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Why Discord Is The Future of Online Communities + 3 Server-Building Tips | Peter Low the Discord Guru
Learn how to make the most of this powerful platform
Discord is central to everything we do as builders in web3.
Whether you’re creating a generative art NFT project or building the next hot blockchain, a well-thought-out server is key to building a solid community. 🔑
On Monday, we dove into Discord from a user’s perspective, sharing 10 things that everyone on the platform must know.
But today, we’re tackling the platform from the view of builders, creators, and community managers.
The problem we face is that building a killer Discord community isn’t intuitive nor is there a proven playbook for doing it just yet—we’re still experimenting after all! 🤷
That’s why we invited Peter Low, the Discord Guru, to this week’s DOer Spotlight. In this episode, he shares some of his best Discord-building practices that he’s learned from working with JUMP, NFTY Finance, and other web3 communities.
Here’s exactly what we’ll be breaking down:
Why Discord is an excellent community platform ✅
How you should think about designing your Discord 💭
Tips for improving your community server 🚀
Let’s dive in.
Why Bother With Discord Anyway?
The platform has been around for about seven years and during that time, it became known as a place for gaming communities and developers.
But we have so many platforms where we can build our communities, why should we stick with Discord?
While web3’s initial adoption of Discord communities likely came from devs using the platform themselves, Discord’s API is what unlocks the platform’s true power.
In fact, Peter believes that he could build almost any kind of community interaction using Discord, it’s simply up to his client’s imagination! 😲
For example, Peter built an upvote system for the JUMP community where members could upvote attachments, links, and pieces of content with the most popular pieces getting streamed into a channel of top content.
On top of this, the results are then tallied on a leaderboard where you can see your own standing based on the content you share.
The upvote system is simple yet powerful. Not only does it help busy community members get caught up on the latest news, but it also encourages people to share their own content for a chance to reach the top of the leaderboard.
Outside of gamification, you can also token gate access on Discord. 🔒
For example, you can use Discord bots to see the number of tokens that people are holding in their blockchain wallets, and then you can use that information to create roles in the Discord server.
Then, based on those roles, you can create channels, events, and experiences for community members based on their convictions in your project.
Roles are also a great way for your community to flex their status because everyone on the server will be able to see it, just like the JUMP upvote leaderboard.
So as you can see, what you build with Discord is truly up to your imagination as well!
How to Think About Building Your Discord Server
While Discord is a powerful tool, many new community members struggle to get a handle on how it works from a user’s perspective.
Part of this is inevitable because there are just so many things you can do on Discord. But we think the biggest reason for poor UX comes down to poorly built servers.
So how should we think about building a Discord server? 🤔
From a big-picture perspective, Peter believes that it’s all about knowing your target audience. You should know the experiences they enjoy and what they want from the community—for example, do they want curated content like the JUMP community?
Peter is also a fan of reverse engineering what other Discord servers in the same niche are doing.
For example, he’ll simply join different communities and assess their onboarding experience, features, and overall layout of the server. From there, he picks his favorite aspects and tailors them to the community Discord that he’s working on.
Now let’s dive into some concrete tips.
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Tips for Improving Your Discord Community
The bread and butter of every successful Discord revolve around three key areas:
Simple, intuitive onboarding
Hosting valuable events
Keeping the server secure at all times
Here’s how Peter approaches them.
Have a Gradual and Simple Onboarding Sequence
In the grand scheme of things, Discord itself is still a niche platform when you compare it to more familiar social apps, such as Facebook—meaning most people are still unfamiliar with how to use the platform.
And even when they are familiar with it, not every community functions the same. Not to mention that it can sometimes be uncomfortable to start interacting in a new server. 🤐
So when you have a Discord server with 30-odd channels, it’s no surprise that people have no idea where to go or what to do and simply fade away.
We have to remember that it’s not like a Facebook group where the main focus is the newsfeed!
That’s why Peter would never build a Discord server that has more than five accessible channels upon joining—especially if you want to onboard new people into the space.
Next, it’s up to you to build a gradual onboarding process where members slowly unlock new channels based on their interactions with the server. For example, this could be attending a specific call (or a certain number of them), time spent in the community, etc.
But regardless of the specifics of your onboarding process, the aim should always be to educate your members and prepare them to contribute in the channels that they unlock.
It’d simply be a waste of time making them complete tasks if they get nothing out of it!
Now, what that could look like in practice is having two open channels upon joining with one being an introduction channel.
Then once someone introduces themselves, the subsequent channel could be the events information channel explaining how they work and when they happen with more channels opening when they attend an event.
👉 If you want to see a well-built server in action, Peter recommends Furlough, a community for entrepreneurs.
What Does Your Current Onboarding Sequence Look Like?
What onboarding sequence? All my channels are open!
Most channels are gated until a new member introduces themselves.
I have a multi-step onboarding sequence.
🗣️ Let us know by replying to this email or dropping a comment on Substack!
Host Regular Events
While your onboarding sequence is vital for helping people feel comfortable in your Discord, events are what keep them there long-term. In fact, Peter believes that events are a core part of a well-functioning and engaging community.
Events bring people deeper into the community. They help members find new friends and grow their network. They give people a reason to keep coming back week in and week out. And they’re a perfect way for members to contribute to your community. ✅
Here are some events you can host:
Onboarding calls: These are an excellent way to introduce new members to the community and help them feel comfortable inside your server. You can have people introduce themselves (if they’re comfortable) or simply use the call to educate new people on using Discord or another topic.
Mastermind calls (group coaching): Masterminds are great for educating your community and can provide serious value to your members as long as the topics you cover are valuable.
Brainstorming sessions: If you need help deciding on a direction for your project, you can host a call where community members share their thoughts. Alternatively, you can also host these sessions for members!
Recurring town halls: These could be highlighting everything good that happens in the community, such as member achievements and interesting things happening around the community.
Treasure hunts: For treasure hunts, you can hide something, such as a code word, in a piece of content and reward members who are able to find them. You can also embed QR codes or use POAPs to track member progress.
Creating experiences that bring people together is key to a thriving Discord server, but the most important ingredient is that they’re valuable to your community.
Keep Your Server on Lock
What good is building a thriving community only to have it blow up in smoke because of a hack? That’s why security must be a priority when building your DIscord server.
Firstly, you want to go through the server’s roles and permissions in the backend of Discord because every role will have specific permissions that go along with it. You want to make sure that none of your community members have access to dangerous permissions, such as the ability to delete a channel or user.
Next, you want to make sure your team is safe as well. The simplest way to do this is to use strong passwords and activate two-factor authentication, such as Google Authenticator.
While this seems like a simple move, Peter shared that most Discord hacks happen because of compromised team accounts, so make sure you do it!
After you’ve completed the basics, you can look into security bots, such as Wick, which require a bit of a learning curve. 🤖
While they take some effort to deploy, a bot like Wick adds an extra layer of permission authentication to your Discord server. For example, one of Peter’s clients has a Wick bot that will automatically quarantine someone who doesn’t follow the rules, such as posting an unverified link.
You can also find verification bots, language bots, and many others that can automate your server management.
Finally, Peter shared an interesting security strategy that’s equivalent to putting your crypto in cold storage, so if you want to lock your Discord down harder than Alcatraz, make sure to follow his work.
Tweet of the Week
Start With the Basics and Build From There
Although Discord isn’t decentralized, it lives up to web3’s ethos of being open to all. Anyone can start a server and build a community, but it’s up to you to make it great.
And that all starts with the basics.
Make sure you’ve got a simple onboarding process to avoid overloading new members with information but make sure they’re also learning about your community and business along the way.
Keep your community engaged through valuable events.
Help them connect with others in the community. Help them solve the daily problems they face. And most importantly, help them feel comfortable and make them have fun!
Finally, keep your security tight at all times. It’d be bad enough getting your own funds drained through a hack but imagine if that happened to your community members because you didn’t take the right precautions? It’s a no from me! ❌
Then once you’ve got that down, you can start experimenting with features, such as JUMP’s upvoting, token gating, and more.
That’s it for today, frens. See you on Saturday for the Weekly Rollup! 🗞️
P.S. We’ll see you PRO DOers tomorrow, though. We’re breaking down the best tokenomic structure in web3. If you haven’t already, go PRO so you don’t miss it! 👀
🟣 FOR THE DOERS
Catch up on Monday’s Deep Dive: 10 Things I Wish I Knew About Discord.
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