Discord is demonstrating its impact on both mainstream and niche fan bases, teasing new subscription features

Discord is a voice, video, and text messaging community building platform originally geared towards gamers when it was founded in 2015. But today, Discord has made a name for itself in both mainstream and niche internet culture – evidenced by its huge presence, spanning a variety of fandoms, such as Minecraft and virtual avatars, at VidCon 2022.

At VidCon, it became clear that developers with different sized audiences have made Discord an integral part of their community management and fan engagement strategy. One of the events that drew one of the biggest and most passionate crowds this weekend was the Dream SMP panel – a crew of Minecraft players with millions of young fans and large Discord servers with hundreds of thousands of members.

Servers on Discord are essentially chat rooms — sometimes public and sometimes private or invite-only — that are often held together by ritual events, language, community roles, and exclusive access to a creator’s time and attention.

Hannah Rose (aka @hannahxxrose) is a well-known member of the Dream SMP and a Twitch streamer with over 1 million followers who runs a large Discord server with over 82,000 users for her fans. At a Discord-sponsored panel titled “Cultivating Community” at VidCon, Rose joined other developers to discuss the appeal of Discord and how she’s making the most of it.

“I made it maybe 4 or 5 years ago, right when Discord came out. Before that, I didn’t really have a place for people to hang out, talk about my stream, talk about the games we like to play,” Rose said.

Rose mentioned how she hosts karaoke nights with her fans on Discord and invites them to play games together. Other panel creators also mentioned implementing community games on their servers, as well as charity events, talent shows, roasts, niche sub-channels, and exclusive emotes as ways to engage their community.

Panelists also discussed Discord’s new premium subscription feature, which was released to a small test group of 100 creators in December. The subscription service allows developers to protect all or part of a server behind a paywall — initially at price tiers ranging from $2.99 ​​to $199.99 per month.

Many developers have already turned to third-party apps to manage paid access to private Discord servers. Now Discord is hoping to offer something in-suite.

“This was one of the most requested products by developers. Turns out, many of them already were,” said Derek Yang, senior product manager for developers at Discord, in an interview with Passionfruit. “We believe we were able to introduce something that was a lot more first party, more native, easier to use, less friction and just generally more reliable.”

Six months after launching the premium subscription trial group, Yang said Discord learned three things from creator feedback: a desire for deeper membership analytics, free trial options for interested fans, and more special perks for subscribers like premium-only emojis.

A creator at this year’s VidCon, VTuber (Virtual Avatar Creator) Bao the Whale, spoke about her experience as a member of the test group. She said she wanted a low-pressure subscription tier that didn’t require too much work on her plate, and opted for a $4.99 per month plan that would give subscribers some exclusive time to watch movies and play games with her to play. She also has another “joke” tier just a dollar higher called “Bao’s Kittens” that gives fans access to drop recordings of their best “meows” for Bao to rate.

“It can be as professional or as relaxed as you want it to be,” Bao said at the panel. “You don’t have to put so much pressure on yourself to deliver perfect content.”

Jesse Wofford, Discord’s head of creator product marketing, told Passionfruit in an interview that he believes Discord’s ecosystem is trending towards greater fan-creator interaction.

“We’re seeing this paradigm shift in the space where fans of creators are looking for more than just one-way interaction,” said Wofford. “Just having an audience is often not enough. And so many creators find that this community space, a home for fans, is really what drives a lot of fan engagement and fan love.”

A lesser-known piece of news at this year’s VidCon was a new automatic moderation (AutoMod) feature that Discord announced this week. In the past, Discord has faced some trouble for regulating hate speech, harassment, and abuse. Many Discord servers have human moderators to enforce Discord’s community guidelines and server-specific misconduct rules. However, in large channels with hundreds of thousands of followers, it is difficult to pinpoint every rule violation.

Many servers have turned to third-party automated bots to scan and delete messages with inappropriate language. Similar to premium subscriptions, Discord hopes to offer something more effective in the suite.

Traditionally, third party bots have had to scan and delete messages after they’ve been seen. The new AutoMod feature takes place before a message is even sent. Channel moderators can set what words they don’t allow in chat, choose from pre-populated lists of banned words provided by Discord, and offensive messages are automatically removed and reported to the moderators.

“Ultimately, I don’t think moderators want to be cops on the server,” Wofford said. “They are really good at creating culture and running events. So how do we take some of these tasks off the table on a day-to-day basis?”


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*Initial publication: June 25, 2022 at 1:05 pm CDT

https://www.dailydot.com/unclick/vidcon-2022-discord-new-subscription-features/ Discord is demonstrating its impact on both mainstream and niche fan bases, teasing new subscription features

Jaclyn Diaz

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