Published 11 Dec 2022
Discord has caught the attention of digital marketers, especially with the rise of NFTs. It was initially a niche communication platform with the vast majority geared towards video gamers until marketers saw and harnessed its potential as an effective community management tool. But is it only for NFTs? The quick answer is no. Discord can …
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11 Dec 2022
Discord has caught the attention of digital marketers, especially with the rise of NFTs. It was initially a niche communication platform with the vast majority geared towards video gamers until marketers saw and harnessed its potential as an effective community management tool. But is it only for NFTs? The quick answer is no. Discord can benefit all products and services, making it a versatile tool for marketing specialists.
Discord is a relatively new platform, even newer than Slack. It was released in 2015 as a VoIP and instant messaging social platform where users can text, audio, and video call each other. The platform was created by Discord CEO Jason Citron and Co-Founder Stanislav Vishnevsky, who both come from the gaming industry. Citron explained how they saw communication issues while playing multiplayer video games like League of Legends. Players needed to communicate to figure out tactics, so they created a very straightforward and user-friendly chat solution that didn’t take much time and concentration from the actual play time.
Since then, it has evolved immensely from a mere chatting platform into a community management tool, similar to Reddit.
Everything on Discord is organized into servers. For context, servers are like workspaces in Slack or teams for Microsoft Teams. All communication on Discord happens on servers where you can add, chat or call other users.
Within the servers, you can create channels (text and voice) to help break down the communication into topics. If you are just starting a Discord channel, the server name is usually the name of your brand or the common interest that will unify all your server members, for instance, “NFT marketing.” Within this server, you can create channels such as tutorials, NFT collections, and NFT marketplace for more focused discussions around those topics.
You can discuss each topic separately via these designated channels and keep the communication organized. You also have the opportunity to make a private channel for confidential discussions and organize channels by creating categories and combining them.
Regarding channels, it’s also worth noting that you should avoid creating too many of them since it will scatter the users too much. Focus on one to three channels instead, especially at the start when you don’t have enough active members to sustain the activity on all channels. Here is a simple guide if you need help creating a Discord server.
In addition to text channels, you can also utilize voice channels for audio and video calls. It’s extremely convenient since you don’t have to share links or send invites. You can go to the audio channel any time and wait for the others to join, and if they have joined already, you will automatically connect to them. If you’re a visual learner, Discord has this 2-minute video that gives a full picture of what it entails.
Now, here are some important numbers to be aware of:
To get the most out of voice channels for your community management, you can organize webinars, games or watch parties (more on these later). Of course, you can also get creative and develop your ways of utilizing voice channels. Thanks to Discord’s user management and role allocation, you won’t have any difficulties maintaining your webinars, muting people, increasing speakers’ voices, limiting the number of users, or granting access only to a specific user role.
Everyone on Discord has a username that can be either their first and last name or something entirely different, like a nickname. This is how you find and invite people.
The next thing is roles which, in other similar platforms, refers to permissions. Anyone who creates a server becomes the administrator and can create and assign many different roles to the server members that will give them specific permissions or will derive them of certain features within that server.
Users can possess 29 permissions categories under General, Text and Voice based on their role. The basic roles are @everyone, which essentially grants the basic set of permissions such as chatting, reading messages, having calls, etc. and Moderator, which can ban certain Discord accounts or mute them. You can read more about Discord roles here.
Having roles within the server helps facilitate communication, and if you’re thinking of building a community on Discord, then you need to have a good grasp of the roles. You can also use Discord bots to gamify role allocation and grant certain functions to the most active of your members. We will also talk a bit more about roles and bots in the community management section of the article.
The emergence of NFTs can be traced back to 2014, but it was in 2022 that it took off and created so much buzz. Many NFT projects and brands turned to Discord to create and connect with NFT communities. One might assume that there was an overlap between gamers and blockchain/cryptocurrency/web3 enthusiasts, that’s why Discord became the go-to tool, but this is just an educated guess. Regardless of the reason, Discord became the platform of their choice, and as a result, it grew in popularity.
The NFT industry boom of 2022 and its subsequent NFT space in Discord begged the question – can other brands benefit from Discord too? It’s been known long before that it can.
One of the first brands to tap into the discord was none other than BMW, the famous German car producer. As you can see from the channel’s name, it revolves entirely around e-sports, not their cars specifically.
BMW was also one of the first brands to invest heavily in esports as a marketing channel. They are sponsoring some of the biggest tournaments in the world and organizations like Fnatic, G2 and Cloud 9.
Access to the community is free for everyone, and as you can see from the right section on the screenshot, members of e-sports organizations are also here. The goal of the BMW E-sports server is to make everyone not focus on the cars or even the brand specifically, but make sure that BMW is on top of the mind of a huge community of gamers whenever they think of getting a car.
Unlike BMW, their competitor Lamborghini decided to stay away from esports or other discord/gaming-related topics for their discord server and focused on their brand instead.
Here, people can showcase their cars, ask for advice, and discuss new models and anything they like. Lamborghini first shared an announcement about the launch of their Discord server across all of their social media channels to accelerate community growth.
Of course, not many global brands have such a big following, but even if you are just starting, use all the channels you can to get your base amount of followers. Make sure to use all your resources, whether a Facebook announcement or an email blast to your whitelist subscribers.
3. Hot Topic
Hot Topic is an American retail chain specializing in counterculture-related clothing and accessories and licensed music.
Instead of focusing their Discord server on their brand, they decided to go with another route and created a channel about a common interest many of their users had – Anime.
While the group focuses on anime and anime discussions, they also use it to promote their brand. In this server, they announce anime-related merchandise releases and organize giveaways, tournaments, and trivia competitions. Users can even discuss what kind of merch they’d love the brand to produce.
What they did is one of the best ways to get your ecosystem going since you meet some of the most important criteria for a successful discord community:
Otis is a startup that helps buy and sell shares of collectibles. According to their head of marketing, Cam Lay, the main goal of their Discord community is to provide assistance and customer service through the server. Whenever anyone has a question about Otis, people from Otis are there to help. This technique increases brand reputation and trust in the eyes of potential customers.
StockX was one of the earliest non-gaming-related brands to start a discord server. It started as a website for reselling sneakers but has since become one of the biggest platforms for selling basically every type of item.
StockX currently has a massive 42,000+ users on their server, but how did they achieve it?
First of all, StockX is not a traditional reseller. If you want to purchase something from the website, you can offer the seller a price or accept the asking price. Once you’ve agreed on the price, the product will be shipped to StockX, where they will verify the item before delivering it to the buyer. As you can guess, this type of transaction can raise many questions for buyers and sellers, and what better place to directly answer these questions than a Discord community. Here, the users can get answers from your company representatives and hear feedback from your other community members, who probably love your services (since they are here).
While the point of the article is to prove that Discord is not only for NFTs, it doesn’t mean you can’t integrate them as well. StockX introduced Vault NFTs to provide a new utility for their customers and join a new market for their business.
Now that we have agreed that Discord can be a valuable item in your marketing toolbox let’s understand how you can utilize it. Recognizing how essential building communities is for a brand is critical in this endeavor. There is an emerging trend in marketing where there’s a gradual move from social media marketing (i.e. posts for the general public) to building communities and designing and tailoring the content for that community. If you’ve concluded that this approach can benefit your business, then it’s time to open a Discord server.
There are two aspects to community management on Discord – set-up and engagement. First, you need to start a server on Discord and figure out what channels you want to have. You can emulate what Lamborghini does by focusing the discussion around their products or services or on a topic that interests your customer base, like what BMW and Hot Topic did. You know your customers the best, so take a moment to brainstorm with your team and decide what kind of Discord server you want. Some of the most commonly used Discord channels are:
The next step is engagement or, in other words, nurturing and keeping the community interested. Here are some things that you can do for that:
Besides these activities, there are also some key things to keep in mind when you create a Discord server:
Discord is no longer for gamers or NFT enthusiasts regardless of its initial purpose. It’s a great tool with huge potential that will help you get closer to your target audience and boost your efforts of having more loyal customers.
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