This article will help determine if your Twitch community will benefit from a Discord server, and guide you in establishing a network that celebrates the process of live content creation on Twitch or other streaming platforms. We’ll cover if having a Discord community is worth the time and energy for you, the process of how to activate your community to increase your live viewership, how to strengthen the relationship with you and your community during offline hours, and important milestone steps to meet as your community grows.
At some point during their Twitch careers, most streamers will ask the question, “Is having a Discord for my community necessary?”. Most streamers are already struggling enough with configuring their overlays, cultivating relationships with other streamers, and taking the time to edit or design future content. Will working with yet-another platform really help move my streaming career forward, or is it just another item on the endless list of distractions?
Most of the streamers who ask this question fail to understand how Discord fits into their high-level plan for scaling their brand and community. One of the biggest misconceptions is that Twitch can be used for every step of growing your channel, brand, and community. Twitch is only one of many platforms required for success. While Twitch is well-known for engaging and monetizing your active community base, it struggles with content discovery, data collection, and long term retention. Twitch should instead be viewed as a tool to engage and connect with an already-existing community.
The image above categorizes content platforms into 3 primary groups; Discovery, Engagement, and Activation. Content platforms that focus on Discovery are specifically designed to spread new, persistent content that can be viewed later. These platforms are ideal for finding new community members and fans to engage with by inviting them to join another more personalized platform, such as a fansite, email list, or Discord community. It is through this persistent community that you can advertise ways to support and engage directly with the primary content creators by supporting through Patreon or viewing/subscribing on Twitch.
The platforms above can obviously be used for different purposes, but they’re segmented as such because of how their primary business models work. Discovery platforms run on ads and focus on getting you to consume more content. Engagement platforms are more personalized, with content not designed for larger audiences and frequently encourage users to take action. Activation platforms are designed to have monthly or direct recurring payment models that provide an enhanced or personalized version of Engagement content.
With a better understanding of the primary purposes of each platform, you can begin to design your user experience in a way that provides new community members an easy and direct way to participate in and show dedication to the community. Regardless of how your Twitch viewers discover your channel or content, directing them to a centralized community hub will allow them to share their appreciation with others, and go from being an individual fan to being part of a community.
To get the most out of Discord and encourage members to join your stream, spend time with your community before and after each livestream. Before each stream, spend 15 minutes chatting with your active Discord members to ask them about their day or receive feedback about your content. As you begin your stream, post announcements on your social media platforms and use a bot to alert your Discord community that you’ve gone live. Moderators should continue to oversee discussions in your Discord, but encourage members to watch the livestream as it occurs. Bots and scripts can also be used to remind users to join the Discord community if they haven’t already, as well as following on social media for updates and alerts. Finally, as your stream is ending, remind the community that you’ll be available in Discord for a short time to discuss the stream and answer any questions. Some streamers will also include special events for high-ranking members or subscribers, which can help encourage collaboration and active use of the server.
One of the most effective ways to engage directly with your community is to create content with them. This can either be done while livestreaming, or else as a scheduled event that the community can participate in. Events need not necessarily be games, but can also include Q&A sessions or discussions about a topic of interest. Special precautions must be made while playing with viewers as you’re live to prevent “stream sniping”, where community members will attempt to disrupt your stream or game while you’re live. Moderators should take note and be ready to handle disruptions while engaging directly with the community, but most situations can be prevented by assigning restrictions or requirements to be on stream with the host. For example, being a subscriber to the community or requiring participants to apply for a spot if the game has a limited number of participants can help ensure everybody understands and follows the rules.
As you grow your Discord community, members will have different expectations of what your server offers, how it’s managed and what the server is used for. For example, a community with 500 members may not be expected to have a full events calendar, but they would definitely expect that roles have been properly configured so that subscribers appear as a different username color with more permissions and access to restricted channels. Below is a simple checklist for the functionality your server should have:
We hope these guidelines have helped you to determine if creating a Discord server for your Twitch audience is the right fit for you. The most essential thing to keep in mind is that your Discord server is not just an appendix to your Twitch presence. It serves as its own entity and community that needs to be fostered with the same, if not more, personal attention and care in order for it to blossom. With the right mindset and efforts, your Discord community can bolster your Twitch presence and bring your community closer together, for longer.