Well, we’re here, we hear you, you want to grow your community, but you don’t know where to start. Communities are the pinnacle of online interaction and socialisation. They bring people together over a certain topic and allow members to meet people who share the same interests to meet with one. With the Covid Pandemic, we were all stuck inside and online communities really stood out during this period. It was a place we could still hang out without flouting restrictions or catching the virus. It was also a great way to expand our social circles from people not just in our local community, but also worldwide. Since that time though, online communities have slowed down a bit as people want to spend more time in person, but they’re here to stay, it might just take a bit of time to get back up to speed.
This guide is made primarily for Discord Servers, but there will be content here that can be applied to all types of online communities such as Subreddits, Facebook Groups, forums, Slacks etc.
Before we can start growing our community, there are a few things we need to consider and put in place before we can start inviting members to our community.
Your community needs to be unique, just like any other business. This comes down to supply and demand. If the supply of a particular type of community is too high, then the demand will decrease.
This is basic business, if something already exists and you cannot make it better, your product isn’t going to fit within the market. This is the same when it comes to communities. I’ve seen this time and time again and it’s what I see in the majority of cases.
You cannot build a general community or gaming server with no real theme.
There are so many of these communities already, why should anyone join yours? You need to have value in your community that outdoes your competition. The best way to do this is to be unique. Maybe create a community around your favourite TV show or a type of dog you like. The possibilities are endless, just make sure that your community hasn’t been done before, or if it has, be sure you can outdo the competition and bring more value to your own members.
If you create a general community or gaming server, there’s no hope for it unless you have a lot of money to promote it heavily. Work smart, not hard and don’t copy others just because everyone is doing it.
Capable Staff Team
Before you go promoting your community, you need to have a good staff team with well-established policies in place to look after the community as you cannot watch it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you start promoting your community and there’s no one to watch over it, then it is likely to be unideal if people break the rules.
Another important component of the staff team is to engage the community. You will want people who can welcome the new members individually and try to create a conversation with them. There’s been a lot of research into ‘lurkers’ and generally, they don’t participate as they don’t know where they fit in or are happy on the sidelines, taking content in. Get your staff to welcome new members, or if you want, set up a bot as well (generally humans like humans better).
Be sure to have a good staff team in place who know what they are doing and are also active. This will help keep the community safe, clean and active.
Great Community Layout/Onboarding
Be sure to have a good layout of your community before commencing advertising. If your community’s design is all over the place, the onboarding experience will be terrible for new members and they’re unlikely to activate (activating means that they engage within the community by either viewing content, or posting messages). Whichever platform you use, be sure to make use of all the user experience features it has.
Discord recently introduced a new onboarding flow for new communities that allows you to ask questions and give roles to community members. Currently, this is only for larger communities but be sure to keep your eyes peeled. You can also take advantage of the native community features that already exist such as making users agree to your rules and onboarding flows.
Make sure as well that you give your members a place to introduce themselves to the community and encourage them to share a bit about themselves so they’re more likely to stay active and feel part of the community.
Last but not least of getting ready, is making sure you have a great advertisement, or in the world of marketing, great copy. This is how you will draw members into your community and get them to join. You need to tell potential members what your community is about and how it runs as well as some of the cool perks/features it offers that make it stand out from the competition.
Here’s a tutorial on how to make a great advertisement:
Overall, you should have a title, a tagline, about you as well as features and a join link. Extra points for having an amazing banner/image to go along with your advertisement.
Now we’re onto how to grow your community. Firstly we’ll look at free growth which doesn’t cost a dime, and then we’ll move into paid growth which will grow your community faster and requires less work.
Listing sites are personally my favourite way to grow communities. They’re 100% organic and keyword specific so members are joining because they’ve searched for it.
Listing sites are what I like to call the search engines of Discord. Instead of using Google to find a website, we use a listing site to find a community. Communities of all shapes and sizes are listed on these websites in order for new members to find them. It’s vital that you set up your community on as many different lists as possible to have the maximum reach. Here’s a list:
Once you’ve started setting up your listings, you need to sure that you take advantage of the description boxes as well as tags and keywords. This will help you stand out at the top of the search results and give you an edge over the competition. Make sure you take advantage of all the keywords you can use, but be sure to use the ones that are specific to your community.
Here’s a video on our favourite listing sites:
Be sure as well to not forget that a lot of these sites use a bumping or upvoting system. The purpose of this is to ensure that your server is active. By bumping (to bump you basically run a bot command or go to a listing site’s dashboard and click a button) you’re telling the site that your community is active as you’re going to the effort to bump it, and in return, you should show higher on the search rankings when users search for your community.
Your server needs to be found by potential members on the net. With our search listing optimisation, when users search for your server it'll come out on top.
DGE members will update your listings and add you to listing sites as well as fix up the SEO Optimisation of those to make you appear near the top of the search/listing results.
Social media is a great way to expand your reach beyond Discord and find new community members on different platforms. Simply setup a Twitter, Instagram and maybe a TikTok and YouTube account as well. Post content that is relevant to your field and be sure to post regularly on all the different platforms you choose to use.
Hashtags as well will help you with finding the right audience. Simply find a good hashtag tool, enter your keywords and it will spit out a few different keywords you can use in your post. Be sure as well to link your community and social channels together as well, we’ve made a free online course which you can check out here:
Make sure as well to interact with your social following, comment on their posts, like their content, make them feel special and that you’re a human and not just a corporation or business.
Networking is a great way to find fellow members who may be interested in hanging out and joining your community. You can meet so many new and awesome people through networking that you otherwise would have never known about, and you can introduce them to your community and vice-versa.
Networking is especially powerful on platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn if you’re in a community of practice (one that focuses on a particular profession or professional area of work, such as a specific type of marketing for example).
You also may find that joining communities similar to yours can help, but we’ll focus on that in partnerships which is the next point. If you find a Subreddit, feel free to hit up the mods and ask if you can share your community, generally they’re happy to assist.
Partnerships are a great way to grow communities themselves, they don’t work too well when there is a corporation behind the community.
Partnerships come in many different shapes and sizes on Discord, but generally, they’re about sharing your advertisement with similar communities and cross-posting them. But they can be so much more than that, you could host giveaways together, and collab events such as a big movie night or competition in order to bring the two communities together and both gain new members.
Here’s a tutorial on how to set up a partnership program:
Finally, and what we specialise in, advertising in advertising spaces is a great way to find new members who might be browsing the channels to find a community that excites their interests. Simply join a community like Advertise Your Server and find a channel to promote in, and post your ad. Remember to be consistent when advertising and do it as much as you can, regularly, in order to see real growth.
Don’t forget that if you meet Discord’s Server Discovery requirements, you should definitely enable it so members can find your community via Discord’s Discovery tool located at the bottom of the server list.
Now we’re looking at paid growth and how it will help grow a community faster by being able to reach more members in the first place. Don’t worry if you can’t afford it though, the free methods work well if you have a good community idea behind it.
Organic vs Not
When purchasing paid growth, we need to be careful if we’re buying organic or non-organic results. Organic means that members freely choose to join your community.
Here’s a guide we made on organic growth:
A great service you can buy is advertising services which are essentially where your promotion is done for you. Here are some different services you might come across:
- A lot of listing sites offer a premium version of themselves with increased ranking and higher visibility for members looking for a community to join. A lot of the sites will include features such as auto bumping and additional colours and imagery to make your community stand out further. A definite buy.
- Advertising plans are a great way to get your server advertised in many different places for you. They consist of you sharing your ad with the service and then each week your advertisement is posted a number of times in a range of different communities.
- As we spoke about partnerships before, sometimes you may need a lot but just don’t have the time to do it. Partnership plans help by taking care of the partnerships for you. We’ll work with you to craft partnership guidelines and we’ll make sure to partner with communities that are similar to yours.
- Fiverr services are another way to get a lot of members quickly, though do be careful as a lot of the sellers are not very reputable and there can be services in there that are not organic and/or break the Discord ToS such as Mass DM Advertising.
Now we’re moving onto the growth-based services which are more hands-off and get you set up to grow yourself.
- Listing optimisation is where your Discord Community gets listed on a range of different sites for you, instead of you having to list them yourselves. They’ll also ensure that you have the best keywords and phrasing as well as imagery in place to attract members to your community.
- CPM aka Cost Per Million Impressions is essentially Google Ads but for Discord Servers. There is one main site that supports CPM bidding which is top.gg which allows you to bid on a range of tags to be at the top of their list in the promoted spot which can give you some serious growth.
- This also includes platforms such as TikTok, Google and Instagram Ads, wherever your audience is located on. We talk about this in our free online course:
- Don’t forget as well to level up your own knowledge or skill as well as get some ideas for your community. Consulting is a great way to get some actionable advice tailored to your specific circumstances where you can focus on what will work for you and implement proven tips to help grow your community and make it easier to use.
- Courses and e-learning are also very powerful in levelling up your own knowledge of marketing and community building. Here are some of our favourite courses:
Analytics/Data to your advantage
Now that you’re growing, it’s important to look at statistics and data that you get from your members so you know how to improve. Here are some of our favourite statistic tools:
Reviewing Growth Methods/Continuously Experimenting
In the world of marketing, it’s always important to keep experimenting to see what works for you and your community/business. The digital marketing space is always evolving and it’s important to be ahead of the game and competition.
If you’ve made it this far, congratulations, you’ve made it to the end of our growth guide for 2023. This isn’t a comprehensive guide and there’s so much more I want to include, but then it would be too long of a blog post. Remember to keep working in your community and don’t give up. Continually try new things and keep learning new things. Best of luck with your community!
P.S. Want us to grow your community for you? Hit us up: email@example.com