You already have a audience on social media platforms and now you want to convert your audience into a community. With the myriad of options out there, it has become confusing for community builders to choose a community platform...

...Should you prioritize engagement and familiarity and go with Slack?
...Or should you go with a similar platform (Discord) that has a more external focus?
...Or what if prioritizing a forum-like platform such as Discourse is the way to go?

Read on to know about each of these platforms, so you can make an informed decision.

Community Platforms Comparison - Slack vs Discord vs Discourse

Slack, Discord and Discourse are all apps that help you build community so you can engage your audience and customers in discussions. Here, we will compare all three platforms to give you a better idea to help you choose the best one suited for your needs. 

Slack

Slack is the universally accepted messaging platform for internal teams. Its powerful and extremely engaging interface is great for getting people to share, comment, and react to teammates' messages. Moreover, Slack has become a very familiar product especially after COVID-19 and employees all over the world are very familiar with the platform.

Several startups and brands have started using Slack for customer communities as well.

Here is an example of how Product School has used Slack to its advantage:

💡 Case Study: Product School Slack Community

With over 60,000 members in the community, Product School has managed to create a community for product managers, where they can get advice from other successful product managers, ask questions, get feedback and engage in discussions related to product management.

The community also has channels like events where any upcoming events are posted, there a resume review channel for those in need, a job portal channel for the job seekers and it also product launches and mock interviews. Apart from this, the community also has a random funny channel to keep the fun alive.

Pros and Cons of using Slack

Here's a list of the pros and cons of using Slack:

✅ Pros:
  • Slack is already used widely in companies around the world, so your community members will use a platform they are familiar with and love.
  • Slack is extremely engaging and as engagement is one of the biggest problems with online communities, Slack could help you solve this.
  • Slack has a vibrant ecosystem with a ton of integrations in its app marketplace. You can pick and choose any integration that works for your members.
❌ Cons:
  • Slack's free plan includes only 10,000 recent messages. Thus, only the most recent 10k messages can be searched and viewed. This ends up being a big hassle when the community takes off. However, while creating your community at the start, this shouldn't be much of an issue.
  • Slack starts feeling disorganized when the workspace gets big and includes 1000s of members. So if you have a mid-sized community with over 5000 members, Slack may start feeling quite disorganized.
  • It is easy to lose track of the big picture while using Slack, so again if you have a community that is mid-sized, Slack may begin to feel shallow.

Discord

Discord is similar to Slack but has some superpowers for communities, and as a result is growing in popularity as a community platform. Discord has become popular with Gen Z a lot due to its dynamic interface. Apart from gamers, it has also become popular with people wanting to build communities for their brands. Here are some examples of brands that used Discord to build their communities:

💡 Case Study: Supabase Discord Community

Founded in 2020, Supabase is an open source alternative to Firebase. It helps developers with their backend needs. Supabase has its discord channel with over 7K members. The Supabase is an open-source solution and as a result any developer in the community can contribute towards feature improvements and bug fixes. Thus, Supabase's Discord community is extremely essential to the company. The server has many channels which include the general chit chat, ideas and suggestions, FAQs, and hackathon. It also has channels for their social media communities on Twitter, Reddit and Youtube.

💡 Case Study: Mr.Beast Discord Gaming Community

Mr.Beast Gaming is the youtube channel of an American Entrepreneur named Jimmy Donaldson. MrBeast hosts events and games on the youtube channel for its viewers and subscribers. The Discord server is the medium through which interested people can apply to the events that are hosted on the Youtube channel. The server has channels like questions and answers, announcements, how to play, and rules. The members are not allowed to chat. 

Pros and Cons of using Discord

Here's a list of the pros and cons of using Discord:

✅ Pros:

  • Discord has voice channels as well, so your members can view who's in a space and join if they like.
  • Discord has powerful moderation and custom access tools, which can be very helpful for a community.
  • Discord has unlimited messages in the free plan.
  • Discord scales well for mid-sized communities especially because it allows custom access and moderation

❌ Cons:

  • Discord's interface can feel a bit confusing for non-gamers
  • Moreover, multiple Discord communities can be joined with one account and it may be distracting especially if multiple communities joined by the member are highly active
  • Discord doesn't scale for large communities

Discourse

Discourse is a forum-based platform used to host large communities. When communities get large and members need help for their questions, discourse works really well.

💡 Case Study: Figma’s Discourse
Figma's Discourse community has more than 22 categories for the members to engage in. The members can participate in general discussions, ask questions to other community members, share ideas, and talk about bugs and how to fix them. Apart from these there are other categories that keep the members engaged and help them with anything related to Figma.

Pros and Cons of using Discourse

Here's a list of the pros and cons of using Discourse:

✅ Pros:

  • Discourse is great for maintaining a list of topics and previous discussions for immediate reference.
  • Discourse helps teams maintain a knowledge base so customer service inquiries can be reduced.
  • Discourse has strong moderation and access roles which works really well for large communities.

❌ Cons:

  • Discourse lacks the real-time engagement benefits that both Slack and Discord possess, which could impact engagement of your members
  • Discourse interface can feel a bit slow and clunky


Slack vs Discord vs Discourse detailed comparison

For a quick review refer to the table below:

Description

Audience

Type

Engagement

Pricing

Integrations

Themes

Video Conferencing

Audio Channels

Communication
 SlackDiscordDiscourse
Messaging platform for the workplaceMessaging platform for communitiesOpen source forum platform
Startups, CorporatesStartups, Creators, GamersStartups, Creators
Real-time ChatReal-time ChatForum
HighVery HighMedium
Free Plan, Paid Plan starting from $8Free Plan, Paid Plan starting from $4.99Free Plan, Paid Plan starting from $5
YesYesYes
Several preloaded themesOnly Light and Dark themes availableCustomisable
YesYesNo
Yes, in paid plansYesNo
SynchronousSynchronousAsynchronous



Points to consider before choosing a community platform

If you're a startup, here are a few points to consider before choosing a community platform:

Size of the community

How large do you expect your community to become over the next few years? If it will be a small to medium sized community, you can go with Slack or Discord, else Discourse might be a better option.

How important is SEO?

If SEO is super important for your community, choose Discourse.

Moderation requirements

Do you need moderation of the community? How fine-grained should the moderation be? If moderation is very important for you, go with either Discourse or Slack, else feel free to consider Discord.

Unlimited messaging

Is unlimited messaging a big concern for you? If so, go with either Discord or Discourse as Slack has a 10k messaging limit.

Discord or Slack, Casa helps you manage your online community so you can analyze your community members, add tags, schedule messages and engage your community. Do check us out and please give us feedback :)