A year ago, I wrote an article titled 10 things I learned from owning a 10K Discord server. There was a sentence in that article that still resonates with me to this day.
"Owning a Discord server is like getting married, you have to be committed to it"
That was my mistake – I stepped away from the community. It's easy to find something to blame for a situation when you don't quite fully understand the situation yourself. To no one's surprise, the activity of the server went downhill.
The server that we're discussing today is my own Planet Roonie, currently sitting at almost 15k Members. I started it when I was just starting out on YouTube as a Discord content creator. Like any teenager's Discord server, this community has had its own ups and downs, good days and bad days, accomplishments and dramas.
How to Recover a Dying Server
The general chat was getting more and more inactive every day. For those who want to make a change to it, it may be a simple decision, just announce that the server is shutting down and migrate the community into a new server – the inactive ones will get filtered out. Right?
Well that seems like an easy way out, let's get more into detail. What exactly seems to be the problem here? The server should, theoretically, fuel itself. There's a staff system managing and moderating the community. The server is being promoted on my YouTube with my decently performing videos that are still getting constant views every day. So, what is the problem?
1. Clean Up The Mess
Since I personally have been inactive in the server, the server has been losing interest in my content itself. This was mainly due to the lack of new content. As a result of the prolonged inactivity, many of the server boosters started to withdraw their boosts, which lead in turn to the loss of our vanity invite link (custom server invite). Which was a huge mess.
My YouTube channel, all videos themselves and my social media accounts all over the internet featured my custom Discord server invite link. The link that was no longer working. So the problem for the decline in members has been finally identified:
Members leave Discord servers all the time. The rate of growth is stable only if your Join Rate > Leave Rate.
In my case, there was no "Join Rate" since, the traffic and promotion of my Discord server has completely stopped all at once. So that was left were the leavers.
So the first step to this recovery is to clean up this huge mess. And replace the invalid custom invite link with a newly generated working URL. Unfortunately, by the time I realized the custom link was invalid, someone else had already claimed the link.
And within one week of replacing the URLs, the growth had finally come to a stable state. It's flat but at least it's not declining.
It's time we go all-in. And commit to making this situation better. It's either act now or the server dies beyond repair. Being the designer that I am, taking everything I learned about Graphic Design in my inactivity, I designed a new branding identity for Planet Roonie.
One of the best ways to get a Discord server active is to keep introducing new stuff to it. Keep the members entertained. The moment it slips out of their mind that this server exists, they'll leave right away the next time they see it.
This also includes updating your information based on the new branding. And I don't recommend completely rebranding out of your theme. You are who you are, no need to change the names or server topic completely.
As for Planet Roonie, it hadn't been updated in months. Not a single announcement, no new logos and banner, barely any messages from me.
And this rebrand did not disappoint. Right after I added the new branding, the chats went active again. Might not have lasted very long but for a brief moment, it felt like the good old days again.
3. Conduct a SWOT analysis
A SWOT analysis is one that looks over the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, of any product, service, or in our case – even communities.
Why not? Identify what the strengths of your community are. What exactly is it that is keeping it together even after this huge decline in member count. As for weaknesses, there may be many. Things may be broken with your systems. The ticket system may not be working, or certain self-roles may not be working. Get into work and fix them.
Look into opportunities of what can be a great way to improve the community health. This could be starting a new event. Or performing a marketing stunt like a face reveal – may or may not be satirical.
And for threats, look into what exactly is causing this downfall and how you can clear this threat and turn it into an opportunity.
This is also a great time to look into what new features you may be missing out on. In our case, Discord recently released their new onboarding feature which we still hadn't applied. We did and now the joining experience is much better.
Based on SWOT analysis in the previous step, develop a Revitalization plan and work on it accordingly. Give your staff team a break, take some workload off them. Or if they've been on break like you then maybe it's time to recruit some new ones.
In the case of Planet Roonie, we were losing boosts day-by-day, until we introduced new perks to Boosters. Specifically the one that let any double Booster friend me on Discord. That was a really attractive offer. And we were back to level 3 boosts for sometime for sure.
It may also be time for exploring new marketing and promotion methods. To gain more activity in the server, you may also try hosting an event in your Discord server. It's also time for you to be more present in the server; to be there for your members when they have any questions, or for your staff when they need further help on a case. Even for everyone in the community, just being there to chat around and help develop a sense of connection so that your community is more invested into the idea of your vision of this server.
It's time you look into the details. Was this revitalization plan a success or was it a complete fail and waste of time?
Most of statistics will be right in front of you. Do you see a more active chat? When was the last message? More importantly, do you see a healthy chat? Are there any rule breakers; are the mods doing their jobs? Is everything setup properly?
For more insights, you will find that in the Server Insights tab of your Server Settings.
For further results, it may also be worth it to create a Feedback Form for your community. Use the data gathered from this to further improve your server for the better.
And that is the story of how Planet Roonie was once again back on its feet. Now, why was recovering this server so important? As the Founder and Managing Director of Netcord Agency, I believe that my personal server serves as the forefront example of what Netcord and I can achieve in community building.
We've received many requests from potential clients asking for a community that is built like Planet Roonie. I was truly flattered by those requests but personally I knew that Planet Roonie could be better and there was definitely some fixes on the back end that could really improve the overall experience.
And my thought process was correct, after the rebrand and the whole renovation, we have seen and influx of Branding project quotation requests and requests that have specifically asked for a community like Planet Roonie.
So, is the server really at its peak now? Definitely not. We're still trying to improve and we're making a change all the time. I don't think any server reaches it's true peak at any time. Because of the changing environment on Discord's community features, there's always something new to add.