Let’s get to the good stuff.
It’s time to say goodbye to follower counts and algorithmic timelines.
Discord is introducing us to the future of social media.
Before we get into that, here’s a peek at what’s to come:
- Time to finally meet, Meet.
- COVID-19 remains tragic but we have some, small, silver linings
- The future is near; two Australian men can now control their computers telepathically.
Discord Disrupts the Internet of Things
No followers, no likes, no algorithm gamification…
Just forums, chat rooms, and private chat rooms allowing users to connect and communicate with friends and families in real time.
In the early days, when Discord was still exclusive to gamers, developers focused on decreasing latency rates, increasing group creation, and establishing the ability to host massive video calls – for the purpose of watching streamers directly in the app.
Though Discord’s focus was always on gamers, they were able to expand into serving other groups and identified new ways to benefit users, increasing their monthly user base by 90 million in 4 years.
But how’d they do it?
Discord lists May 13, 2015 as the official launch day, and by 2016 community channels were veering away from gaming. In the beginning about 30% of servers were about non-gaming topics, but Discord never paid this much attention.
They were focused on moderation for the first few years and developed a moderator bot named CarlBot to ensure all communications remained above board and that there were no harmful groups connecting through Discord.
Starting in 2019, Discord started looking into its expanding user base and began running focus groups and user studies to better understand how Discord was perceived.
One standout finding from their study was that the biggest misconception around Discord was that it was for gamers only. People were hosting, and wanted to host, their study groups, tutoring sessions, knitting clubs, book clubs, etc. all on Discord.
Internally Discord began to view themselves differently and started to focus on the natural path of growth guided by users’ habits. This reassessment caused their motto to change from the Chat for Gamers to the Chat for Communities and Friends.
On top of this, Discord’s failure to compete with Steam in the online game sales marketplace, solidified the change of focus from gaming to broader community chat servers.
They held their own against Steam but after a few months Discord realized their audience was coming to chat and not buy games. Even with the success seen in the graph below, Discord decided to stop these efforts and focus on their core chat service offering.
After forfeiting the Discord Game Store, they pivoted to a premium subscription based program called Nitro. This subscription is $10 a month and gives users features such as higher quality video and voice chatting.
With revenue now tied to subscriptions, Discord focused on expanding their chat platform across as many communities as possible to gain new subscribers.
Discord hasn’t been concerned about further expanding their revenue stream since they have raised nearly $400 million and have a company valuation of $3.5 billion. Because of this, selling ad space to increase profits has not been top of mind.
Admittedly Discord’s founders have spoken out against selling ad space and user data but they will come around and we, as marketers, need to be primed for our Discord ad pitches.
The final factor that Discord has used to change the face of online communication is by offering users their own monetization opportunities.
Within Discord, users can create private and premium rooms where other members need to pay a fee to be a part of the group.
For example, in the gaming community, top streamers can create private rooms and charge a fee for others to join and watch exclusive streaming content and have direct conversations.
Creating a path for users to benefit, not only socially but financially, from their site keeps loyalty high and establishes yet another reason to prefer Discord over traditional chat-based sites.
Now five years in, Discord has clearly done something remarkable – it has reimagined the future of social media by creating a space that is unlike any other.
With 100 million active monthly users, it seems as if Discord has found their place and isn’t looking to pivot any further.
- Product profitability can indicate where a pivot is required
- Customer research allows you to better position your service
- User monetization creates platform loyalty, and exclusive content attracts more users
- Offering user monetization creates desirable exclusive content, attracting additional users
Google Meet is Late But Learned a Great Lesson
In the words of Geoffrey Chaucer, “For better than never is late; never to succeed would be too long a period”. Today we know the saying as, “Better late than never.”
This saying hits close to home for Google Meet, formerly Hangouts, as they finally rolled out customizable backgrounds, a feature that was introduced to Teams in April 2020 and was also a stand out feature earlier this year for Zoom.
Although Meet hadn’t allowed users to fake out their team members with a beautiful home office background while they sat in bed. Users were able to access a blurred background feature ensuring no one noticed the laundry pile behind them.
We can’t say that the staggering difference of users came solely from the lack of a virtual background option, but it definitely played a hand.
When looking at different meeting platforms options be it Zoom, an exclusive video conferencing service; or Teams, Meet & Slack, which all offer a virtual workspace service; lacking one feature can make or break a user’s decision to download.
Including even one additional feature can sway a prospect during the evaluation stage of the decision making process.
Especially when you consider the fact that there are an estimated 673,000 searches a month for Zoom Backgrounds. That’s a lot of demand for a feature that Meet didn’t have…
- Even one additional feature can sway users’ buying decisions
- Use search volume to better understand what your customers wants
- If you have the feature customers want, talk about it early & often
Finding the Silver Lining in the Catastrophe that is COVID -19
There is no denying that COVID-19 has not been ideal in any way… for anyone…
This pandemic has been and continues to be horrifically damaging to health, social systems, and the economy, and to top it all off, it has forced us to pivot and change how we interact, manage, work and collaborate.
While this pivot may have been inconvenient, it has a positive side as it took us out of a routine and helped us reimagine how the world could work.
Here are the 3 key positive takeaways:
- Rise and retention of remote working
- Greater opportunities for growth and training
- Increased potential for diversity and inclusion
Let’s break those down….
Positive Takeaway #1: Rise of Remote Work
Remote work drastically increased due to COVID-19 and the lockdowns it caused. Coming out of these closures, companies like Twitter, Reddit, and DropBox have decided to remain remote.
We know why remote work began, but why have we seen it stick around?
A study by Atlassian found that 40% of teams have experienced an improvement in collaboration during the pandemic – during the peak of remote work. This is a result of the increase in company-wide public communication over apps with public channels, like Slack.
Another remote benefit comes out of not having to head to the office. People hate waiting in traffic—after all, time is money and having a 45-minute commute harms productivity.
Long commute times can even increase frustration and stress levels upon starting the workday, which doesn’t set your employees up for success.
Beyond the removal of commutes, the image above ranks the additional benefits of remote working:
- Flexible Schedule
- Working from anywhere
- No commute
- Time with family
- Working from home
Yes, remote working may feel strange at first, but trust me – as a remote worker, once you go sweats you never go back.
Positive Takeaway #2: Opportunity for Growth and Training
As team sizes shrank and we adapted to new responsibilities and workloads, opportunities were created for growth. For example, many young marketers brought onto teams had to step up and take charge of projects and tasks that they may never have experienced otherwise.
More than 20% of marketing professionals believe that career advancement opportunities have increased in 2020. As employees need to be trusted to take on more projects and work increasingly independently.
In terms of training, 41% of marketers under 35 support remote work and feel it will have a positive impact on the industry.
Why do they feel this way?
Because remote training allows for focused 1:1 attention. This allows employees to learn in ways that work for them and bring up fewer, and more specific, issues for discussion and direction.
Positive Takeaway #3: Increase in Diversity and Inclusion
Using the same levels of communication from intern to CEO, and an increase in services like Slack where channels are open to everyone on the team, has helped to level out hierarchies.
When it comes to communication, more conversations are happening in the open for every team member to see, granting a chance to interact with colleagues you may not have talked to otherwise.
Because of this, 26% of marketers believe that remote work grants greater hiring diversity – levelling the playing field even further.
Remote work effectively removes restrictions caused by disabilities or proximities, and flexible hiring leads to a more equal platform for all.
COVID coerced us to stay indoors, but out of coercion came a chance to change the status quo for the better.
- Remote working isn’t going anywhere
- On the job growth and training opportunities are taking off
- Working without walls increases diversity and inclusion amongst team members
OTHER NEWS OF THE WEEK:
🚚 Duncan Riley reports on automation’s newest force in enterprise logistics; Truck automation and logistics startup Outrider raises $65M, for their AI-based machine learning freight trucks.
💸 Reddit won’t lower employee pay if they move out of high-cost cities like San Francisco; Jessica Bursztynsky reports on Reddit’s choice to maintain salaries, unlike VMware who are slashing salaries for employees leaving the Silicon Valley.
👽 SpaceX returns to earth with a focus on broadband internet. Samantha Masunaga discusses how SpaceX starts rolling out Starlink internet – focused on satellites and improving rural internet connection.
BRAIN FOOD OF THE WEEK:
This week’s brain food is coming straight out of the brains’ of two Australian men who have received a paper clip sized brain implant, allowing them to control a computer with their thoughts. Yeah… You read that right.
For now, this technology is not available for commercialization as it is serving a greater purpose – giving those with paralysis a little more autonomy over their lives. 9 News from Australia covered this story, offering a more in-depth look into the implants and their current use.
“Australia develops the first of its kind implant to allow people to control their computers with their minds. Tested on two men who have been struck with paralysis and it has helped them to regain autonomy over their lives. A big step for the future of technology and for the quality of life for those suffering from paralysis.”
TWITTER THREAD OF THE WEEK:
ALBUM OF THE WEEK:
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