Is a Discord community worth it?
Is it worth building a Discord community?
In a word, yes. In two words: hell yes. A community is a huge opportunity to drive real results for any brand, music artist, record label, sports team, podcast, content creator or anyone with a shared passion.
You probably know Discord is hugely popular with people engaging with their favourite games. But it's more than just a place for gamers to hang out. Discord exploded in popularity in 2020 and has continued to grow, with people now heading there to hang out and chat about all kinds of subjects: music, TV, sport, dating, investing and more.
Discord has over 150 million active users across 19 million active groups. But this isn't a numbers game: Discord community members are actively seeking connection with each other and with the brands, artists, podcasts, creatives and topics they love.
Here at Levellr, we see that connection pay off for both fans and brands. When a music artist is releasing their latest album, a Discord community is a read-made army of fans ready to spread the word, build the buzz and buy merch. When the hosts of a podcast want to offer their fans something more, a community is the place for listeners to discuss the latest episodes. When a brand like Starbucks wants to add depth to its loyalty programme, a Discord community is the perfect platform for fans to connect with the brand and each other.
Community is all about building a human, emotional connection between people. That's what keeps them coming back to your brand.
What is Discord?
Discord is a free messaging app that allows people to chat in real-time among the group, as well as share memes, music, videos and pictures.
Basically it's like Slack, but fun.
The great thing about Discord is that it's designed for people to make connections that are deeper and more meaningful than is possible on social media. Younger people are already spending time in spaces Harvard Business Review calls 'digital campfires', as Gen Z looks for intimate, safe online destinations where they connect over shared experiences or passions.
35% of Gen Z are on Discord - more than Reddit or Twitch, according to Insider Intelligence. Just by being on Discord, they're signalling their willingness to engage with a brand and deepen that relationship. Cultivating this connection drives real results in marketing and monetisation metrics.
(For more on the basics, check out our intro to Discord.)
Discord is better than social
Discord offers numerous advantages over social media and other places that just aren't that social any more.
Social media broadcasts to a mass audience, which can give you nice big numbers like follower count. But it's impossible to tell who's a genuine fan ready to engage and spend money, and who's a casual observer, troll or bot.
By contrast, if a person joins a Discord community they're clearly invested in the subject or brand. That means you don't have to waste time appealing to a general audience or wading through an endless comments from people who are unlikely to engage with your brand anyway. Instead, even though the Discord community looks smaller, you can be confident everyone in that niche is seeking out opportunities to do more. These aren't customers, they're fans - superfans, even.
These passionate fans offer a huge opportunity to drive key metrics. According to a Spotify report spotlighting the value of the most engaged fans, the superfans who make up the top 2% of an artist’s streams buy 52% of merch sales. Superfans number around 15% of the US population but spend 80 percent more on music than the average person, according to research company Luminate.
On social media, comments from the audience are lumped into one long, hard-to-read scroll, if not hidden completely. Discord, meanwhile, is specifically designed for messaging: between fans, and between the community's owner and members. That's a huge opportunity to deepen the relationship with the brand, because engaged fans are keen both to hear from the brand and to be heard themselves. Simple but effective engagement strategies pay off massively here, such as XP rewards, teasers and exclusives that fire up superfans so they want to keep coming back.
Genuine two-way communication brings in new fans: when Maisie Peters teased her new album The Good Witch with a puzzle-based activation, the server saw 9% growth as new members joined. The community participation rate also shot up from 4.5% to 19.8% - almost twice the industry standard 10%. Not long after, the album went to no. 1.
What happens in Discord doesn’t stay in Discord. Engagement numbers like the participation rate are a sign of a community which is excited about the artist or subject, and when those numbers spike around a product release or activation it’s a sure sign that fans are ready to buy into whatever the artist brand is cooking up.
They’re also keen to spread the word to friends and on other platforms, which is a huge marketing win: 83% of customers trust personal recommendations more than any marketing, according to Nielsen. Word of mouth is the primary driving force behind 20 to 50% of all purchasing decisions, according to McKinsey.
A thriving community based on genuine communication can be directed towards monetisation opportunities in ways which feel organic, rather than feeling like a brand is advertised at them. For example, our Spotify integration connects Discord to the streaming service. Artists and their teams can track listening habits - around 489m tracks streamed per year in communities managed by Levellr, which means Discord users as a whole could be streaming well over a billion songs annually. Useful info, but there’s more: by offering rewards for streaming you can encourage fans to head back to Spotify and listen even more, bumping streaming revenue.
Other monetisation opportunities include merch and ticket sales. When Fall Out Boy planned a new tour, Levellr suggested an exclusive pre-sale within the Discord server. The server buzzed with 49,188 messages and emojis sent by fans on the day, which translated into 25,000 tickets and $2 million overall sales in just 24 hours, all tracked from Discord.
Discord is ideally suited for running a true community because it gives community members flexibility to have the conversations they want. Within the server you can set up channels about specific topics, so fans feel control over what aspects of the community they follow. Fans can chat how they want, sharing messages, reaction emojis, pictures, videos or even calls and group calls. For community owners, moderation features make it easy to keep the community safe and on track, especially with the help of moderator training and tools.
When an engaged group of people gathers in a safe and user-friendly environment, the stage is set for the community to be more self-sustaining than social media. It's important for the community owner to be present in the space, communicating and contributing - but once the brand or fans themselves start the ball rolling, conversations continue with as much or as little input as the community owner wants to commit. It doesn't take much commitment of time or effort to nudge the conversation along, which is ideal for keeping members interested and attracting new members even between launches and activations.
Analytics and insights
Social media's follower counts are nice to look at, but Discord gives you a huge amount of actionable data on your genuine fans. Partnering with a company like Levellr turbo-charges Discord with extra features, such as Levellr's analytics dashboard which shows you granular insights into everything from where your fans are based to what music they're listening to.
Discord is designed so you can customise the experience with automated bots. For example, Levellr's custom admin bot can take care of useful tasks like scheduling posts and notifications, so you can communicate with fans automatically and repeatedly. Revenue integrations make it easy for superfans to show their support by buying tickets, merch, subscriptions or any product they'd enjoy.
What are the pros and cons of Discord?
On any social or messaging platform, the platform owns the relationship with the user. That means that if Discord decides the rules. However, there are ways to ensure a direct relationship between brand and fan outside of the platform, insulated from potential future changes. For example, a custom-built sign-up page can include marketing consent options, so when a fan joins the Discord server you also capture their email to contact them directly. When Fall Out Boy launched their Discord, 10,000 fans signed up in the first 48 hours - and more than half opted in to emails. The industry average is 2%.
A brand may also have security concerns about using a third-party platform. A robust moderation strategy and support with community management helps here.
A Discord community offers more features and engagement than social media, but that doesn’t mean it has to replace existing social media channels. Think of social channels as the top of the funnel, where artists and brands can promote the Discord community to draw superfans into a dedicated space where they can be targeted and tracked more effectively.
How to build a Discord community
So yes, it's definitely worth having a Discord community. Whether growing an existing community or starting from scratch, any brand will benefit from cultivating deeper relationships with the most engaged fans.
At Levellr we work with clients from music artists like Fall Out Boy to global brands like Starbucks, driving real marketing and monetisation results. Our community management expertise and simple but powerful tools add an extra layer to Discord so any brand can measure and monetise these private spaces much more effectively than social media.
Contact Levellr today to find out how you can build a community which works for your brand - because you're worth it.