The marketer's guide to Reddit

Alina Gorbatch
by Alina Gorbatch on March 21, 2018

Reddit is the front page of the Internet. More precisely, it’s the perfect summary of what the Internet is. If one day you meet a person who has absolutely no understanding of what the online world incorporates, it’s enough to show them Reddit to give a solid idea. Reddit is a news source, a social network, an educational and sharing platform, a place that generates slang and memes. It shows what’s viral, what’s popular, and what’s evergreen. It starts activist and fundraising campaigns, hosts open discussions, and gives home to funniest dog photos. Reddit is where content becomes viral before other networks discover it, where celebrities, presidents, and people with unique experience open up and allow users to “Ask them Anything”.

It’s the place to be.  

Usage and demographics

As of February 2018, Reddit has 234 million unique users. It’s the fourth most visited website in the U.S. and #6 in the world, according to Alexa. 57.4% of its user base is coming from the United States, followed by the United Kingdom at 7.5% and Canada at 6.3%. This is important to know, as the majority of users of other major sites (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube) come outside of the United States. Reddit users tend to be young, male, and to self-identify as liberal at higher rates than the overall public. According to Pew Research Center, as of 2016, 67% of Reddit users are men, 64% are between the ages of 18 and 29, 42% have college degrees, and 35% earn $75k or more. 

Site structure

The site is a collection of entries submitted by its registered users in a form of a bulletin board system. Users upvote a post if they find it interesting and downvote if not. If upvoted, the post goes higher up on the board, and it goes down if downvoted. Users can also comment on the post, which starts lengthy discussions. Comments are also up- and downvoted.

The site is divided into categories, or subreddits, such as /r/news, /r/funny, /r/TooAfraidToAsk, /r/science, /r/todayilearned, etc. As of May 2016, there were over 11,400 active subreddits. Notable examples include /r/changemyview - a forum for discussing various topics for the purpose of understanding opposing viewpoints; /r/all, which doesn't filter controversial topics; /r/showerthoughts - a subreddit introduced by the Glamour magazine for the purpose of sharing anything that goes on in your head whilst in the shower. 

Rules (relevant to marketers)

Reddit and Marketing

It’s a rare marketer that doesn’t dream of promoting their product on Reddit. With its huge user base, clear feed algorithm (as opposed to Facebook’s), and active discussions on pretty much every subject on Earth, it’s the perfect platform. When a product is discovered on Reddit, the traffic is guaranteed. There’s even such thing as the "Reddit effect", also known as the "Slashdot effect" and the "Reddit Hug of Death". It occurs when a smaller website has a high influx of traffic after being linked to on Reddit. Because Reddit is such a large site, the traffic coming from it is immense and often crashes smaller sites. 

The problem is, of course, that you can’t promote on Reddit. Redditors and moderators ban for self-promotion and for submitting a lot of links very quickly. You’ll be flagged as a spammer in no time if the community suspects you’re there for getting traffic. And it’s really easy to catch you, because all your activity is visible by other users. There's even a subreddit, r/HailCorporate, that shows how much redditors hate self-promotion. I genuinely hope you will never end up mentioned there. 

And yet it’s not all lost when it comes to businesses on Reddit. Let’s see how you can earn traffic with the most engaging website on the Internet.

1. Advertise

While paid advertising on Facebook and Twitter is something every business tried out at some point of their existence, and either stuck with it or didn’t, Reddit is usually left out from such experiments. And that’s a shame.

Paying for ads is the safest form of promoting your products on Reddit. You can target people based on the subreddits they've subscribed to, which means targeting very relevant, passionate, and sometimes extremely niche groups of people. 

Reddit advertising operates on a cost-per-impression (CPM) basis rather than cost-per-click (CPC). However, advertising on Reddit might be very successful - I definitely recommend giving it a try. 

2. Monitor Reddit for mentions of your brand and your competitors

Subreddits are as diverse as it gets. Whether you’re in the ice cream or SEO business, it’s most likely that your industry is discussed somewhere on Reddit. If there are complaints and questions about your business, consider answering them. Don’t forget to put a disclaimer that you work for the company. Same can work with negative mentions of your competitor. Comment to a complaint and suggest your brand as an alternative. However, be honest and humble: forget about standard promotional writing, and think about bringing the most value to the readers. Join the discussion, answer questions and comments that come from other people. Obviously, don’t be arrogant or pushy - that won’t help you even slightly but you might get banned. 

3. Submit deals

As much as redditors dislike marketers, they still shop. And they value deals like anyone else. So there’s not only /r/deals/ subreddit, but also subreddits specifically for book deals, game deals, laptop deals, HomeDecor deals, and other popular ones. See if any of these subreddits would be relevant for you and tell them about your deal. It’s free, after all. 

4. Tell about your experience

If you’re an entrepreneur or a founder of an exciting start-up, or if your business went through some struggles and experiences that are worth telling about - go on, tell the redditors! It shouldn’t be an ad for your business - it should be an exciting, authentic story that might lead to people checking out your business. 

As you might’ve figured out by now, there are subreddits for entrepreneurs, startuppers, and all other relevant figures. 

You could also do an AmA (Ask me Anything) session with Reddit users. You don’t have to be a celebrity for that, however, simply stating “I’m the owner of brand X, ask me anything” won’t work the same way it does for Apple and Microsoft, obviously. Instead, tell a sentence about your brand or yourself that states your brand’s uniqueness or value. For example, “I founded a theatre for autistic kids” will attract question from a whole range of people and might make the place popular, get online coverage, attract donors, and so on.

That's what it looks like:

5. Follow the trends & curate content

Reddit is the place where Internet trends are born. If you want your social media pages to be full of fun and hot content, it’s essential to monitor what’s on Reddit. Fresh memes, breaking news, discoveries - you’ll know everything before anyone else. Find the subreddits that are relevant to your brand, and share stories that you find interesting or useful to your readers. Don’t forget to give credits to the authors. 

6. Do market research

Subreddits of your industry might not have your brand mentioned, and they might discuss your competitors in a way that doesn’t allow any intervention. However, simply going through these discussions might be useful. Reddit’s active population is nerdy, thorough, and clever: they’ll be sure to discuss everything about the products that affects customers. 

7. Have fun

Sure, you’re not here for fun. You’ve got a budget, a goal, and a dream, and all of them are about promoting your product. But in order to be part of Reddit community and start talking about your product, you’ll have to immerse in the world of Reddit. To do that:

1. Set up an account - it’s as straightforward as anywhere else.
2. Choose subreddits that are genuinely interesting to you and subreddits that are relevant to your brand (hopefully, some will cover both). For example, check out /r/DigitalMarketing/r/Entrepreneur/r/AskMarketing/r/socmemarketing/r/socialmedia
3. Spend a month engaging in discussions, posting your own cool content, and, well, having fun. There’s a massive amount of content on Reddit - it’s definite that you’ll find something you enjoy talking about. This way you'll build up your "karma" - something you get for posting and commenting. The more you have, the higher up are your posts.
4. After you’ve figured out the people, the language, the unspoken traditions of Reddit - start with the actionable tips above. 

Good luck and let me know how it goes in the comment section!

P.S. Awario will start monitoring mentions from Reddit in the nearest future. We'll let you know as soon as it happens. 

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