341: Understanding Your Community Through Insights

After you’ve enabled community features for your server, you can use Discord Insights to help you understand not just how your members are interacting with the server, but also what these people are like. In order to understand your members, you need to understand how to infer characteristics of their personality, behavior, and knowledge based on your community demographics and new member traffic sources. Before reading this article, you should have a basic understanding of how to interpret the charts and tables in the server insights dashboard. A description of each is provided on the dashboard itself. A brief glossary of terms is provided at the end of this article for further clarification.

Understanding Your Members
Community Demographics

The information most immediately available about your community is available on the Audience tab of Server Insights. This does not include demographic information about all of the members on your server, but rather only members that have visited your server (i.e. viewed at least one channel) within the past 28 days. Therefore, this provides a snapshot of the nature of your actual community, including their country of origin, Discord account age, and the devices they use to access Discord. This information is useful in a variety of ways.

  • Which countries are my members from? Knowing the countries your members are from will help you understand their language competency and cultural background. For example, if your members are generally from the U.S., you can expect that they mostly speak English as a first language. You can also expect that having a wide distribution of represented countries will result in members with different concepts of harassment, NSFW content, racism, or other topics all interacting with each other. 
  • Are my members also new to Discord? If your members are new to Discord (< 1 day or < 1 month), then they are less likely to be familiar with the app, bots, or other Discord functions compared to members that have older accounts. They may also not yet understand common Discord etiquette or be wholly versed in the Community Guidelines and Terms of Service.
  • What devices do they use? Knowing how your members are accessing Discord let you know how members are viewing your server. The screen real estate and mobile app experience is different from the desktop experience. If you have a high percentage of mobile members, ensuring that your informational channels are short will help those members navigate your server more easily.
  • How long have they been a member of the server? Veteran users may have different expectations and uses of the server compared to newer members. They may be more used to bots or other systems the server uses in operation and less accepting of change compared to new members. However, a low proportion of veteran users may indicate that the long term value of your server is low and that people do not see a reason to stay. 
Traffic Sources

Once you’ve looked at your user demographics, you should start to analyze your traffic sources, especially if your user demographics are different from what you expected. The Audience insights will help you understand the composition of your community, but analyzing your member growth will help you understand how you got there.

The first thing to look at is the new members chart on the Growth & Activation tab. This illustrates your member joins over time by source, including Server Discovery, vanity URL, and regular Discord invite.

Invite Statistics

While the vanity URL for your server is easy to remember, it still functions just like a normal invite. You can find out more about the way your invites are driving traffic to your server by scrolling down to the Most Popular Invites and Most Popular Referrers tables.

The Most Popular Referrers table shows the website that your members were on just before they clicked your invite link. For websites that support this functionality, this is a great way to understand what web pages are driving traffic to your server regardless of how many invite links you have. 

The Most Popular Invites table shows you which server invites are being used the most (and also includes your vanity URL, if you have one). If you are using only a single invite to your server, then this table is not informative. However, one way to make this table more useful is to generate multiple invite links to your server. Then you can use a unique invite link each place you currently use the same invite link and will better be able to see which websites are generating the most traffic.

Once you set up unique invite links, you can measure not just the number of members that come from a website but the extent to which that website’s invite link is shared. For example, if 100 people join from an invite link on Twitter, you could expect to see 100 invite uses and 100 referrals from twitter.com. However, one of those users may send that same invite link through other methods to 20 more users. In this case, the invite link will show 120 uses, but widely different referrals related to those 20 additional members. In the end though, you can still easily attribute those joins to Twitter and better understand your traffic sources as a result. However, you should remember that any adjustments you make to your invite system will take some time to reflect meaningfully in your server insights.

Relating Traffic Sources to User Behavior

Now that you have detailed information about how members are arriving at your server, you can start analyzing how this is impacting your community characteristics. You can also start drawing conclusions about how users might behave in terms of contribution to discussion, adherence to server rules, and longevity as a member.

For example, members that join via an invite link found on social media, such as a Facebook group/page, subreddit, or Twitter may already have prior experience in your server’s topic.  Having previously been invested in your topic/community, they may be more well behaved and more likely to stay compared to other members.

The behavior of members joining from another Discord server will vary. If the server in question is directly related to your topic, such as the official Discord server for the game that your Discord server is about, you will likely get members that are interested in staying on your server long-term. If the rules of the related server are similar to your own, then these members will probably be able to follow the rules of your server without issue. However, if your rules are very different from the other server, there may be a “culture clash” from new members that aren’t used to your rules.

The types of members that join from a third party server listing site or Server Discovery can vary wildly depending on the server listing site itself and how you advertise your server. Members that join via Server Discovery or third party server listing sites often don’t know exactly what they are looking for and may not be invested in your topic before joining. They may also just be browsing for servers that they can troll or raid, and might not be as likely to stay compared to members that have more personal interest in your topic or server.

You should also consider the way that people from these various sources will interact with each other. If an overwhelming number of your users is coming from one source, those people may create a server culture that is not welcoming to members that come from other places. As a server owner, you will have to carefully consider how to manage potential conflicts that arise.

Overall though, remember that these examples are still based on deductive reasoning and may not be applicable to your server, even if the origin of your server traffic is the same. 

Conclusion

Having read this article, you should better understand how to connect the information from the Audience tab of your server insights with information about your traffic sources from the Growth & Activation tab.

However, any conclusions you draw from this data assume your new members and old members are similar, or that most of your visitors within the past 28 days are either longtime members or new members as seen in the relevant chart. If you have recently changed the way you advertise your server dramatically, the origin and demographics of your members may also be changing. If this is the case, you will need to consider the possibility that your community is changing, or that two or more communities are developing alongside each other. It is vitally important that you understand the nature of your members and your traffic sources before attempting to deduce the relationships between them.

When you can relate traffic sources and demographics towards user behavior, you give yourself a strong, data-driven foundation for future improvements to your community that will reflect in server insights. Measuring the demographic characteristics of your community and how they arrived at your server is the foundation towards managing your community well. For more information about this data driven approach to community improvement, check out DMA 442.

Glossary of Terms

The following terms are key to understanding what the server insights data is showing you. Take a moment to understand what each of those terms mean before continuing with the rest of this article. For more information, check out the definitions on the Insights portal itself.

Visitors - Members that click on your server and view at least one channel are counted as “visiting” your server or channel. Any user that joins your server is automatically a visitor on the day that they joined. Members that join a voice channel are referred to as Listeners. On the table of channel activity, these people are described as Readers.

Communicators - Members that have sent at least one message in a text channel or spoken for at least one second in a voice channel. All communicators are also visitors. On the table of channel activity, these people are called Chatters.

User Activation - Discord defines a user as being ‘activated’ when they send at least one message or view at least three channels. 

Retention - In general, retention refers to the continued use of a product or service over time. Members do not need to send a message in order to count as being retained as long as they view at least one channel. For example, a user that visits your server one month after joining has been “retained” for a month.

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