Why Discord is better for hosting large communities than messaging apps (WhatsApp and Telegram)
Trying to figure out which platform to use for your community is a tricky process as it involves a variety of factors from a community standpoint (purpose, size, communication styles) and from a feature standpoint when looking at different platforms.
Discord is a great home for those who have access to a large group of people (1000+) and want to turn those people into community members. This is because Discord is like a world which can host buildings, homes, and rooms. WhatsApp and Telegram (platforms which originated as day-to-day messaging apps for fast-interaction purposes) are more like rooms which can lead into apartments and other rooms within the apartments, but the doors are quite hard to open.
Similar to Slack, the layout and architecture of Discord are organised by categories, channels, and channel types, and give you the options to hop in and out of any chat with different groups of people. Unlike Slack, they go a bit further with their collaboration features which enable members to enter a huge number of varied channel types (text, voice, video, stage) in seconds. It’s a world where people can collaborate with freedom in an organised manner.
WhatsApp and Telegram
WhatsApp and Telegram are both messaging apps and have a similar architecture to one another but look very different from Discord and Slack. They were built for fast interactions with one or a few other people. This makes them great for smaller groups as smaller groups generally find a way to bond through faster interactions using messaging platforms at a faster rate than in a large server.
WhatsApp and Telegram may not be great for giant communities, but they are definitely great for those who start off with a hundred or so members. It’s recommended to host smaller groups on messaging platforms as they have the right features which enable building and solidifying relationships through fast interaction.
Telegram and WhatsApp are also great for real-life events. For example, music artists who have Discord members (let’s say 56 members) would find WhatsApp incredibly useful for organising IRL Burning Man meetups. But, a group of 56 people who enter a Discord server for Burning Man would have a hard time maintaining their server with a healthy activity rate without having built their relationships on WhatsApp first. This is because WhatsApp is where the initial relationships would have been built and solidified to sustain the type of community activity they'd find of value on Discord.
With all of this in mind, it’s important to remember that messaging apps were built to serve the purpose of helping people connect with individuals or small groups of people at a time, while Discord was intentionally built to host larger groups of people to communicate with freedom in an organised and seamless manner.
So how do you pick?…
Similar to how you wouldn’t want your entire company to be chatting away in one or several WhatsApp chats, you wouldn’t want to keep your family chat inside one big Discord server, because why bother having multiple chat rooms for 7 people? And how on earth would you manage all of your work conversations across different company divisions in WhatsApp?
Imagine having 50,000 members inside a WhatsApp group - unless it was primarily for notifications and/or updates, who wouldn’t just mute the group or leave? How would you pick who to contact directly? In general, it’s much harder to form deep relationships at scale in messaging platforms created for day-to-day usage for large communities than it is on Discord where you have loads of interaction options.
Messaging apps like WhatsApp and Telegram were built to serve the purpose of helping people connect with individuals or small groups of people at a time. Discord was built intentionally to host larger groups of people (originally gamers) to communicate with freedom in an organised and seamless manner.
The key is to focus on what your community needs. Does your community need a space to video call each other regularly? Do they need multiple rooms to do so? Do they only need one chat to stay in touch? Once you figure out and understand your community’s needs then you’ve got the key to help you decide on which platform is best for you.