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Which new social media platform has got everyone from Microsoft to Twitter to Amazon asking “What is Dis?”

How can you incorporate it into your marketing mix to earn that which cannot be bought?

And what exactly are “margs” and how did tequila brand Jose Cuervo use them to get their audience drunk with brand love?

This is Zonal Marketing a series which explores how innovative brands are shaking up their industries with extraordinary marketing.

In this episode I’m exploring Discord, the social media app that’s been hailed as the “new platform of choice for Gen-Z and young Millenials.”

So popular is the platform that, in 2020, one analyst estimated that users were already spending more time there than on Twitter and Snapchat. Other reports around the same time, suggested the platform had more than 150 million Monthly Active Users and hosted a total of 4 billion minutes of conversation a day.

No wonder companies like Microsoft, Amazon and – yes – Twitter have reportedly been putting in bids of up to 18 billion dollars for Discord.

But what is it? Well, in simple terms, think of it as being like a chat room where fans of particular brands and subjects can come together and discuss their topic of choice via audio, video or text.

Brands can’t have a ‘page’ like they do on Facebook, for example. Instead, they – like normal users – create ‘servers’ which are essentially hubs for communities to gather at.

The discovery element is limited meaning that users really have to know what they’re looking for and seek it out in order to engage, making it a customer demanded platform. This is in stark contrast to the way in which platforms like TikTok, for example, revel in the ‘For You’ recommendation engine, which widens brands’ reach.

And another key differentiator is that Discord does not have native ads. That’s right, it’s not designed to harvest users’ data in order to sell to them. How refreshing (ahem, Facebook).

So let’s start by looking at how some innovative brands have already been using it to do what it’s really meant for, and that is starting “conversations within niche communities”.



Whenever we talk about innovative brands on social, we typically end up coming back to the same handful of companies that ‘get it’. And Discord is no different. Among the early adopters are US fast food restaurant, Chipotle, UK sports clothing brand, Gymshark and everyone’s favourite rainbow-tasting sweet, Skittles.

But I want to focus on a particular execution by tequila brand, Jose Cuervo who, at the beginning of 2020, had already spotted a trend among some consumers for “watch[ing]… mixology videos while making cocktails at home”. When the pandemic hit the brand saw their opportunity and set up a “Who’s Making Margs?” (that’s cool kid slang for Margaritas) series of interactive video watch-alongs on Discord.

But this was no ordinary Zoom call. Attendees were not wearing a shirt and tie on their top halves and just their underpants down below.

The campaign saw four celebrities – Lil Dicky, T-Pain, Ilana Glazer and Keke Palmer – hosting mixology lessons on the Cuervo server. Each promoted the event in advance using their other considerable social audiences. What resulted was a live, interactive event with hugely influential people that felt “more like an in-person event” than a socially distanced snore-athon.



So what can the rest of us learn from Jose Cuervo and how might we build Discord into our own marketing mix?

First of all, we need to be clear that Discord is an Audience channel. It is probably the most “audience” channel of all the audience channels because of the way it’s been created and curated over the last few years. Remember, Discord does not do ads!

That means it’s defensive in its nature; it’s designed to build a tribe of custodians around your brand, rather than selling to customers.

Why is playing defence important for brands? Because attackers win you games; defenders win you Championships. Building a loyal fan base of brand custodians is an investment in the long-term success of your business.

And, by the way, if your competitors are just pushing their sales messages on a largely disenfranchised or disloyal customer base, a Counter-Attacking tactical approach that pulls those same customers in, opening up easier opportunities to sell later on is the perfect way to disrupt the market.

Why? Because, incentivised correctly, brand tribes provide a source of product feedback, social proof, user-generated content, and word-of-mouth marketing for your company. It caters to the fifth and final part of the customer journey – advocacy. And because advocacy cannot be bought, it is the most valuable part of the marketing mix.

Jose Cuervo ticked all of the above boxes brilliantly. The use of influencers built social proof, the live feedback from customers provided insight into how people like to use their product, a call to action that asked community members to mix-along and share their own concoctions provided UGC and increased viral word of mouth.

As is always the case with new platforms, the risk exists that you could put a load of effort into building your presence, only for it to fall by the wayside. However, if it takes off in the way that other social platforms have and you’re an early adopter, the rewards are considerable. And remember, if your competitors are already killing it on the other socials, why bring a knife to a gun fight? Find your own battle ground and get to know the terrain before others can.

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