Companies are looking for innovative ways to adapt to changes in work and consumer culture in the wake of the COVID 19 pandemic and the increase of Gen Z’s purchasing power. The pandemic caused a shift to remote work, while Gen Z and younger millennials look for more meaning and engagement, both at work and in their purchasing decisions.
This unique set of challenges may have a solution in the most unexpected places; a gaming chat app called Discord.
Although long considered a hang-out spot for geeks and gamers, Discord is working tirelessly to change its image. In 2020, the company rebranded to “your place to talk,” positioning itself as a resource for communities of all types.
The changes are working. Discord has more than 100 million monthly active users and 26 billion minutes of conversation across 13.5 million active servers every week. In 2021, CNBC reported that 70% of Discord users use the app for non-gaming purposes in addition to gaming, a drastic increase from the 30% who said the same just one year earlier.
The Future of Work, The Future of Buying
The Covid 19 Pandemic accelerated the shift to remote work. According to a study by Global Workplace Analytics, 97% of North American office workers worked from home at least one day per week due to Covid 19, compared to 67% that did not work remotely regularly before the pandemic.
Further studies show that Americans want to keep working remoting. A study by Colliers showed that 71% of employees who shifted to some remote work during the pandemic wish to continue working remotely at least one day per week after the pandemic is over.
Although the youngest generation, Gen Z, is the most likely to want to return to the office, a majority of this cohort, 63%, has a positive view on working from home, according to a Hubble Study.
Even if this generation isn’t thrilled about the prospect of working remotely full time, they still expect different things from the workplace than previous generations.
Career expert Amanda Kay of My Life I Guess explains that Gen Z workers want automation and technology in the workforce and crave engagement. She goes on to say, “Younger generations want jobs that are flexible, automated, and embrace technology. If you want to recruit and retain Gen Z, you need to show them that your company can keep up.”
This shift in cultural attitudes is apparent outside of the workplace as well, in the purchasing habits of younger generations. According to a study by Survey Monkey, 32% of Gen Z says that brand authenticity plays a vital role in purchasing decisions, compared to 24% of respondents across all generations.
This same study showed that 61% of Gen Z interacts with brands on social media, compared with 34% across all generations. Of the respondents who followed brands on social media, 43% said they are more likely to buy the products of the brands they follow.
Discord’s Adaptability Provides A Solution to Both These Problems
Although Zoom quickly became the star of the Covid-19 pandemic, with its usage exploding by over 3000% in the last quarter of 2020 compared to the same quarter the previous year, it’s strictly a video conferencing service. It lacks the full functionality that companies need in a remote environment.
Discord offers brands a solution to both the shift to remote work and changes in cultural attitudes towards brands and social media. The platform provides chat messaging, video conferencing, screen sharing, and bot integrations to suit nearly any need. Businesses turn to Discord for various functions, including internal communications, to engage with their customers and build a community online.
Job search platform Lensa, an early adaptor of the platform for business use, has used Discord for internal communications since 2019. Gergo Vari, CEO of Lensa, said that the company has separate voice chats for each team and likes Discord because they can easily integrate their Trello and Github projects into Discord using bots. The ability to see everything on one application helps employees stay focused.
Co.Lab, a tech start-up that provides specialized training programs in the tech space, began using Discord in 2021. They manage two Discord servers, one for internal communications and another to facilitate training with their customers.
Helen Huang, the company’s co-founder, explained how Co.Lab uses Discord. “We manage two servers: one for internal comms and one for external customers. Our students actually use Discord for the majority of their comms during the program, all our announcements, gradings, and feedback live mainly on the platform.”
Discord Helps Companies Build Communities
Many brands turn to Discord because it helps them build communities with their customers. Regina Moore is a co-founder of Women’s Personal Finance, an organization dedicated to helping women and non-binary persons set and achieve their financial goals. Women’s Personal Finance has a paid membership option hosted on Discord. Moore explained that Discord “offered easy-to-use functionality with features that encourage a variety of member interactions. It has a tight-knit feel you don’t get on more traditional forums.”
Angela Locashio, intersectional life and business coach at Mama Pistachio, uses the platform for similar reasons. Her server is a safe place for nerdy, neurodivergent, & queer entrepreneurs to discuss the intersectionality of their personal lives and businesses. The general community is open to the public and lets people decide whether they see value in what she sells. She says that members of the Discord “can use what they see in the community to make an informed decision to hire me” and goes on to say that Discord is “more personal than Facebook or Instagram as we really get to know each other as a community.”
MELD, a decentralized finance protocol on the Cardano network, is a larger company that uses Discord for brand building and customer engagement. The MELD Discord server is dedicated to news and information about cryptocurrency and has over 4500 members.
Travis Price, ambassador for MELD, said that the company uses the server to engage with potential clients and promote product launches. He goes on to say that “Users like direct engagement and reduced distances between themselves and representatives of a project.” Price explains that the Discord server allows these potential customers to gather information about services and releases and provides an opportunity to interact with the brand.
Adaptability is Key, and Discord Delivers
Adaptability is essential as attitudes towards brands, work, and culture shift. Discord offers a plethora of bot integrations, personalization options, and functionality for free, making it an enticing option for businesses of all types.