With 234 million monthly active users, Reddit, the self-described “front page of the internet,” is a fantastic place for learning more about your audience. Users are candid, casual and willing to share on Alexa’s 9th ranked website in the world. But as a marketer, what is the proper way to engage on Reddit (and should you)?
Quick Overview: Reddit is a forum-based social network that allows any user to post content of various formats (links, images, videos, text and more) to forums for different topics called subreddits.
How it Works: Other users can vote up or down content—the content with the most positive votes moves to the front pages. Most of the content you see on the homepage of Reddit appeared within the last few hours, rarely more than the last few days. These stories are often the hottest trends across the Internet, and may emerge as hot, new, rising or controversial in the hours, days, or even weeks before they make mainstream news.
Who Uses It? Reddit’s audience skews male (67%) and also targets the always-elusive Millennial and Gen Z demo, with 64% of all users under the age of 30.
But, as with any social network, a dive-right-in approach won’t be successful. Here are ways marketers can glean insight, drive traffic, and succeed as a marketer on Reddit:
Redditors, as users are called, often find themselves falling down a rabbit hole. That’s ok! Don’t be afraid to dive deep here; the best results will come from the right, targeted audience. Reddit has more than 70,000 active communities. That means there are possibly dozens of subreddits that appeal to different personas within your market.
Maker’s Mark, a bourbon brand, created the campaign “Let it Snoo” in 2013, a play on the name of Reddit’s mascot, Snoo. Reddit users are constantly creating jokes within the threads, and this was no exception. A few months later, Maker’s Mark followed that campaign with a Kentucky Derby horse naming “contest.” They asked Reddit users to come up with Reddit or Whiskey related names for a horse in the Kentucky Derby, with users submitting names like “No woman, No Rye”, “Maple Stirrup” and “Kentucky Derpy”. They even played homage to the Kentucky Derby drink of choice, the Mint Julep, with their own Mint Snoolep recipe. Maker’s Mark understood their audience within the Reddit communities and leveraged that to create their own successful—and humorous—campaigns.
Most successful Reddit content is created or posted by individuals, not by brands, and that means when you create branded content, it needs to be specifically targeted to appeal to Reddit’s audience. Music streaming website Spotify, for example, created a thread that asked users what emotions different types of music sparked when they listened. The thread garnered more than 2,300 comments, 450 brand mentions, and 10,000+ submissions. In this case, a user could have created the post – it just happened to come from a brand.
Nissan took a similar tactic in 2014, asking users what they’d most wish to have delivered from Amazon. Two community managers at the brand who were already active in the Reddit community started the thread. The thread took off, and users were thrilled when they discovered that their requested items were actually being delivered. It came as no surprise that the highlight of the campaign occurred when one user had a Nissan delivered to their house, in (you guessed it) a giant Amazon box. The entire event was captured on video, and the campaign—a promo for Nissan’s Versa Note—can be counted a smashing success.
Watching and observing what trends on Reddit, and on various subreddits, is a great way to keep the finger on the pulse of your industry, as well as to source viral videos, trends, and memes that might work well on other social channels. It’s perfectly ok to “lurk” or watch on Reddit, rather than to engage directly. In fact, brands should be encouraged to lurk before they leap, learning the etiquette and types of posts that perform well in their niche before diving in.
However, if you do engage, do so with caution. Reddit makes it easy for users to see where another user is active—your “profile” is a listing of past threads where you have been active, and users can send “karma” or “gold”(for premium members) to users whom they find to be particularly interesting or helpful. If you’re creating content frequently, consider signing up for a publisher account.
As a poster responsible for maintaining a brand, it’s important that you engage regularly within your area of expertise, rather than simply posting on behalf of your brand, or your marketing tactics will ring hollow. The more you engage, the stronger your account is considered. Be sure you read Reddit’s content policy and Reddiquette. After all, you can’t be an effective brand on Reddit if you get yourself banned.
Adam & Eve got Reddit users talking about their brand with a live Q&A with the company’s sexologist, Dr. Kat. The thread was so popular, Dr. Kat went back to Reddit for another Q&A a few months later. The brand centered the Q&A on the advice of a sex health professional rather than pushing their products. This wise decision pushed the brand in a stealth manner AND built an interested following on Reddit.
Reddit is an ideal place for brands to gather honest and immediate feedback. Beware; this could be a negative or positive discussion of your brand, particularly if you opt to try the candid AMA (Ask Me Anything) option. Nissan, which previously had great success on the brand, ran into an angry horde of Redditors when they were accused of planting questions from employees during an AMA with the CEO.
Your queries may also give you insight into a competitor’s product or business helping you understand why your brand is suffering, or beating, your competitor. It’s also a great way to determine what is resonating with your client base.
When United Airlines removed a passenger from an overbooked flight, the original video was on the front page of Reddit within hours. Twitter, and the rest of the social-sphere, took much longer. Had United monitored the backlash on Reddit, they may have chosen to take a different tone with their PR response, and eliminated some of the headaches that came later.
Just because Reddit is a pretty good indicator of what will BE a trend, doesn’t mean your content needs to be trendy. Reddit might turn you into a trend. In the case of United, this was a trend their PR team most certainly did not want. However, a savvy marketer can see when a subject relevant to their business is starting to become a hot topic and can use this as their foot in the door, boosting traffic, conversions, or brand mentions via the front page of Reddit in no time.
Reddit is full of passionate people. These passionate people are exactly who you want to connect with, and they may become a powerful influencer for your brand. Add to conversations on threads—yours or other—and watch users, even engage with users, who might help push you forward. People come to Reddit to share their stories and experiences on a specific subject – if you add to that conversation in a meaningful way, you might find you have a new loyal group of brand followers.