Discord Marketing: How to Create an Engaged Gen Z Community

Discord marketing offers brands the chance to form strong bonds with their audience, foster retention and get valuable insights. So, how do you get it right?
Fanbytes | Discord Marketing

In 30 seconds:

  • What is Discord, and how do you use it? We have some simple steps to get you started.
  • Gen Z wants to feel like they belong. We’re taking you through why creating safe communities is the best way to get them on board.
  • How do you use Discord to market your business? We’ve got some tips and tricks to get your community buzzing.

Millions of young people are part of thriving online communities. So, where can your brand go to tap into these circles? Enter Discord marketing.

Discord is the go-to place for online groups with shared interests. It currently has 150 million monthly active users and this number continues to grow. Why is it becoming so popular? 

Discord is a chat platform that brings together people from all over the world. It creates safe spaces for people to discuss their passions and even gives them the chance to create online events. Gen Z is particularly drawn to the chat app, making it a great space to interact with this target audience.

Discord is known for being niched towards the gaming industry. Originally it was predominantly used by gamers to chat whilst playing (these groups are still booming, by the way). But now it’s so much more. People create all kinds of communities on Discord, and it’s time for you to get involved. So fasten your seatbelts because we’ve mapped out the best route for your brand to win on Discord (and it doesn’t necessarily involve gaming consoles). 

What is Discord?

Despite being dubbed a “social media channel” on Wikipedia, Discord operates very differently than normal “feed” socials. The company defines itself as a “communication platform”. 

It all started when two friends, Stan Vishnevskiy and Jason Citron, wanted to talk about gaming but couldn’t find the right platform to do it on. So they created it.

Like Slack or Skype, Discord is a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) and instant messaging platform. Users can communicate using voice, video, messaging, media and files through communities they call “servers”. To expand from its known affiliation with the gaming community, Discord had a rebrand.

Discord’s chief marketer Tesa Argones stated “There’s no feed and there’s no ‘likes’. And there’s no algorithms because there’s no advertising. We’re not serving you ads. It definitely feels a little bit more intimate. 

“Sometimes we talk about Twitch feeling like you’re attending a concert at a very large venue with hundreds of thousands of people. And Discord feels like a living room set – we have an acoustic set with a few of your close friends. You feel more connected.”

Connection is what clicks. And that’s why Discord has rebranded itself. 

Discord changed its motto from “Chat for Gamers” to “Chat for Communities and Friends”. Discord is becoming more known as a place for all kinds of communities – and community members. Think book clubs, student groups, comedy buffs, food enthusiasts, music fans… you name it; Discord has a community around it. This opportunity for connection draws in the most influential generation. So why is Discord such a winner with Gen Z?

Gen Z craves community

Gen Z may be the loneliest generation yet. A majority of Gen Zers report they felt lonely at least once or twice a month during their childhood. In contrast, only about one in four Baby Boomers say they felt lonely this often as children. Zoomers have grown up in a time of isolation, with the pandemic being a highly impactful era of their lives. Craving connection, these digital natives moved online to find their cliques. 

65% of Gen Z feel more confident online with community-focused social apps. While most social media platforms allow connection, Discord differs through allowing users to create active communities

Gen Z wants to belong. In fact, 70% of Zoomers joined a community for a feeling of ‘belonging’. It’s clear this generation wants to bond over shared attributes. They don’t want to just click “like” on posts anymore. They want to feel heard and understood. 

We’ve seen this first hand. Gaming browser Opera GX came to us to promote their product to 13-25-year-olds on TikTok, where we created an influencer-lead campaign that didn’t just deliver – it taught us more about the demographic. 

We went over and beyond our targets, delivering 1.5M views and driving over 13.8K clicks to the Opera GX website. What made it so interesting was the community building that followed. During the campaign, Gen Z users frequently commented with their own glowing reviews of Opera GX, helping boost social proof, and they also started to tag their friends. The comment section of the videos became its little community, with users beginning conversations about the brand and looping others in to watch the content and engage with their discussion. It’s clear that Gen Z wants interactivity and to feel heard, and brands need to play their part in that.

62% of Gen Zers and millennials believe brands have the power to create communities based on shared interests and passions. So it’s up to companies to provide safe, loyal and understanding communities for their followers. How do you do that? It’s time to jump into the world of Discord and everything it can provide.

In this article, we’re taking you through (1) how to use Discord, and (2) how to market your brand on Discord. If you’re already familiar with the channel, you may want to scroll down a little further. However, if you’re a Discord newbie, you’ll want to read this section first.

How to use Discord

Discord is a channel that you can access on both your computer and smartphone. It’s available as an app on your phone or for Windows. Alternatively, you can access it via your standard web browser. 

Once you’ve either downloaded the application or accessed it via your browser, you can then sign up (if you haven’t already). After you’ve created a username and password, you’ll be able to start creating communities called servers.

Creating a server

Servers are how you can begin building a community on Discord. So, how do you create a server on Discord? Here are some simple steps.

Step 1 – When you log into Discord, you will see a green plus sign on the left-hand side of the page. Click this to create a server.

Step 2 – A menu will appear where you can choose from automatic server templates (these are based on servers that already work in that niche) or you can create your own.

Step 3 – Choose whether this server will just be for friends or whether it will be for a wider community.

Step 4 – You can name your server and upload an image if you wish.

Step 5 – When you click “create”, your new server will appear with text and voice channels.

How to use Text and Voice Channels

A Discord server is made up of text channels where members of the server can type messages to the group and voice channels where members of the server can speak via audio. 

You can create multiple text and voice channels within your server. So, for example, if you want a channel where members can introduce themselves, you can create a #introductions text channel. If your brand wanted to talk about a specific product, you could create a text channel. If you were hosting an event, you could create a voice channel

Simply click the plus sign next to “text channels” or “voice channels”, and you will be able to create a new channel. 

How to customise your server

You can customise your server in various ways via your server settings. 

Under “server”, select settings, and you will see the following options:

  • Overview – where you can change your “system messages” and toggle specific settings on and off, such as “send a random welcome message when someone joins the server”. 
  • Roles – where you can change who does what with the server. Here you can make users admin and give people certain permissions. 
  • Emoji – where you can add custom emojis for all server members to use.
  • Stickers – Where you can access stickers from “boosts”. When you boost a server, you can gain more perks like stickers. More on boosts later.
  • Integrations – where you can manage integrations with third-party apps like Webhooks, Twitch and Youtube.
  • Widget – where you can customise a widget to embed within your website for people to find your Discord server.
  • Server Template – where you can turn your server set up into a server template for other users to use.
  • Custom Invite Link – where you can create a custom invite link for your server (only available once your server hits level 3). 

For more information on how to customise your server and channels, take a look at Discord’s Beginners guide here.

Plans and Boosts

Discord has several plans on the platform. The basic is free, but brands and individuals can pay for Nitro or Nitro Classic to get additional perks. Here’s the rundown:

  • Server Boosts

You can pay for server “boosts” to unlock more emoji slots, animated server coins and other features. Members within the community can also boost the server, so treat them well. The more engaged and active the members are, the more they will want to boost the server.

  • Discord Free

Within the free plan, you can join up to 100 servers. It allows you to screen share in 30 FPS (low video quality). You can access video chat and voice chat as well as private servers and public servers. Within the free version, you also have access to Discord Bots for your servers (AI that can keep an eye on things and automate messages).

  • Discord Nitro Classic ($4.99pm)

Nitro Classic gives you more customisation options for profiles (animated avatar, custom tag, and Nitro Badge) plus 30% off server boosts. You can also create a custom emoji to use outside your original server. Screen sharing is also better with 60 FPS quality.

  • Discord Nitro ($9.99pm)

Nitro allows its users to have multiple profiles (meaning you can make professional and personal profiles separate), join up to 200 other servers and get personalised backgrounds for videos. You would also receive some unique stickers and emojis. This plan gives you two free server boosts and allows larger uploads (up to 100MB). You get better quality streaming and a larger max character count for posts (up to 4000 words).

How do you use Discord to market your business?

Is Discord good for marketing? The resounding answer is yes. But not as you might think: paid ads, for one, aren’t an option here. The approach to marketing on Discord is markedly different. 

Because Discord is so community-driven, it is the ideal platform to get really understanding your customers. Everyone present has already actively decided to be part of a brand’s server. Users here want to interact with you because they want a sense of community with your brand. It’s a perfect place to foster retention and build stronger relationships. Not to simply throw promotions around willy-nilly.

Gen Z is the most ad-averse generation yet. Building a community around your brand that is understanding of this is essential. So what are the top tips for creating a Gen Z community, and how can you ensure you’re marketing on Discord correctly?

1. Drum up engagement

According to Meta research, 41% of Gen Zers said when brands post content that makes them feel like part of the brand’s community, they feel more personally connected. Discord is the ideal place to do this. 

Making your target audience feel a sense of belonging is the number one goal, so focus on an authentic content marketing style to win them over. How do you do this? Humanise your posts and promote open conversations to encourage people to engage. 

All Saints have a Discord that pushes for engagement at the get-go. When you click on their community, the Welcome sign pops up, motivating new members to introduce themselves on the #introductions channel. 

AllSaints Discord welcome

They also have a text channel called #allsaintsfits where users can share their AllSaints outfits. Notice they even use “fits” as slang which is popular among Gen Zers. Encouraging their members to engage in this way allows for an active, thriving community. It’s the perfect way to market your brand whilst nurturing your customer’s thoughts, feelings and opinions.

2. Listen

Brands can pay fortunes to run consumer research and understand their potential customers better. With Discord, you have all this at your fingertips. 41% of Gen Z consumers say they would buy from a brand that delivers timely, responsive customer service over a competitor. Discord gives you the inside track to do this. With a direct link to your consumers, you have the opportunity to find out what really makes them tick. 

Sephora Discord channel

Sephora has honed this through numerous discussion Discord channels. They have one for #makeup questions where users can pose their questions about all things beauty. This allows the brand to get an insight into what members are looking for whilst providing valuable information to their followers. 

Listening to your customers will help you create the right marketing campaigns, deliver relevant content and ensure you’re taking the best steps forward.

3. Host Events

Discord is the perfect platform to create events that will engage a core community, rewarding loyal customers with layered marketing services

More than half of young consumers say they have attended a livestream event at home and want to attend virtual events in the next six months. Gen Z loves virtual interaction. What better way to do that than with a live event on the platform? Because Discord is where engaged communities gather, it’s the perfect place to host events and build better relationships with your followers. 

The channel allows you to create an event in your selected channel on your server. How do you do this? Here are the steps:

  • Step 1 – Open the server menu (the little arrow next to your server’s name)
  • Step 2 – Select “Create Event”. 
  • Step 3 – Choose the channel you wish to host the event on. It will give you the option of a voice channel or other kind of channel like text. 
  • Step 4 – Add a topic, start date/time and description of the event.
  • Step 5 – If you’re happy everything is correct, select “Create Event”.
  • Step 6 – Discord will issue an event link that you can copy and share to other channels. 

NARS Discord channel

NARS have an active Discord community that is linked to Roblox. Just 14% of Roblox users are over 25, meaning it’s the place to be for young people. NARS have tapped into this by creating a game on Roblox called NARS Colour Quest. On their Discord server, they host regular events for this game.

But it’s not just gaming software that brands are creating events from. Discord has many options for live events, like karaoke on voice channels, trivia on text channels and competitions where users need to submit something. 

Taco Bell Discord channel

Just look at Taco Bell’s server. They have numerous engaging channels for their members, including a Taco Trivia text channel.

Creating an engaging community is all about fun with Gen Z. Get creative and think about what your consumers would like to see. 

4. Boost User-Generated Content

UGC is undeniably powerful among young people. 35% of Gen Z believes that in the next 3-5 years than content created by a company or independent source. So tell your consumers what to do and ensure they are shouting about your brand. 

New Era Caps have an active community on Discord with a channel where users can share their collection of New Era products. They actively encourage members to post pictures of their items which engages the community. This UGC-based interaction also promotes products to other users within the community. 

5. Post regular promotions

Keeping your community informed is crucial. Putting up regular info on promotions, deals and sales will keep your community active and looking out for the next thing. 

Gucci Discord channel

Gucci has been looking to the future. They created GUCCI VAULT, a space “envisioned by Alessandro Michele, explores vintage styles, hand-picked brands and goes into the metaverse.” Naturally, they created a Discord community to go with it, and have been posting regular updates on the server for their followers to stay up to date. 

This is also where they share their announcements on SUPERGUCCI (their NFT collaboration with SuperPlastic).

Influencers and Discord

Influencers are all about community. A lot of creators, especially gaming influencers, are on Discord chatting with their community regularly. It’s a platform that allows them to be more personal with their audience and get to know them better. 

Brands need to take note of this. If you’re looking for authentic, close connections, marketing your brand through influencers on Discord may be the way forward. It’s a more trusting space as there aren’t any “off-putting” promotions or irritating “skip ad” buttons. It feels genuine, so all kinds of creators are flocking there. 

There are tons of influencer collaborations to be had with Discord. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Leverage influencers who are already building communities on Discord to help kick-start your own, targeted Discord community.
  • Build hype with influencers with Discord communities to accelerate your growth and drum up interest in new drops or events.
  • Ask influencers on other platforms with a similar niche to encourage their followers to check out your server and chat with them there. TikTok influencers are a perfect fit for this because the app also fosters a community mindset.
  • Spoke interest in your brand via humorous TikTok influencers and encourage followers to join the discussion in your Discord chat. Consider how you’ll maximise the interactive element: how will you respond to feedback in a way they’ll love? Some of the best community building comes through swift, comedic responses and great memes alone.
  • Promote your Discord server through aspirational TikTok influencers as a way to find out first about your brand’s new releases, or sales, deals and giveaways. Just make sure you’re offering something that’s tailored, so your Discord community feels connected to you.
  • Collaborate with key TikTok influencers in your niche on a product offering, then market through influencers to let fans of your brand know that they, too, can interact with your brand and inform your designs via Discord.

Bringing influencers into your Discord marketing strategy will encourage their followers to flock to you too. We’d love to talk with you about the kinds of influencers your brand should work with, where they hang out, and how you can use them to level up your social media marketing. Your brand’s community will be more active than ever. 

Open, honest communication

So we’ve been through how you can use Discord for your brand and why it’s so important for Gen Z. What now? Keeping an open line of communication with your community is essential. We believe the same here: as the access point between brands and influencers, we’re all about keeping the channels clear and making sure everyone wins. 

At Fanbytes by Brainlabs, we strive for an honest and straightforward chat with our brand partners. We want to know what you’re looking for, so we can talk you through how we can get you there. We know about Gen Z communities and what gets them talking, so get in touch to find out how we can help you take your brand to the next level.

Gaming marketing… digital marketing… even crypto. We’re in the know. Take a look at some of our stellar insights into the digital world of Gen Z below:

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