How to Build an Engaged Community on Discord

Discord is one of the best platforms to build a community on. With a solid community, your projects will get much more traction and a lot more users. How do you go about building a community on Discord?

In January 2020, I released my first Android app, Art Prompts. Around a month later, I coded a Discord bot under the same name, and set up a quick Discord server to go with it.

It’s August 2020 (at the time of writing), and Art Prompts has grown a lot. For the past eight months, I have been working on it pretty much every day, and I’ve learned a ton. However, the most important thing I have learned, if I had to sum up all the lessons from AP, it would be this:

A community is the most important and powerful asset you have.

Why should you care about community building?

Whether you’re running a blog, making a game, drawing a comic book, writing a story, or developing an app, your users are going to go through similar phases;

  1. The person doesn’t know about your project.
  2. They find out about your project.
  3. The person uses/consumes your project (becoming a user).
  4. After enjoying the product, they become a fan of the project.
  5. If they enjoy your other works, the person joins your “inner circle”.

Every step of this process loses a certain percentage of people. You want as many people as possible in the last phase, which is the community. A fan inside the “inner circle” is very dedicated, trusts you, will buy your products, and they will help you improve what can be improved.

Community building is the process of making sure people get to that fifth phase, and that they won’t want to leave.

Why Discord?

Discord is a platform specifically created to host communities. They have a range of features that will help you along the way, such as channels, member roles, bots that can help you with moderation, voice chats, and plenty more.

It is also very easy to invite new members, and keep track of the activity on your server. With the recently added “Server Insights”, you can see how many users and engaging, how many members you have, and access more analytics data.

Undeniably one of the most important features of Discord is the bots. Discord bots can be coded by anyone, and can perform almost anything, ranging from server moderation, to playing music, welcoming new members, or even letting members play games with each other. I’ve written a whole article on Discord bots, so be sure to check that out.

Starting a Discord Server

To start a server, create a Discord account, and simply click the Add a Server button. Choose a name and a server icon (preferably something your fans will recognize easily). Make sure to read the Community Guidelines, as your server will have to abide by those.

Each server is built up from two types of channels – text channels and voice channels. It’s best to categorize your channels, so your server doesn’t become chaotic. For the beginning, I would recommend having a rules channel, announcements channel, an introduction channel, a general chat channel, and a 18+ chat channel. If you’re planning on having bots on your server, have a channel dedicated to bot commands.

There are also plenty of niche-specific channels you should have. For example, an art server should have a channel for showcasing drawings. Obviously, these channels depend on the niche of your server.

Overtime, as your server grows, there will be a need for more and more channels. Don’t be shy to add more, but be sure to properly organize them into Categories. This will help the server stay orderly.

Promoting your server

Once your server is ready to go, your next step is to get the first 100 people on it. Be sure to invite all your existing fans, if you have some. Post about the server on your social media, preferably several times. Mention it as much as possible (without being obnoxious, of course). For now, your main goal is to convert users to server members.

You can put your server on server lists, such as this one. While promoting to fans of your brand/product is much much more effective, a few members might come in from the server.

If you can, incentivize people to join. Often, a place to hang out in is not enough for a person to join. Try to offer exclusive rewards on the server, maybe host giveaways from time to time, or announce important updates on the server a week before you announce them publicly.

Engagement rate

Once you get a few members, your server will still be very dead. People are going to feel awkward, and if you don’t raise the engagement artificially, they will forget the server ever existed and move on.

There are a few things you can do to keep your members engaged. If your server is at its very starting point, try suggesting conversation topics every day. This is make the server look not-so-dead for newcomers.

One of the best events to keep a server alive is community events. Contests, giveaways, challenges, or competitions all help boost your server’s engagement and feel of community. Think about what community events you could do that match the theme and niche of your server.

Remember that running a server is not a one-time thing – you have to nonstop work on keeping it alive and healthy.

Now, let’s look at some more advanced ways to have a healthy community on Discord.

Advanced techniques on Discord

There are some Discord-specific things you can do to keep a healthy community. Discord is generally built to host communities, so there are many features you can turn on or use.

You can create roles for the server. A member can have many roles at once. A role can be used to enable/disable access to certain channels. You can also ping specific roles in messages, and change a role’s permission on the server and in individual channels.

Custom server emotes are images/gifs that can be uploaded by the admin or moderators. These emotes can then be used by members of the server. Emotes are an awesome way to make server memes or popular concepts more official.

Discord recently (mid-2020) announced the new “Community” feature. All servers can now choose to be a community server. This will give you access to a plenty of new features, such as a unique welcoming screen, server analytics, and the option to become a partnered and/or verified server (more on that in a different article).

Once you get a certain amount of members, it might be a good idea to get a moderator. A moderator, or a mod, can keep an eye out for the server, make sure everyone’s following the rules, and sometimes help out with hosting the community events.

Finally, bots. I mentioned before that Discord bots are one of the best features on the platform. Bots can help you with moderation, they can assign people roles automatically, welcome new members, and generally pretty much anything you (or your community) want them to.

Try to look around online for the bot you want. If you can’t find one, you can either code your own (starting guide here), or hire a coder to do it for you. I personally offer bot-coding freelance services over on FiverrĀ®.

Conclusion

Discord is one of the best platforms to build and host your community. Promote your Discord server to your fans and on social media to bring in new members. Offer incentives to join. Remember to keep your server alive with community events. And finally, bring the community together with custom emotes, enabling the Community server feature, and advanced bots.

In future articles, I want to discuss what bots you should add to your server. Sign in to my newsletter to get reminded when that happens! You will also get access to a ton of exclusive resources in the Exclusive Resources Library.

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Of course, I can’t not plug my own Discord server, connected to this blog. Check out the Eledris Blog Discord server, which is a growing community of worldbuilders and other artists!

FAQ

Why is Discord ideal for building an engaged community?

Discord is a platform specifically created to host communities. They have a range of features that will help you along the way, such as channels, member roles, bots that can help you with moderation, voice chats, and plenty more.

How to keep a Discord server alive?

One of the best events to keep a server alive is community events. Contests, giveaways, challenges, or competitions all help boost your server’s engagement and feel of community. Think about what community events you could do that match the theme and niche of your server.

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