Welcome to the 12 Days of Data 2021 Edition, our look back at the data that made marketing in 2021. We’re looking at the year that was (and oh, what a year it was… again…) from an analytics perspective to see what insights we can take into the next year. Sit up, get your coffee ready, and let’s celebrate some data and look forward to the year ahead.
Slack and Discord Instances
On the 12th day of the 12 Days of Data, we look to two of the largest private social media community platforms and their continued explosive growth, Slack and Discord. Back in 2019, we identified these two platforms as strong contenders for private, “velvet-rope” social media communities that escaped the grasp of Google and Facebook, but provided people with safe spaces to interact, such as our Analytics for Marketers Slack community.
With the pandemic, both platforms experienced rapid, substantial growth over the last two years. Audiences, looking for communities that supported the niches they were interested in, flocked to these platforms and started creating communities for their specific interests. Enterprising companies, especially those operating in more restricted spaces such as gambling, cryptocurrencies, and adult entertainment, also seized the opportunity to create their own private communities, a bulwark against the continued squeezing of brands on public social media like Facebook Inc.
(A note of clarification that Slack refers to its communities as instances, while Discord refers to the same entity as a server)
Some of the headline statistics:
- 32,141 new publicly-accessible Slack instances in 2021, up from 16,170 in 2020 (many more that are not publicly accessible, such as company workspaces, are not included), a 98.8% increase
- 189,703 new Discord servers in 2021, up from 124,603 in 2020, a 52.2% increase
- On the single largest day, 3,090 new Slack instances were formed, up from 350 in 2020, a 783% increase
- On the single largest day, 3,883 new Discord servers were formed, up from 2,888 in 2020, a 34.5% increase
- Traffic to just the invitation pages for Slack and Discord earned 117.4 million visitors in 2021
We see these traffic surges clearly in an examination of the past few years.
We see the first big spike last year for both services in the early months of the pandemic – again a reminder that the majority of Slack instances are private (usually companies) and are not reflected here. But the surge was nothing compared to the second major surge in August of 2021 as both Slack and Discord saw record growth of new instances.
Let’s now look at the top instances in each network. What are the most popular servers on each service, by invitation page traffic?
For Slack, we see lots of tech and cryptocurrencies, neither of which is a surprise. A surprise entrant on the list, however, is the Guggenheim Museum and Foundation; Slack is being increasingly used by non-technical organizations for managing their communities.
Discord’s gaming heritage shines through in the number of communities dedicated to gaming; however, a number of other forms of entertainment also show up on the list. Discord’s more public nature invites a lot more traffic and prominence than Slack.
Thinking of starting your own instance? Here are the top words used in the invitation links for each service.
Slack channel, Slack workspace, and Slack community top the list; if you’re unsure what to refer to yours as, those would be three recognizable choices.
For Discord, Discord server, Discord channel, and just referring to your community as a Discord are the most popular choices for naming conventions.
The explosive growth of both these platforms is a testament to the willingness of people to add yet another service to their social media habits if the service provides them the benefits they’re looking for.
Community platforms like Slack and Discord incorporate no algorithms in what members see, opting instead for a simple chronological timeline – an appeal of the mainstream social media platforms early on that have since been lost due to services using AI to promote retention.
Critically, these platforms also make money differently; Slack charges companies to administer their platforms after a certain number of messages. Discord charges users who want to upgrade their servers to have more premium features like improved voice and video chat and other appearance customizations. Neither uses advertising to pay the bills, which means that both have different financial incentives. Instead of selling ads, these services are incentivized to promote member retention in their communities.
Inside each service, multiple offerings exist for community managers to maintain and improve their communities, from moderation tools to member retention activities like events.
Combined, these tools promote member retention on the services, encouraging both members and sponsoring brands to upgrade and pay.
We said in 2019 that companies should give serious consideration to adopting and innovating on private community platforms like Slack and Discord. Those who took that advice early on benefitted strongly during the pandemic, with communities growing like crazy. For those that did not jump in, there is still time if you can curate a valuable community.
Trust Insights used the AHREFS crawling engine to extract 49,685 unique backlinks to the slack.com domain and 273,228 unique backlinks to the discord.com/discord.gg domain, removing links to support/service/status subdomains operated by the respective companies, such as status.slack.com. The period of the study is January 1, 2021 – December 21, 2021. The date of data extraction is December 22, 2021. Trust Insights is the sole sponsor of the study and neither gave nor received compensation for data used, beyond applicable service fees to software vendors.
Read the 12 Days of Data 2021 Series
- 12 Days of Data 2021, Day 1: Instagram for Brands
- 12 Days of Data 2021, Day 2: Instagram for Influencers
- 12 Days of Data 2021, Day 3: Instagram Media Types
- 12 Days of Data 2021, Day 4: Tiktok Trending Videos
- 12 Days of Data 2021, Day 5: TikTok Marketing Topic Deep Dive
- 12 Days of Data 2021, Day 6: SEO Page Decay Statistics
- 12 Days of Data 2021, Day 7: Press Release Statistics
- 12 Days of Data 2021, Day 8: Press Release (Over)used Words
- 12 Days of Data 2021, Day 9: 2022 Marketing Campaign Forecast
- 12 Days of Data 2021, Day 10: Top News and Web Content
- 12 Days of Data 2021, Day 11: Content Republishing
- 12 Days of Data 2021, Day 12: Slack and Discord
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