Your inbox is filling up. People complain about missed deadlines. You’re constantly taking your headphones off because someone’s trying to get your attention from across the office. The time has come to get a chat app. You look at options. Slack and Microsoft Teams come to mind first, highly recommended in the first few results you found during a Google search. But you’re also aware of a free tool, one you might not have tried before, but heard about from coworkers. Discord. But is Discord a tool you should use for your business? Or is it just not robust enough?
Let’s find out.
What is Discord?
Discord is a popular chat app, commonly used by gamers to stay organized as they play. But it’s also found a niche among other groups, and many brands create Discord servers to foster a sense of community among their audience.
At its core, Discord is about communicating with people through voice chat and text. On the surface, it’s similar enough to apps like Slack and Microsoft Teams to be used for business purposes. But is that really the case?
The benefits of using Discord for business
It’s hard to beat free. Compared with plans that start at $6.67 per user for Slack and $4.00 for Microsoft Teams, it’s easy to see the appeal in using Discord for your business’s chat app of choice. And while both Slack and Teams have free plans, they’re severely limited. That’s not the case for Discord. While Discord does have a paid tier, here’s what that plan has that the free plan doesn’t:
- Better emojis
- Profile personalization
- Bigger file uploads
- HD video
And that’s it. The vast majority of Discord’s features are available for free for up to 5,000 users. So whether you’re a small business or your team’s budget isn’t quite big enough for a chat app, you can use Discord to keep everyone in the loop.
Discord can do most things other apps can
You’d expect a free chat app to have serious limitations when compared to tools like Slack and Teams. After all, it’s a free tool marketed at gamers. Doesn’t seem like Discord would be something you’d want to use for business, right?
But log in to Discord and you’ll find a platform that works pretty similarly to what you’d pay hundreds of dollars for elsewhere. Discord text channels work just like Slack channels do, meaning you can keep your conversations organized and on-topic. Better yet, Discord’s voice-chat features are more advanced than those found in tools like Teams and Slack, since they were developed first, rather than added as an afterthought.
While there are some drawbacks to using Discord for business — more on that in a bit — it’s a perfectly serviceable chat app. The fact that it’s completely free is just a bonus.
How important are voice chats in your business? If you’ve used an app like Slack or Teams, audio has probably played a backseat role to written conversations, if only because the voice chat features for these tools aren’t too advanced.
Discord doesn’t have that disadvantage. It was built as a VoIP (voice over internet protocol) tool first. That means it has some of the best audio quality out there, and its voice chat features have benefited from years of development and fine-tuning.
You can start a direct audio channel with anyone in your contact list, use dedicated voice channels for discussing specific topics, and even use audio chat as a sort of background noise as you work. If you want a chat app that prioritizes audio and prevents the misunderstandings that happen when you write things out, Discord is a great choice for businesses.
Why you might not want to use Discord for business
If you’re looking for a tool with solid audio features, Discord is a great choice. But if you’re not, using an app that’s built around voice chat first might mean you’re missing out on some important features.
Slack’s interface is designed specifically with written messages in mind. Threads can be opened and closed more smoothly than in Discord, and formatting text is much easier. While its audio features are lacking when compared to Discord, you’ll have a smoother experience if you’re usually communicating with a keyboard rather than a microphone.
Tiny file upload limits
How often do you send attachments to your coworkers? If you’re not already using a chat app, you’re probably doing that through email. Email clients like Gmail usually have an attachment size limit of around 25MB. Slack’s attachments can be as big as 1GB. Discord’s file size limit?
8MB for the free plan. 100MB if you pay for Discord Nitro.
That means the files you send through Discord need to be smaller than if you were sending them by email. So even though Discord’s app is free to use, you’ll have to budget for some kind of cloud file storage solution if you want to use Discord as your business chat app of choice.
It doesn’t play well with others
Here’s something you might not have thought would matter when choosing your chat app: how many integrations does it have? And are they the right integrations?
Having to constantly switch between your chat app and other tools can cripple your productivity. That’s called context switching, and it can suck hours out of your day. So when you pick a chat app, one thing to look for is an integration that keeps it in sync with your work management tool of choice. That way, you limit the amount of switching you have to do. Apps like Slack often have hundreds of integrations. Discord?
If you’re fine with switching back and forth between tools, then you can still use Discord for business purposes. But if integrations are a dealbreaker, then Discord might not be the right tool for you.
Still want to use Discord?
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So can you use Discord for business?
You certainly can! Discord has many of the same features as chat apps dedicated for business users, like Slack and Microsoft Teams, and in some places actually outperforms them. But whether Discord actually suits your needs or not will depend on what those needs are. But since the tool is free, there’s nothing to lose from trying it out for a few months and seeing how it performs.