The Rise of Discord and Slack in Online Developer Communication Channels

The Rise of Discord and Slack in Online Developer Communication Channels

Discord and Slack are two of the fastest-growing developer marketing channels.

In the State of Devrel Report 2021, the Top 10 list of Online Communication Channels shows a relatively unsurprising mix of developer marketing channels. Participants in the survey were asked to rank the top five online sites most effective at reaching and communicating with their developer communities. The top three remain unchanged year over year. First is Twitter, followed by GitHub, and then Company Website. 

Slack trails YouTube in fifth place, with 31.2% of respondents listing it as a Top 5 channel. Discord rose to 13.8%, up from 2% the year prior.  Despite not being as popular as Twitter, these two communication platforms are becoming valuable developer tools.

Discord and Slack are two channel-based communication platforms offering real-time messaging and file sharing. Although Slack has long been a standard for tech companies of all sizes, Discord has become a niche place for developers to collaborate, though originally founded as a communication  for gamers. 

We should consider why these channels have become increasingly important for developer communities.

Slack

Since its days as a tool just for developers, Slack has evolved into a business-wide team collaboration tool. Developers use Slack at work and in 3rd party communities to communicate and collaborate. Its popularity is largely due to its ease of use. When a Slack account is created, any number of channels can be created and segmented according to projects or interests.

Slack has become particularly popular among developers because of its ability to integrate with other tools. Suppose a developer uses GitHub to collaborate on a project. They can easily integrate their GitHub account with Slack to receive notifications about issues and pull requests directly in Slack.

The Node.js community on Slack is another example. Node.js has an official Slack group where anyone can join, share knowledge about the framework, get help from other coders, learn more about JavaScript development, and discuss anything related to Node. There are thousands of members from all over the world in the group who share information every day. Platforms like this are incredibly valuable for open-source projects such as Node because they allow people learning how to code or developing on the framework to connect with others who can answer questions or provide insight into problems they are experiencing.

Discord

For many years, Discord has been the preferred way for gamers to communicate with each other and stream their gameplay in real-time. It has expanded beyond simply a gaming social network. With the free platform, users can build their own servers around any interest or purpose - including developer communities. With its intuitive interface, it's easy to jump into a conversation right away. Additionally, Discord has several features that appeal to users, such as voice chat channels, custom emojis (including animated ones), and support for multiple platforms. 

Developers use Discord much like any other online communication channel to facilitate discussion and community building. But the thing that makes Discord so unique is its social aspect: you can join multiple communities and have conversations about almost anything. It feels more like a social neighborhood than a business communication tool like Slack.

One of the most active developer communities on Discord is Ethereum, a blockchain network that supports the Ether cryptocurrency. Although the Ethereum community was once on Slack, they migrated to Discord when they were hit with a wave of new users and needed a better way to manage their large community.

Ethereum Discord server

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to building and managing a thriving developer community. Consider your unique product or service offering and tailor your strategy. Both Slack and Discord are effective tools for building communities with developers. One may be better suited than the other, depending on your goals with your community channels. 

Catchy identifies five new trends in developer marketing. Discover the first trend in our series, the Decentralisation of Developers. The second highlights the Influence of Individuals on your developer marketing strategy. The third explains the integrated roles of Buyers and Builders in your sales journey.