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The Marketer’s Guide to Discord for Community Building

Whether you’re a gamer who already has the Discord app, or you’re looking to build an online community using Discord, learning what the platform has can help you surf the servers with ease. So, let’s break this down…

What is Discord?

Discord is a communication and social networking app that allows users to create and join servers (online communities) where they can communicate via text, voice, or video. The software allows users to share files and media and stream video and music. You can access the communication tool via the Discord app on mobile or desktop or through your browser.

When it comes to social networks, Discord is more like Slack than Instagram or Facebook. As CNBC put it, if Slack is a conference room, Discord is a bar. Discord allows more customization for its users, and the vibe leans more cocktail than corporate.

Discord is free to use. There are no messaging limits, and the free version allows unlimited access to up to 100 communities. Plus, it’s free to start your own servers. And, it’s a completely ad-free platform.

There are options for paid tiers, called Discord Nitro where base packages start at $9.99 and include upgrades such as server enhancements, access to 200 communities, animated avatars, and custom emojis. 

Now that you’ve got the basics, let’s break down who’s using the Discord app and why.

Drawing Back the Curtain on Discord Demographics

Discord currently boasts more than 150 million monthly active users. Users have to be over 13 years old to create an account, so Discord is populated by both teens and adults. Although, many servers require that users be 18+ to join due to sensitive content. 

The Marketer's Guide to Discord for Community Building-  pinterest pin

The average user falls between 16 and 20 years old, and 65 percent of people on the app are men. Discord is popular among Gen Z, with 5 percent of US teens saying Discord is their favorite social network. 

The software is most popular in the United States, with 30 percent of global traffic originating stateside. Canada is next in line, with 5 percent of the global traffic coming from our neighbors to the North. The UK is next on the list, with 4 percent of the global traffic. 

Discord is a niche paradise. More than 90 percent of servers on the platform have fewer than 15 users. So it makes sense that the platform fosters small, close-knit, and engaged communities.

Believe it or not, most Discord users are not gamers. The software started as a tool for gamers to communicate, but in recent years it has expanded to a more general online population. More on that in a bit. 

Distinguishing Discord by the Numbers

There are 19 million servers active on the app per week. The average American Discord user gets on the app for 9 minutes per day. And most of those minutes are used replying to comments or joining video and voice calls, not searching for new servers to join. 

Voice communication is heavily favored on the platform, with 4 billion minutes of conversation logged on the servers daily. The 530 million written messages sent on the platform daily pale in comparison.

Because Discord is free of ads, the paid version, Discord Nitro, is the app’s main source of revenue. In 2021, Discord raised $500 million in funding and was valued at $15 billion. When Discord wanted to go public last year, Microsoft was the only company to make a serious offer. But Discord rejected the $12 billion purchase offer to focus on its own growth. 

How to Use Discord

Discord is incredibly simple to use. The first step is to download the Discord app either to your desktop or mobile advice. If you’d like to skip this step, no worries. You can use the software directly in your browser. 

Discord header - marketers guide to discord
Discord Homepage

You’ll start by creating a username and password. Most Discord users choose a username that is different from their legal name. These nicknames serve as an added level of security, so your identity is not immediately revealed to other Discord users.

All you need to sign up is a username, password, and verified email address. You’ll also be asked to confirm you are a human and over 13 years old. From there, you’ll be prompted to join or create a server based on general server categories. 

Discord server. Discord for community building
Discord Server Prompt

If you’d like to find servers that cater to your interests, you can search tags on Disboard to discover Discord servers you might like. 

Finding Discord servers
Disboard Homepage

From there, you’ll receive and accept invitations to join servers. You’ll likely have to acknowledge and agree to server rules for each community you join. Once in a server, you’ll have access to text channels and voice channels on the left side of your screen. Text channels allow you to communicate via messenger, and voice channels give you space to hang out over voice or video.

There are plenty of ways to customize your Discord experience. At its core, the software is a communication tool, so it makes sense to get started on the app by learning how to navigate these communication channels. 

Dynamite Discord Features

Discord has so many cool features, we could fill an entire article with all the bells and whistles. We’ll highlight a few here that particularly piqued our interest. 

You can host a Spotify listening party and enjoy music in real-time with your friends. When on your desktop, you can indulge in video backgrounds for your video chats, so there’s no need to clean up before hopping online. Discord offers features to help you find your friends more easily, so you’re always connected. Plus, you can integrate messages from other platforms using Webhooks, so your group chat is up-to-date across sites. And of course, you can also stream, screenshare when you go live, spellcheck your text messages, and more!

Is Discord Safe?

Discord is a simple communication platform with a low barrier to entry. This is great news for the average user. Unfortunately, the ease of use is also attractive to scammers. There are ways for those with ill-intent to spam servers with inappropriate or adult content, spam, or even launch cyberattacks. 

Complaints of harassment make up 32 percent of Discord’s incident reports, and 13 percent are due to spam. Each server has a set of server rules you must agree to before entering the community. These rules are enforced by the server’s moderators.

CoinDogs Discord Server Rules

Beatbox Community Discord Server Rules

It’s important to note that Discord cannot track you. No one, not even server admins, can access your IP address. While it can’t track your location, it can access your communications. Because the platform doesn’t have end-to-end encryption, Discord — and anyone who hacks into the Discord system — can view your communications. Messages are only encrypted in transit.

There are ways to use the platform safely and to significantly lower your risks of such incidents. Discord recommends adjusting your privacy settings to “keep me safe” mode, and limiting your friend requests to server members or friends of friends. Public servers are a hotspot for phishing and scams, so it’s best to avoid those. Stick with private servers and those of people you know. 

It’s also a good idea to use a nickname when using the Discord app, rather than your legal name. The less private information you can make public, the better.

Discord is aware of these issues and working to keep its users safe. In the second half of 2021 alone, it removed some 1.7 million users due to community guideline violations. 

The Discord App is for More than Gaming

When Discord first hit the market in 2015, it was primarily used by gamers. Creators Jason Citron and Stanislav Vishnevsky wanted to find a way to play video games with friends while being able to communicate with them in real-time. Thus, Discord was born. It was originally branded as the “chat for gamers.”

When COVID-19 hit the scene in March of 2020, Discord responded to the lockdowns by pivoting its goal to become the “chat for communities and friends.” Their new tagline became, “Your Place to Talk.” The software allowed friends, families, and communities to keep in touch online despite physical isolation. And the tide turned. Today, Discord is for everyone.

As of 2020, 78 percent of Discord users claim to use the app for non-gaming purposes, or as a mixture of gaming and non-gaming. Before the pandemic, only 30 percent of users were on the Discord app for non-gaming purposes.

How Brands are Leveraging Discord

Discord grew during the pandemic because of social isolation and the boom in content creators. While average users turned to the web for connection, artists and entertainers turned to sites like Discord to continue their creations.

Because Discord is so community-focused, influencers use the platform for community building. The Discord app is especially popular with YouTubers, podcasters, and live streamers, who use the platform to grow and strengthen their communities. 

Discord Promo Tweet from CoinDogs

Discord is best used by brands and influencers in conjunction with other social networks, like TikTok or Youtube. Here’s a conversation on the CoinDogs Discord server about influencers boosting their content. 

Convo Screenshot from CoinDogs

As of this writing, there are 58 Discord servers tagged with “influencer” according to Disboard (a site for listing and finding servers). Because many servers house incredibly niche communities, it can be a great place for brands — and influencers — to get specific in their audience targeting. 

Patreon has integrated services with Discord, so those who subscribe to an influencer’s Patreon can be invited to a private Discord server for VIP fans. These servers give users exclusive access to their favorite creators, strengthening the influencer’s core community.

And That’s How You Demystify Discord 

All in all, Discord provides a wealth of resources for individuals looking to connect with their communities and brands hoping to resonate more with niche audiences. Online connection is a powerful tool, and the booming Discord community is proof audiences are still hungry for it. 

We hope this article answered all your burning questions. Next time somebody asks you, what is Discord? you’ll have a wealth of information to share with them. And if you’d rather save your breath, send them our way. Here at The Shelf, we’re in the business of making your social network navigation easier. We’ve got your back. 

If you’d like to learn more about how to incorporate Discord, or other platforms, into your influencer marketing strategy, give us a ring. Set up a discovery call with one of our experts below. And if you’d like to stay up to date on all things influencer marketing, subscribe to our weekly newsletter. 

Catch you on the Discord servers! 



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