Why Discord Matters to Advertisers

Why Discord Matters to Advertisers

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Discord is a free voice, video, and text chat app that’s used by people aged 13 and up to chat and essentially hang out. Initially launched in 2015 as a home for gamers, the app has since expanded its reach and now attracts users from gaming and non-gaming communities alike. To say it’s popular is something of an understatement: the app enjoys more than 150 million monthly active users as of July 2021. But it accepts no advertising.

Why should advertisers care about Discord? Read on to learn more.

What Is Discord?

Users have embraced Discord as a way to connect with friends on a daily basis. Available for Mac, PC, iPhone, and Android devices, the app facilitates talk around any number of topics, from homework to mental health to travel.

Discord is mostly used by small and active communities who like to connect regularly, and for these groups the app follows an invite-only protocol. But larger, more open communities also flourish on Discord; these larger communities can be public, and tend to focus on specific topics like gaming, the app’s original mandate. Minecraft, for example, draws a large following.

As Discord puts it, shared interests drive the conversation.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, an entire vocabulary exists to help users navigate the app: “servers” are the spaces created by communities or friend groups (as Business Insider describes it, servers are a less-formal version of the Slack app). Any user can initiate a new, free server, and invite their friends; individual servers promote their own topics and rules. Discord servers are subsequently organized into text and voice “channels,” which are typically devoted to specific topics. Users can post (type) messages on text channels; they can also upload files and share images. Voice channels allow users to communicate real-time through a voice or video call.

There are literally thousands of Discord servers, so whether your jam is cute cats or a game like Fortnite, a Discord server that reflects your interests probably already exists.

Why Discord Matters to Businesses

But there’s no advertising. So, why should businesses care?

In a word: presence. Even though Discord is an ad-free platform, brands can and do maintain a presence there. Think of Discord as a social-listening tool. As reported in Marketing Dive, Discord is a source for learning about emerging culture and trends. By following Discord, brands can figure out fresh was to become culturally relevant with their marketing.

What does that look like, exactly? Essentially, brands can create their own branded communities on Discord, places where they can interact head-on with their most loyal customers. These communities are a zone where brands and consumers connect over common interests — and there might be a perk or surprise in there for the customer, to boot.

Virtual events are popular on the app: consider the Q&A fashion retailer AllSaints hosted in May, in which the menswear designer gave users a peek into how its styles have changed over the years. Chipotle took a different tack, hosting a virtual job fair on Discord that allowed the fast-casual restaurant chain to announce a hike in wages (to $15 an hour), and gave current employees an opportunity to talk about benefits and career paths.

Of course, for some brands, the app’s gaming roots are a rich vein to mine. Consider teen retailer Hot Topic, which initiated a Discord server specifically targeting fans of Japanese anime. Hot Topic relies on its own presence to support anime fandom, which overlaps with Hot Topic’s own audience.

What Brands Should Do

What does all this mean for your brand? We recommend that you:

  • Keep in mind Discord’s audience. Are they your audience? In other words, does Discord promote a niche that represents common ground for your brand and a community of Discord users?
  • Do your homework and learn from how other brands are succeeding on Discord. Discord users seem to respond to authentic conversations and events on the app. How can you capitalize on this? Keep in mind the Hot Topic example: the retailer tapped into a theme already established as part of the Hot Topic brand — then ran with it. They didn’t pretend to be something they’re not or try to shoehorn themselves into a conversation that didn’t make sense.
  • Listen and watch closely for ideas to inform your advertising beyond Discord. What can you learn from the ways Discord connects with its audience?

Contact True Interactive

Interested in exploring Discord—or another chat app? Contact us. We can help you stake your claim.