Opinions expressed by entrepreneur Contributors are their own.
I’ve always been an early adopter of technology. I remember how it felt the first time I listened to music on the go with my Walkman. With Michael Jackson’s Poorly album to my ears, I was at the top of the world, if not unstoppable.
Tech allows us to access more information and learn from voices around the world. It is an incredible tool for empowering people from all walks of life. When my then 16-year-old nephew told me about Discord a few years ago, I decided to give it a try.
Originally intended as a platform for group chats for gamers, Discord has since become a hub for various communities. With more than 150 million monthly active usersbrands like Open sea and Gucci flock to its members-only atmosphere.
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But what I like about Discord is that it harnesses the wisdom of the crowd, which I think is always smarter than any single person. Our startup has 35 employees, but since we launched Discord, it often feels like we have 5,000. The community it has helped us has blurred the line between customers, investors and employees. Here’s why that’s a good thing:
Build a community that is just as engaged as your employees
We operate a subscription based business where clients pay a membership fee to access crowdfunded properties. So you could say that collaboration and inclusivity is in the DNA of our company. Our Discord server has been instrumental in building a community of members who are just as passionate as our team.
Discord is like a good-natured version of Reddit. It opened up new opportunities for our business. Being able to focus on specific users was an incredible way to cut through the noise and get feedback from stakeholders – something we can’t do through other social media channels.
It’s also connected our staff to our members and created a positive feedback loop where they can collaborate on ideas, check in to see how a project is doing, or give a compliment. It has also acted as a democratizer – tearing down employee hierarchies and forging links between otherwise isolated interest groups.
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Everyone is invited to the conversation, regardless of whether they prefer to start a new topic, get involved in the thoughts of others or just lurk in the background and observe. This egalitarian approach means everyone feels their ideas are valued.
Build the product your customers want
Members not only ask and answer questions, they share ideas on how we can improve our product and know how others can use it more effectively. As a matter of fact, Some of our company’s most exciting initiatives come from our Discord community. By crowdsourcing customer feedback, we were able to identify what matters to them and tailor our product to what they want – and don’t want – in real time.
One of our current projects, for example, is the establishment of an academy for financial education to further educate our members. The product hasn’t been launched yet, but thanks to Discord we already have tons of ideas for the name and what features we want.
We no longer build for our community, we build With our community. We stumbled upon a way to conduct real-time beta testing, and feedback from our members has helped improve our business. For example, as we launch our upcoming “addyverse” product (aptly named by our community), one member mentioned that he would like to have an avatar for himself as the mayor of the properties he is partially invested in.
This resulted in lots of fun memes and a fun thread of conversation, but it also showed us how our members want to use the product. Our customers adopt an ownership mentality towards our business and help us to improve all aspects of the process.
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Brand ambassadors can become your best recruits
We haven’t hired anyone from our Discord community yet, but in many ways it would be ideal. Just spend some time scrolling through the conversations on our server and you’ll see exactly how we run our business — with complete transparency. It has grown into a great lead generator for potential talent, where our built-in brand ambassadors can share vacancies with their respective networks or apply themselves.
If we hire employees from our Discord community, we suspect the onboarding process would be simplified. The people on our servers already believe in our mission, understand our product and are passionate about our cause. We already have volunteers on the platform to moderate conversations and ensure interactions are respectful and follow community guidelines.
The commitment I have seen from these members is what any employer would hope to see from their employees. In fact, if any of them applied I would be receptive. What boss doesn’t want a team that is passionate about their company’s mission and committed to their customers?
We never intended to use our Discord server this way, but the great thing about experimenting with new technology is that you never know which platforms will move the needle.
Bottom line, our business was founded on a crowdsourcing model, so leaning on the same technology to build our business is not a problem for us. Now that you have access to the views of thousands of valuable minds, why would you depend on one person’s vision for your company’s success?
The way I see it, when a Nobel Prize winner is asked about his great achievement, he never claims to be the smartest person. Rather, they recognize that they are good at surrounding themselves with a variety of thinkers and tapping into the collective knowledge of the group.
And that’s exactly what tech-resistant leaders can lose. There is incredible innovation and kismet to be discovered by learning from the smallest of voices. It’s up to us as leaders to show up and listen—even if it’s in a collegial chat room.