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Mary Lague12/22/22 6:18 PM5 min read

Using Discord To Drive Engagement and Build a Community

Discord was released in May 2015 as a user-friendly chat service. Although its initial growth was mainly due to video-game players, its use among startups has exploded since 2020, after its slogan changed from "Chat for Gamers" to "Chat for Communities and Friends.” Today, Discord has 150 million monthly users, with 50 million of these in non-gaming-related communities.

Discord’s position as a platform for communities rather than gamers, means its new focus on community building can be utilized by individuals or businesses aiming to build a following and drive engagement. There are no ads (monetization is done through optional paid subscriptions for extra services), and brands can engage directly with customers through a branded server, essentially a community. With Discord, the focus is clearly on high-quality engagement, not virality. 

Creating engagement with customers is vital to your company’s growth. It fosters loyalty, leads to commercial opportunities, and helps you to understand your customer better, making monetization much easier. Discord allows you to create high-quality engagement and makes managing your community simple. It is particularly popular with those born in the mid-1990s and early 2010s, a demographic often referred to as Gen Z, and a key target audience for businesses looking to increase engagement. Many large brands have already begun using Discord and found it incredibly effective at building high-quality engagement within a global fanbase. 

At Pilot44, we have extensive experience helping startups and large corporations create attention-grabbing content and build online communities. We’ve used innovative strategies to drive engagement and help businesses scale. Learn more about us and see how we can help you.

Which Brands Are Using Discord and How?

The Digital World

Perhaps the world’s largest Gen Z influencer, MrBeast, has the most popular Discord server, with 781,000 members. Other Gen Z brands are close behind, with Fortnite and Roblox having 760,000 members each. Mr Beast uses the platform to make important announcements, update fans and give them the chance to take part in competitions. Discord has helped him grow to become the world’s most popular Youtuber (his main channel has 114 million subscribers at the time of writing) and provides a means of direct communication with his fans.

MintMe, a blockchain crowdfunding platform, uses Discord to communicate with customers. They say it's easy to use management functionality and to split topics into different channels, making effective communication with its community much easier than other platforms. Rules for users of the channel (along with the consequences for breaking them) are made clear before you join. The community even created a profitability calculator for traders and made it available to other members of the channel, a great example of Discord's cooperative and engaging nature.

Discord is particularly popular with communities involved in the NFT (non-fungible token) ecosystem, and big companies have taken notice. Samsung has begun expanding how it interacts with fans, creating digital experiences and goods like NFTs. It created its Discord server in June 2022 and gained more than 100,000 members in just 12 hours; the company expected just 10,000. Samsung’s Senior Vice President, Michelle Crossan-Matos, said Samsung is treating Discord  “like a conversation in Times Square and a billboard.” Samsung’s Discord server has two separate rooms, one for gamers and one for NFT fans, making content in each room community-relevant and making it easier for Samsung to drive engagement with key audiences.  

Rather than making Discord an extension of its own social media team, Samsung received help from another company to manage its Discord strategy. This allowed them to focus on what's important to them while knowing their Discord community was in good hands. 

The Physical World

It’s not only in the digital world that companies are adopting Discord to increase engagement. Nowadays, every brand needs a way to engage with its community; Discord is a great solution.

In May 2021, famous clothing company, AllSaints, used Discord to host an event showing how the brand’s design had changed since its inception. The event ended with a Q&A where attendees could ask questions directly to the Director of Menswear, Scott Anderson. Events like these allow fans to have questions answered in real-time on video and allow the brand to directly engage with potential customers. 

Jose Cuervo, the world’s number one Tequila producer, launched a campaign in 2020 at the height of the pandemic called “Who’s Making Margs.” It featured a different celebrity each week making margaritas along with fans at home via video. But unlike other live streams, Jose Cuervo wanted to create a whole community around the shows; they used Discord.

Discord allowed them to use multiple video feeds to create a more intimate feeling while still making the event available worldwide. Live games were played between fans and celebrities to help foster a real-time community spirit, and both had the opportunity to learn a special margarita recipe. Jose Cuervo said  the event was “intimate, ground-breaking, authentic and real" and that "this is a brave new step in real-time marketing.”  

In 2021, Jack in the Box hosted a Comic-Con afterparty on the platform. The fast food company wanted an effective way to engage with and build trust among attendees of the well-known event through a culture-first approach. Discord offered the ideal way to do so. The event included a concert, channels dedicated to the Marvel Cinematic and DC universes, and an NFT auction, all tactics known to drive high-quality customer engagement. The event generated 27,000 messages in total and was a PR coup for Jack in the Box. 

Jack in the Box Chief Marketing Officer, Ryan Ostrom, said “Discord was the perfect platform to host our digital after-party because it allowed us to take a personalized approach in engaging with our communities.”  

Why Should You Use It?

These are just some of the companies that have used Discord to create engagement. There’s a plethora of other examples, including Chipotle, Gucci, and StockX. Discord’s popularity is exploding from blockchain to blogging, and it's unlikely to go away anytime soon. 

The company recently rolled out a feature called stage channels, where a user can simply host an event for a large audience and manage it or delegate management to other trusted community members. This gives community leaders further possibilities for engagement and another avenue to build trust with potential customers.

Nowadays, with the rise of social media, people expect brands to engage with them, whether for product feedback or praise for a member of staff. Engaging with your community and fans is more important than ever and can lead to explosive growth. Rather than relying on capturing attention when people scroll through Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, Discord is giving brands a new and more effective way to engage directly with people who join a community. 


Mary Lague

Mary is the VP of Research at Pilot44 and leads our research and insights group. She brings over a decade of market and consumer research expertise spanning business and product innovation. Known for her strategic insights and forward-thinking approach, Mary is dedicated to guiding brands toward successful innovation and sustainable growth. She is a seasoned advisor in helping global brands spot disruption and a trusted ally in navigating change.