Hi @everyone! I’m Flora, and I’m a Discord Ambassador from UC Santa Barbara. As a Discord Ambassador, I promote Discord by raising brand awareness and implementing the platform at various UCSB clubs and organizations. I serve as a point of contact between Discord and the student community to ensure that we can continue growing to best serve student needs.
My love for Discord runs deep. After all, it’s the main way I’ve kept in contact with friends and developed new relationships over the past year. Discord’s ability to build community is unparalleled, and I’ve seen its overwhelmingly positive impact on clubs and organizations. From finding new friends within the over 3,000 members of the UCSB Discord, to grinding out late-night study sessions with fellow club members, and even scouting out their next Pokémon Go raids on the local PoGo server — Discord has become the platform of choice for many UC Santa Barbara students.
Whether your school club lives on Discord, you use Discord as a supporting tool for your IRL club, or you just want to make a great server for you and your closest classmates, here are my top ten tips to help your server succeed.
If you’re not familiar with Discord yet, I highly recommend checking this short video out before reading!
Make Use of the Channel Feature
An issue that you might’ve encountered when using other messaging platforms is attempting to make a club announcement in a group chat, only for it to be immediately buried under an avalanche of incoming messages. This difficulty in communicating can prevent you from delivering important messages to your club members.
One of the biggest advantages of using Discord is the ability to keep your club communications organized using Channels. Channels are the fundamental building blocks to a Discord server, especially when being used for a club or organization.
You can set up multiple types of channels, each with its own purpose — here are a few types of channels that are essential for making your community feel at home.
A popular channel for clubs that I always help set up is #announcements. Having a separate channel that contains important club messages will ensure that your club will always know where to find the latest information! This ensures that your communications are always received rather than buried. You can use Role Permissions to make it so only your club officers will be able to make announcements.
#Resources and #Q-and-A
#Resources and #q-and-a channels are also important channels to set up for your club. They work especially well in larger clubs, or in clubs that often experience large influxes of new members.
Having these types of channels will encourage the growth of your community as club members can use them to support each other. For example, UCSB’s Society of Undergraduate Psychologists uses its #resources channel to share valuable career and academic information. They use their #q-and-a channels so members can help each other out with any confusion about their major and anything psychology-related! As a result, they’ve created an environment where newer members can easily engage with the club community and find support.
Discord gives clubs the ability to reduce clutter and centralize club communication. Rather than having to search through the millions of group chats you’ve accumulated over time, you can have everything club-related in one place.
Private channels are another type of channel that you may find beneficial — they’re only visible to those you give permission to view and are fantastic for smaller group communication. Private Channels are especially popular for officer teams as they can have their private discussions and meetings within the server, without having to resort to making other servers or group DMs. Organizations with numerous projects or committees can create separate private channels for each group. That way, any club communication will still be centralized to the server and members will only see specific channels that are useful to them.
Stage channels allow you to share a focused conversation with select individuals to an audience of listeners — they’re great to use for meetings that mainly consist of members listening rather than everyone speaking, such as with club presentations or guest speakers. If you’ve accidentally unmuted during a meeting before (like I have…), then you’ll appreciate its efficacy at minimizing disruptions and ensuring that everything runs as smoothly as possible.
Make Your Server Feel Like Home
One of the main reasons clubs love Discord is because it can help you create a space that truly feels like your own.
Get creative with it! You can personalize your channel’s names to match your club’s culture. An example from fellow ambassador Lauren Grubbs is: “if you are a DnD club, something as simple as renaming your #general chat into #the-dungeon can be much more fun.”
Have a Dungeons and Dragons club? Name your general channel “the-dungeon!” Making your server’s channels feel like an extension of your niche or location is a sure-fire way to create a welcoming environment and increase your club’s engagement.
Another method clubs often use to emulate the feeling of being in-person is naming their channels after familiar physical locations. On UCSB’s Discord server, voice channels are strategically named to represent their purpose. The Voice channel meant for studying is named “Davidson Library’’ and the channel for chilling is named after the Arbor Lawn, a popular location where you can find many students lounging around in person.
Personalizing your server with familiar touches will make your members feel nostalgic and more connected with your club community, which is especially important during COVID-19 when many are unable to meet in person.
Create Customized Channels for Your Club’s Needs
Channels that are customized to your club’s needs will solidify your Discord as THE place for members to hang out and talk. Get creative and brainstorm activities that are already popular among your club members and adapt them for your server!
Here are a few suggestions that I’ve seen work well for clubs at UCSB:
- Organizations that are professionally-oriented or major-oriented often consist of members taking similar classes. For these types of servers, try setting up Voice channels called “Study Rooms” so your community members can study together! If there’s an exam coming up and your club members are struggling in a specific subject, others can volunteer to host virtual tutoring sessions in the rooms. Regardless of what they’re studying, many simply enjoy the company of studying with others to stay focused and keep each other accountable.
- If you’re setting up a server for a sport or exercise-oriented organization, consider setting up workout channels where members can motivate each other while exercising together. You can even host sessions where certain members lead workouts. It’s a great way to keep your sports-oriented communities tight-knit and active when you’re unable to meet in person.
Welcome Your Club Members
Your new members may be intimidated by the move to a newer platform if not given a proper introduction to its features, especially if it’s their first time on Discord. Counter this by creating a read-only welcome page that explains the basics of Discord, what each channel is used for, and the culture of the server. On your welcome page, make it clear that members are not only welcome but encouraged to hop onto voice channels at any time to chat with other members that may already be in there. Those new to the platform may initially feel hesitant, but this reassurance will come a long way in establishing your server. My fellow ambassador, Christina Ji, recommends “making this channel read-only so people can refer to it at any time as a source to navigate different topics as it really sets the tone for what vibes you want for the community!”
When new members join the server, you can also welcome them in the chat and watch as your fellow members join in!
Play Your ROLE in Making Your Club Easier to Navigate
Both new and long-time members in large organizations can often have trouble identifying who the officers of a club are. Even with brief introductions, it’s easy to forget and become confused on who to DM with questions — even outside of clubs!
This issue becomes nonexistent with the usage of roles! Clubs will often assign the Officer role to their officers so other members can easily identify them, and let’s be honest, flexing that shiny “Officer” title doesn’t seem too shabby either!
Roles can be used in a variety of different ways such as providing a way for members to find others who share similar interests or backgrounds with them. You can set up popular topics for roles such as favorite games, majors, interests, etc.
Here’s a scenario: imagine if I had the roles of “Pokemon lover,“ “Communication major” and “She/Her.” With these roles, other members with similar identities in my club can easily strike up a conversation about Pokemon or comm classes! When they start up that conversation, my gender pronoun role will ensure that they use my preferred pronouns.
Bots, Bots, Bots
You might be thinking, “hold on Flora… this all sounds great, but assigning roles to everyone in my 60-member organization seems like a lot of work! If only there was some way to automate this…”
Well, what if I told you that there is?
Introducing Bots! After setting up the basics of your server, bots are a great way to help your server reach its full potential by automating a lot of the heavy lifting. Below are some great starting points to the wide world of Bots!
- Want a bot that can automatically assign roles to members? Meet Carl-bot.
- Want a bot that can automatically warn or ban anyone that’s behaving inappropriately on your server? Check out MEE6.
- Want to send out fun polls to see what everyone’s favorite sandwich is? Ask them using EasyPoll!
- Want a bot where you play an economy game that revolves around managing your very own taco shack? One word: TacoShack.
The possibilities of bots are pretty much endless. (Ok, almost endless… I still haven’t found a bot that does my homework for me yet!)
Attract New Members with Invite Links
Joining a new organization or club can be nerve-wracking. Potential members are often faced with different challenges, whether it be joining a club full of strangers or lacking information to get started. Oftentimes, the anxiety or amount of effort it takes to go to that first meeting can prevent members from joining your club. That’s a lot of potential members — and potential friends — that are lost.
Invite Links for your server can help with publicizing your server through social media or your school’s club directory. This allows students to easily scope out your club at their convenience and receive updated information. You’d be surprised how many people are interested in your club but just haven’t gathered up the courage or motivation to join!
For example, I created a Discord server for a student that wanted to start a roller-skating club at UCSB. After making the server, she posted it on UCSB’s subreddit. Within a day, over fifteen members had joined the Discord server, instantly creating a community of fellow roller-skaters for her members to skate together with!
Invite links are also convenient. Unlike other platforms where you have to tediously add new members, you won’t even have to lift a finger! (Outside of generating the link of course.)
Hosting virtual events is a surefire way to bring your community closer together and increase engagement in your server. Some events that can be successful for your club include game nights, movie nights, and trivia nights. There’s a wide variety of fun multiplayer games to choose from, such as Skribbl.io, Jackbox, and Gartic Phone, and using Screenshare can help! Try asking your members to vote on a movie they want for movie night. And, trivia can also be a great way to bring out your members’ competitive side and test out their knowledge. Up the stakes and increase engagement further by offering a prize or two — Discord Nitro is easily giftable!
Question of the Day
One simple activity that’s highly effective at keeping clubs engaged is asking a question of the day! Questions of the Day serve as a fantastic conversation starter and encourages club members to get to know each other better.
The best part? You don’t even have to ask the daily questions yourself! You can use this QOTD Bot to automatically ask interesting questions every day. In case you want to personalize the questions to your club, you can easily add custom questions using the bot’s commands.
If you’d like to add this bot to your own server, you can check it out over here.
Lead By Example
For the most important tip of all, lead by example. As amazing as Discord is, you won’t be able to use everything it has to offer to help your club reach its full potential if no one is using it! People will go where their community and leader takes them. When they see you talking, engaging, hosting events and answering QOTDs, they’ll be more inclined to break out of their shell and start engaging as well!
Imagine a place where it’s easy to talk every day and hang out more often. As leaders, you and your officer team will lead your club members onto their next great adventure. With Discord’s capability to build and maintain communities through challenges, whether it be thousands of miles or simply social distancing, your club will be unstoppable.
Now that you’ve gotten a glimpse of how Discord can help your club thrive, what are you waiting for? You can use one of our college club templates to set up your server today, or take a peek at our blog for more information on starting your first Discord server!
You can also get together with your own classmates with Student Hubs. Head into the “Explore Public Servers” compass icon at the bottom of your list of servers, where you’ll find a new Student Hubs category! Once you verify your student email address, you’ll be able to see your campus community’s network of Discord servers to join.
The possibilities are endless with Discord, and we can’t wait to see your club thrive! If you want to tell us about your community or a crazy club event you recently ran, feel free to tweet us @Discord!