Discord is rapidly becoming the gamer social media channel. It’s the go-to platform for developers wanting to build a community. And it’s no surprise – players already use it to chat with their friends while playing games. Discord is the perfect space to add more content and engage with people.
But what exactly should your Discord server look like? How do you build that community? How do you keep it vibrant and active? It all comes down to five steps.
Step 1: Get familiar with the types of channel
Okay, you’re raring to go. You’ve signed up, given your server a name, and maybe even uploaded an image to ensure it stands out. Now what?
Well, first of all, you can make two types of servers: a private server or a community server. You’re going to want the latter. This gives you some extra options regarding channel types (and a few other features we’ll explore later).
The five types of channels are:
- Text. This is the default. It’s what you expect.
- Voice. A virtual conference room. You can also stream video and use your camera. Good times.
- Forum. Like a regular forum, people can post topics and keep it all together. These are particularly useful for FAQs and feature requests.
- Announcement. These are where you can post updates, but people can also follow them to post on their own servers.
- Stage. These are a special kind of voice channel for significant events, where you want a few speakers and a big audience. They’re best for those AMAs, fireside chats, or webinars.
The best Discord servers are the ones that use a good mix of these types.
Step 2: Organize your server
Now that you know the difference between the channel types, you must decide what channels you need. And how to organize them. There’s not only one right way to group them, but generally, you’ll want sections like support, internal, general chat, beta testing, announcements, and in-game advice.
Whatever your structure, there are a few specific channels you should include:
- Welcome. A holding channel where newbies can say hello and get to know the community.
- Rules and guidelines. Your second channel should typically have your community rules to ensure everyone is on the same page. Make sure you fill this out before you go live. If you need a starting point, we recommend checking out Discord’s rules. (You’ll need to follow these anyway.)
- General chat. This is typically an off-topic channel for general chit-chat.
- Play together. If your game is multiplayer, having a channel where people can find a squad and team up is useful. It is particularly useful for games with specific roles, like Overwatch or World of Warcraft – where you might be looking for a healer.
- Announcements. You’ll want at least one channel where you can post updates about your game.
- Support. You want a place where people can ask for help. You might want to split this into bug reports and general help or have separate channels for different aspects of your game – like game modes.
- FAQ. This makes a good forum channel. You can have each FAQ as a separate post. The fact that the forum channels have in-build search and tags makes this much easier to use than a regular text channel. As part of your FAQ, consider whether you should include in-game tips and tricks or tutorials.
- Feedback and feature requests. This is another channel which is best as a forum. You can let people post ideas and even tag them. Just make sure you keep an eye on the channel and incorporate the most popular changes (or explain why you’re not going to).
- Beta testing. Getting your community involved in your beta testing is a great way to engage with your players. But you’ll want to have a private channel for those players so they can discuss their feedback with you.
- A community update channel. This is where you’ll get Discord updates relevant to your admins and moderators. (You’ll need this once you’ve turned your server into a community server.)
Those are the main channels that you should definitely include. But it’s worth getting your team together and brainstorming other channels specific to your game. For example, do you have players in lots of regions? Maybe you need to separate those out?
Step 3: Set up your roles
Once you’ve decided on your channels and overall structure, it’s time to think about the roles you’ll have. This should be pretty simple – your typical admin, mods, and general – but you also have an opportunity to create a bit of friendly rivalry or prestige.
For example, if your game has factions – like the Horde and Alliance in World of Warcraft or the houses in Harry Potter – you might consider letting players pick a side. Maybe you even lock certain channels to certain factions so they can plot and scheme against their rivals.
Or maybe you want to uplift particular players. People who are part of your Patron or are content creators might get a special role with a few extra benefits. Maybe they get a special flair they can use or you add them to a monthly prize draw.
Step 4: Convert to a community server
With your basic server set up, it’s time to turn it into a community server. A community server gives you extra functionality (like being able to make those forum channels or getting data insights once you hit 500 members). And – when you’re big enough (10,000 members) – you can even get listed in the public discovery section in Discord.
You can turn your server into a community server by going into the server settings, heading down to community, and clicking on “Enable Community.”
As you go through the process, there are a few channels that Discord makes sure you have. You can either create new channels for these or pick from ones you’ve already created. It’ll also ask you to set default channels that people will see. For now, make sure you don’t hide your channels away.
Create a welcome screen
With your community server set up, it’s time to add a bit of onboarding. If you have a lot of channels and users, it can be a bit overwhelming for newbies. So Discord offers a welcome screen – you pick a few key channels based on common activities and send people straight to those.
This helps get people past that ‘choice paralysis’ that can happen if you just open a new server with a hundred different channels. Just write in your description, pick the top four activities that people might want to do and then link to the relevant channels.
Let people customize their experience
Discord also offers customization options for community servers. Most servers miss this nifty feature, but it’s a really useful way of making sure that people only see the channels they care about. (And join the right roles.)
It’s a simple questionnaire where the results decide which channels you see and the roles you join. It can be a great way to make sure that players in – say – Europe, get added to the Europe channel, rather than the USA channel. In fact, PUBG Mobile uses it really well.
In this example, it’s a pick-as-many-as-you-like situation. Players can choose everything if they want. But if they don’t click, they won’t see those channels. They’ll only be added to the ones they actually care about.
We also particularly like how inclusive PUBG made their server, going so far as to include pronoun preferences as a role.
This is a single-select option. Here, they’ve used it to decide which of these three roles a player wants assigned to them. But you could easily do the same with your game’s factions.
Don’t hide your channels
One mistake that people can make when setting up their server is having too many hidden channels. If you don’t make a channel default, people are unlikely to find it. That’s because most people won’t click the “channels” button at the top of the list and browse all the hidden ones to turn them on. They’ll just accept the status quo.
This is where the questionnaire can be really helpful. If you do find you have loads of channels, either make sure you set them as a default channel or that you’ve at least got a question in your onboarding steps about that channel.
Step 5: Keep engaged
Now you’ve got everything set up, it’s time to actually start building your community. The key here is to make sure you’ve regularly got an excuse to engage with your community. There are a few ways you can do that.
- Run Q&As. Set up a Stage channel and host a fireside chat or something every week. Let players chat with your lead developer and answer questions.
- Host in-game events. Set up a channel and set up a tournament. Do prize draws. Set a daily challenge. Depending on your game, there are plenty of ways to get people playing your game slightly differently.
- Promote content creators and fan artwork. If you start getting YouTubers or Twitch streamers regularly creating content around your game, make sure you set up an announcement channel so people can follow their content. You could even give them special roles. Likewise, if you’re getting a lot of fan art, set up a separate channel to showcase it all.
- Add bots for more fun. We won’t get into all the different bots that you can add to Discord. But there are loads to choose from, including games like Truth or Dare or dice-rolling tools. Maybe you could even set up a role-playing channel?
- Hire a community manager. At this point, with all these activities. You’re going to need someone to be keeping an eye on everything. They’ll need to host these events, gather the feedback to send to the rest of your team, and generally field questions.
Stay in the loop
With that, hopefully, you’ll have a great bedrock on which your community can grow. If you’d like to keep up to date with our own news, sign up for our newsletter and make sure you never miss a blog.