Why Discord is the platform to watch
Updated: Mar 9
Community managers need to live an omni-channel existence, but if you are spending most of your time hopping back and forth between Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and review sites to try to understand your customers and fans better, you may be missing out on a lot.
One of the swiftly rising stars is Discord, for gaming chatter as well as for topics that stretch far beyond RPGs. While today Discord is mainly used by gamers, other topics are starting to come to the fore.
What is Discord?
Discord is one of the primary channels for gamers to swap tips, codes, and modding ideas about all things gaming. Gamers “hang out” on many different platforms, but Discord is the only platform designed expressly for gamer communities.
Of course, it’s long since branched out to support many different communities, which are called servers. There are servers dedicated to art, poetry, music, Lego, and more, so managers for other types of communities may soon find their fans setting up shop on the platform, but gaming still occupies the majority of the server topics. Even events (in-person and virtual) are setting up Discord servers to help their attendees network and engage with each other. Going beyond gaming, popular Discord servers today include topics such as anime, KPop and sharing memes.
Discord users can communicate through voice and video notes as well as through text messages, share links, videos, gifs, and music, and send private messages too. Some Discord servers are public and well-moderated, like official servers for Fortnite and Call of Duty. But private servers are entirely self-moderated, so it’s up to the users to set rules, agree on topics, and define codes of conduct.
Discord is hopping; it should be on your radar
Since it began in 2015, Discord has grown massively, reaching 100 million monthly members and 6.7 million active servers by June 2020. Part of its success is because you can chat on Discord on any platform, not just through phone and browser apps but also directly from gaming platforms like Xbox or Playstation.
Discord is busier than you may think, especially for the gaming industry. For some companies (particularly gaming companies), you’ll find around 200 times more bustle and chat there than on Twitter, based on data from our Affogata platform. For example, we investigated one gaming company using Affogata, and discovered that within a nine-day period, there were over 17,000 posts on a Discord server, compared with fewer than 700 for Facebook, which had the next highest number of engagements
Every other platform, including Reddit, Twitter, YouTube, and Google Play, saw under 100 posts each during that time frame, although it’s worth noting that some individual posts on lesser-used platforms can drive a lot of responses. One YouTube video for this company generated over 1,500 engagements!
When you break it down to posts per user, Discord still leaves other channels in the dust. The average Discord user published 9 posts in the time period studied, in contrast with Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram users, who published an average of 1.3 posts, 1.5 posts, and 2 posts respectively.
The difference is even more pronounced when you look at the top 10% of the most active users. Discord’s most active users posted an average of 71 times, close to 10x the number of Instagram’s most active users, who published 11 posts in the same time period, and vastly outpacing Facebook’s most active users, who posted 5 times, and Twitter, which saw 2.4 posts from it’s most active users.
It’s interesting to note that time of activity varies between the channels. Fans on Discord, Facebook, and Twitter are most active in the evening. Only Instagram has a different pattern, with the majority of posts published around midday.
Sentiment and post length in Discord and other social channels
Discord comes across as the home for conversation and tip-swapping around games, as well as a place for people to brag about their accomplishments and seek sympathy for their setbacks within a game. Here’s just one example:
“well biggest ops level CC out there lol i put up a fight, ill go kicking a screaming but ill sure put up a fight”
Posts on Google Play, the Apple App store, and Reddit tend to be longer, over 20 words, and spark long discussions, because those are typically platforms for reviews, complaints, and people looking for help with specific problems with a game. But those on Discord, like on Instagram and Facebook, are usually about recent achievements or general chat, so they tend to be in the mid-range, i.e. 4 to 20 words in length. The discussion threads on those three channels are also generally medium in length, shorter than threads on Google Play, Reddit, or the App store.
It’s a similar story when it comes to sentiment. The majority of Discord posts - a good two-thirds - are neutral in tone, like those on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, while posts on Reddit, Twitter, and YouTube tend even more to neutrality. In contrast, 63% of the posts on the App store are negative, and posts on Google Play are split equally between positive and negative ones, but with very few neutral posts.
As you can see, Discord is seeing a significant amount of activity for gamers, and it would be a mistake to overlook or ignore it as an option to build your community on. You might think that you’ve got a good handle on your community sentiment as it is, but you’ll be missing a good deal if you stop at Facebook or Twitter.
While it’s still primarily populated by gamers, other communities are growing fast. Depending on your niche, you might be well advised to keep an eye on Discord in case you wake up suddenly to realize that you’ve missed a lot of action there.
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