Blog Article

What Is Discord and What Is It Used For?

Logan Jory

2 min read

Future Trends

22 Apr 2024


The world of social media and online communications has changed significantly in the last decade, with numerous new and exciting platforms transforming the way audiences consume digital media. Data published in 2023 suggests almost 5 billion people currently visit social media platforms on a somewhat regular basis, so it's no wonder that brands and audiences alike view social media as an important tool.

While many people tend to understand at least the basic premise of popular platforms like Facebook and Instagram, some newer services may be misunderstood. Among the most interesting of these apps is the Discord platform, a social media site based around natural conversations and community building.

Discord is among the fastest growing media platforms at present, with its user base increasing by 87% in just the last 3 years. However, many brands and businesses may not be aware of how to effectively reach the 29 million active users that visit the site every day. For those who may have heard of Discord but not really know how the platform works, below is a simple guide to both Discord and its key features.

What is Discord?

Discord is a social media platform that enables its users to engage in conversations over text chat, voice chat or video chat channels. Rather than existing as a single centralised platform like many other social media sites, the service is divided up across multiple distinct servers. Different users are able to create servers focused on common interests, with options to invite like minded people to join new communities.

Discord servers can either be public or private spaces with users able to choose between these options during the creation of a new server. Public servers can be joined freely by anyone active on the Discord platform, while private servers are only accessible via a private link. Invite links can be sent by any existing server members with permission to create invite links, with authorisation issued via the server's settings.

Who uses Discord?

Discord was initially designed as a space for the gaming community to congregate online, but in recent years, the platform has expanded to include content from all walks of life. From servers focused on specific topics like TV shows or sports teams, to more abstract communities like general chat groups and study spaces, Discord offers its users a great deal of freedom in creating spaces to suit most needs.

As of January 2023, Discord had 563 million registered users, an increase of over 87% when compared to figures published in 2020. Of those 563 million users, it's believed 42.4% are aged between 25 to 34, with 22.2% of active Discord users aged between 16 to 24. In terms of gender demographics, figures published in 2023 suggest Discord is most popular among males, with men making up 66.6% of all users.

How to set up a Discord account

Like any social media platform, joining Discord is intentionally easy, though Discord may be even easier to join than many other services. Thanks to its roots in the gaming community, Discord is available as an app on both the Xbox and Playstation online stores, as well being accessible via most desktop browsers and smartphone app stores, ensuring members across all platforms are able to communicate freely.

To set up an account, users can either visit Discord's website or download the Discord app onto their platform of choice. After adding some personal details including an appropriate username, password and email address, a new account can be created. Members can also choose to verify their personal phone numbers on their accounts to enable multi-factor authentication for additional account security.

As soon as a new Discord account is created, users will be asked to join communities relevant to their interests. Typing keywords associated with different hobbies and pursuits into the service's search bar will return a list of communities members may wish to join. Servers with a hashtag next to their names are text channels, while those with a speaker icon next to the server name are voice channels. Members can use these signifiers to join communities that interact in a manner best suited to their requirements.

Discord Nitro

While the basic version of Discord is free to use, enabling anybody to create an account and join servers to talk and share direct messages with their friends, some members may wish to explore the platform's premium service. Discord Nitro adds more features to the standard Discord platform, though does cost a little money in the form of a monthly or yearly subscription. Users can choose between Discord Nitro Basic priced at around $3 per month, or the full version of Discord Nitro priced at around $10 per month.

Some popular benefits of Discord Nitro include:

  • Custom emotes and animated emojis

  • Custom application icons

  • 50MB (Basic) or 500MB (Nitro) file sharing

  • HD streaming up to 4K 60FPS (Nitro)

  • Exclusive Nitro profile badge

  • Custom video backgrounds

  • Extended 4000 character message limit (Nitro)

How to set up a Discord server

While it's perfectly acceptable to browse Discord as a community member, most people feel the real benefit of the platform is the ability for any account holder to create their own server with relative ease.

A Discord server can be created during any new user's initial account creation process by selecting the "create my own" prompt that pops up during authorisation. Alternatively, members may navigate to the left sidebar of their Discord dashboard and click the "+" symbol to open up the "create a server" prompt.

From here, Discord users can either select "create my own" to begin building a server with unique user settings, or choose from a number of templates that other users have deployed successfully in existing Discord servers. Later prompts will enable users to configure new servers as public or private spaces, with options to set rules like prohibiting explicit content or allowing server members to create invite links.

Tips for creating a successful Discord server
  • Choose a searchable name - Public servers should have a unique name relevant to the purpose of the server to ensure other users can find the community with ease, make sure to include keywords associated with the server's main focus, and ensure the server name isn't too long or complicated.

  • Create organised channels - Create multiple voice chat and text channels dedicated to different aspects of the community to ensure member conversations and community building activities are well-organised, popular examples include things like "general chat", "content creation" and "FAQs".

  • Set clear rules and guidelines - To build an engaging Discord server, it's important to make sure members follow general rules and guidelines regarding the types of conversations that can take place, rules can be added in the "server settings" tab found under "moderation" in the left side bar.

  • Moderate server activity - Moderators help server administrators ensure no inappropriate content is shared by other members, admins can choose to appoint trusted community members to act as moderators or utilise automated Discord bots to perform the bulk of the server's moderation tasks.

Can Discord be used for business?

While Discord may be best known as a space for members around the world to chat and become friends by bonding over shared interests, the platform can also be a great place for businesses and brands to make genuine connections with targeted audiences, as a scaled paid media channel to reach 21 million users.

This is especially true when brands choose to work with dedicated content creation professionals, with experts able to craft authentic branded content and develop data-backed strategies to connect brands with receptive audiences. Wildfire works alongside brands to select communities best aligned with their ideals, then creates authentic content designed to resonate with users to turn members into super fans as a paid media strategy.

To illustrate the potential power of Discord in terms of building engaging, brand-centric, community-led online spaces, below are some examples of how Discord can elevate traditional social media strategies.

Community building

One of the main benefits of Discord for brands is the platform's focus on real-time conversations held between different users. Unlike many other social media platforms, Discord is centred on safe direct messaging rather than simply sharing content or personal updates as public posts. Of course, these things are still possible on Discord, but the main draw of the site is real-time, meaningful conversations.

Brands can create their own servers, with multiple organised channels dedicated to different aspects of their business. This enables leaders to create natural spaces in which fans can congregate and share ideas, as well as receive direct messages from brand representatives to build meaningful connections.

Through this, brands can ensure their audiences are frequently updated regarding new developments, and even involve their fans in some business decisions via polls and Q+A sessions. Combining these elements within a well-moderated server helps businesses to develop strong and engaging fanbases.

Hosting live events

Discord's focus on real-time interactions also makes it a great platform for brands to host live events, enabling fans to receive additional value in return for being a member of a brand-oriented community.

Representatives can host quiz nights, hold Discord-exclusive contests and giveaways and broadcast live content such as podcasts or "ask me anything" sessions in order to facilitate natural engagement.

Live events don't necessarily need to be held on the Discord platform itself, brands can simply leverage the real-time nature of Discord communications to inform audiences of events hosted elsewhere. This can be an effective way to boost engagement on external websites to improve visibility in terms of SEO.

Audience research

Discord can also be a valuable tool for businesses looking to gain actionable insights about their fans.

Provided brands designate active servers as "community servers", leaders will gain access to a special "server insights" tab, opening a page that displays key stats like server growth and engagement metrics.

To gain "community server" status, admins must enable the following user settings on active servers:

  • Verification level - Server members must have a verified email address linked to their account before direct messages can be sent to other users

  • Explicit content filter - Members can still upload files and share images on the server, but all uploads will be scanned for inappropriate content before becoming viewable

  • Server rules channel - Brands must create and clearly label a dedicated server rules channel to ensure all members understand the code of conduct for engaging in the community

  • Community updates channel - A channel must be created in which Discord can send community-relevant updates and announcements to server administrators and moderation teams

With "community server" status achieved, brands will be able to analyse live engagement metrics to see how fans currently respond to different strategies, helping marketers optimise new content accordingly.

Personalised experiences

Discord comes with several tools that can be used to customise user experiences and make members feel more valued in the community. Commonly known as Discord roles, various permissions can be granted to users enabling active community members to interact with the platform in many unique ways.

Popular Discord roles include:

  • Role-based alerts - By beginning a message with the signifier "@role", admins can send direct messages to different segments of their audience depending on the role users have been issued

  • Flair - Users can be given custom icons and username colours to signify their role in the server, a simple way to make frequent contributors feel more valued

  • Private channels - Special channels can be created in which only users with certain roles are able to chat, this can be used to create special groups for different audience segments

Customer support

Finally, Discord can be an invaluable tool in terms of fast and accessible customer support. Brands can set up dedicated channels for users to directly communicate with customer support representatives, with teams able to respond to requests and questions immediately in a natural and personalised manner.

Specific channels can be created to ensure different types of requests are contained within appropriate spaces, while automated bots can be leveraged to quickly respond to FAQs. This can be a simple way to improve customer service by enabling members to talk with support teams freely at just about any time.

Is Discord right for your brand?

Engaging with the Discord community enables brands to reach potential super fans where they spend the most of their time, helping to build meaningful relationships that can boost engagement on exterior platforms.

For brands ready to build a winning Discord strategy, why not see what Wildfire can do for you?

Logan Jory

About the Author

Driving action on Discord for gaming & entertainment brands.

As featured in

Copyright 2024 Certainly Stuff Ltd.

All rights reserved.

Driving action on Discord for gaming & entertainment brands.

As featured in

Copyright 2024 Certainly Stuff Ltd.

All rights reserved.

Driving action on Discord for gaming & entertainment brands.

As featured in

Copyright 2024 Certainly Stuff Ltd.

All rights reserved.