In the last year, millions of people experienced the transition from office work to remote work. There are many upsides to working from home, but it takes some getting used to, especially where communication is concerned. If you’re used to chatting with your colleagues, remote work can leave you feeling disconnected.
Fortunately, there are tools to help solve that problem. We’ve all heard about Zoom’s meteoric rise, but it isn’t the only voice and video communication platform that surged in popularity in 2021. Discord also saw a huge influx of users, and in this article, we’re going to explore some of the ways organizations are using Discord for business communications and community building.
What is Discord?
Discord is an instant messaging and voice chat service. It is a web-based platform that provides a wide variety of communication options, including group and direct text chat channels, voice and video chat, and screen sharing.
Discord’s instant messaging features are similar to Slack’s, but its unique spin on voice and video is the main attraction. In contrast to Zoom meetings or Skype calls, Discord voice channels are persistent; they behave like instant chat channels, but for voice rather than text. Users can drop in and out at will, providing a more relaxed and spontaneous experience than standard online meetings.
For example, the members of a remote team might join a Discord voice channel and leave it running in the background while they work, participating in conversations and responding to co-workers’ questions. The combination of text, voice, and video chat with screen sharing makes Discord a powerful tool for business communication and collaboration.
Discord was launched in 2015 as a Voice over IP (VoIP) platform for gamers, who would join audio chat channels to socialize and coordinate strategies while playing multiplayer games. It soon became popular beyond the gaming and esports world as software projects, businesses, and communities embraced the platform as a free alternative to Slack and a more modern alternative to the venerable Internet Relay Chat (IRC).
If you’d like to see Discord in action, feel free to join the cPanel Discord server, where you can chat with members of the cPanel team and our community of partners and users.
What is a Discord Server?
The server is Discord’s top level of organization. Discord servers are similar to Slack workspaces. They are not servers in the traditional sense, but collections of channels administrators can independently configure with topics, integrations, privacy settings, and moderation preferences. Servers can be public or private, and users can launch multiple servers.
How Companies Use Discord for Business
Although Discord started as a gamer-focused platform—much like Twitch—it has since focused on general-purpose communication and collaboration. Businesses who want to keep their newly remote teams talking were happy to find a platform that encourages the informal interactions that fuel office-based productivity.
Discord for Teamwork
Discord’s private servers are ideal for a range of internal communications, especially for remote teams. The platform’s persistent audio channels and video streaming features work well for casual chats, formal and informal meetings, webinars, and mentoring.
In addition to the many benefits of public and private instant chat messaging, Discord removes much of the friction and organizational overhead of other voice and video platforms. Workers don’t have to coordinate schedules or add meetings to their calendar; they can just drop into a channel and start talking.
Discord channels are also flexible; while they can be long-lasting, it’s just as easy to create temporary channels to bring together a specific group of people to discuss a topic or project. The platform incorporates privacy and moderation tools that allow organizations to limit channel membership, so it’s easy for managers and employees to create working groups that include only relevant team members.
If the idea of an always-on microphone and the ever-present risk of interruption doesn’t appeal to you, you’ll be happy to hear that you have complete control over your audio and video. It’s straightforward to join and leave conversations, mute your microphone, and mute incoming audio.
Discord for Building a Community
Discord was originally created as a platform for building communities around games and common interests, so it has many features that make it effective at bringing customers, clients, and users together to talk to team members and each other.
We’ve already talked about Discord’s text, voice, and video messaging features, so in this section, we’ll focus on features that are useful to businesses that want to build a community on Discord.
- Server invites: Discord servers are invite-only, but it’s straightforward to generate invite links to share on social media or your website.
- Moderation: Server administrators can limit membership to Discord users with verified emails or phone numbers, as well as giving trusted users moderation tools that allow them to delete messages and ban or suspend users. The platform includes configurable content filters to remove unsafe content from channels.
- Welcome screens: Welcome screens are displayed to new users when they join a server. They can show brand information, guidance, and links to channels that communicate the server’s rules.
- Community server configuration: Discord can automatically configure community servers, including turning on safety checks, creating rules and updates channels, and configuring notifications so that community members aren’t overwhelmed by unnecessary information.
In addition to the built-in community-building features, you can augment servers with Discord bots. Bots are third-party programs added to channels to provide features such as automatic moderation, announcements, and custom commands.
Discord is an incredibly popular platform with over 250 million registered users and nearly 7 million active servers. But, depending on the needs of your business, you might prefer one of these alternatives:
- Slack needs no introduction. It’s the most widely used instant messaging platform for businesses. Slack and Discord have many of the same features, but they handle voice communication differently. Slack provides more of a traditional “conference call” experience that some companies prefer to Discord’s voice channels.
- Microsoft Teams is the Redmond giant’s entry in the business messaging category. It offers many of the features we’ve discussed in this article, including voice calls. Teams may be a better option than Discord if your company is a heavy user of Microsoft’s productivity and cloud services because it provides superior integration.
- Telegram is a free messaging service that includes group text, voice, and video chat, as well as file sharing.
As more people work remotely, the number of organizations using Discord for business increases. In the first four months of 2020, the platform experienced a 50 percent growth in voice chat users. Discord isn’t right for every business, but it might be right for yours if its laid-back approach to voice chat fits how your team likes to work. As always, if you have any feedback or comments, please let us know. We are here to help in the best ways we can. You’ll find us on Discord, the cPanel forums, and Reddit. Be sure to also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.