

Cons

  • Limited organization features: A lack of discussion threads means conversations can get lost and swerve off topic, so community managers might miss an important question, concern, or data point.
  • Limited integrations: Discord provides only a few native integrations and most are targeted to gamers.
  • Anonymity: Anonymous user profiles can make it difficult to know who your members are, and can pose challenges to building a safe and inclusive community.
  • Limited uploads: File size uploads are capped at 8MB for free users. Nitro subscribers can send up to 100MB.
  • Limited branding: Servers offer limited branding or customization opportunities. The user interface, made for gamers, can come off as too casual for some B2B companies.

Which communities are the best fit for Discord?

Discord is great for communities looking for real-time communication through text, audio, or video. However, the platform allows anonymous user profiles which can prove challenging to creating a safe space where all members feel welcome. But because Discord has a robust free tier and doesn’t charge by the user (unlike Slack’s paid plans) it’s sensible for communities that are scaling rapidly like web3.

Managing your Discord community

Discord comes with a range of community management tools and capabilities that community managers can use to grow their base of devotees. These include features related to:

  • Setting up Discord
  • Servers
  • Chat channels
  • Roles and permissions
  • Community insights and analytics
  • Integrations

Here’s what you need to know:

Setting up Discord

Launching your community on Discord is free and easy. To get started, you need only to:

  • Download the Discord app for desktop or smartphone/tablet
  • Create your Discord account
  • Click the plus symbol on the left-hand side of the page
  • Select “Create a server”
  • Enter the name of your new Discord server
  • Click “Create”

Servers

Servers are the meeting spaces on Discord where people interact with one another. They can be large or small, open to anyone or invite-only. Just as starting a server is easy, so too is joining one. Members need only perform a few keystrokes and they’re in.

Chat channels

If the server is the building where a community meets, then chat channels are the specific rooms. Channels can be devoted to a specific topic (e.g., support, feature requests, bugs) to focus conversations. Community managers can make certain channels private, and adjust both text and voice permissions to better manage conversations.

Roles and permissions

After setting up a server, a community manager will be able to assign Discord roles which include server owner, admin, moderator, and friend. With each role comes a set of permissions that will govern what an individual can do while managing their community.

  • The server owner has complete access to the server. It’s usually the person who created the server, although ownership can be transferred.
  • Those given administrator permissions have control over the server, and can assign roles, modify channel settings, and use bots.
  • Users with moderator permissions have the power to timeout members, view audit logs, manage messages, and mute members.
  • Users with friend permissions can move members and change nicknames.
  • Users with member permissions can engage in the actions determined by others in the hierarchy (typically basic functionality).

Community insights and analytics

While there are any of a number of metrics community leaders can use to measure the success of their community, we recommend tracking the following:

  • Membership: the number of community members and their type (e.g., influencer, contributor, champion)
  • Engagement: how frequently members interact and participate in community activities including conversations, events, and programs
  • Responsiveness: the speed and frequency community members receive a reply to their posts from other members and community leaders

Server insights from Discord provide information community managers can use to help scale their community. Discord delivers data on visitors (e.g., where they’re from, how long they’ve been a member), communications (e.g., those engaged in conversations), and member retention. A community growth platform like Common Room can enhance these insights by centralizing member information, surfacing important conversations, measuring sentiment, and generating reports on activity.

With this information, community managers can determine whether the members are engaged, and enjoy the discussions enough to return. If not, community managers take actions (e.g., reaching out to influencers, hosting events, adding more resources to answer member queries) in the hopes of achieving the desired metrics.

Integrations

Discord’s native integrations include YouTube, Twitch, Zendesk, Patreon, Common Room, and more so that community members can seamlessly leverage multiple apps and enjoy a frictionless experience while doing so. The platform also integrates with forms and landing pages, providing community managers with smoother workflows. Users can leverage Zapier to integrate with other third-party applications.

Why intelligent management is critical for your community

Setting up your Discord server is just the first step in building your online community. There’s still much work to be done. You must take intentional steps to grow your community so that it scales while remaining active and healthy.

Intelligent community management involves leveraging artificial intelligence, automation, and digital tools to help manage interactions and replace manual workflows. Community managers know all too well that staying on top of conversations, requests, bugs, and just being present can be challenging. But failing to do so will result in a static community that never reaches its potential.

How Common Room can help

Common Room provides community managers with AI & ML-powered intelligence, automated workflows, and custom reports so they can spend less time juggling manual spreadsheets and more time engaging with members of their community.

Common Room integrates with a host of messaging platforms, including Discord, to give you a complete view of your members’ profiles, surface the important discussions, and gauge the sentiment of conversations. Try Common Room for free today or request a demo.

If you’re considering hosting a Discord online community and want to learn more about the platform, check out our article on Discord vs Slack vs Discourse to see how these community channels stack up against each other.

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