3 Things You Need to Know about Marketing on Reddit

Reddit refers to itself as the front page of the Internet. It’s a veritable goldmine for a marketer who knows how to leverage it. The trouble is, most don’t. They treat Reddit as no different from Facebook or Twitter. Here’s how to avoid making the same mistake. 

Billing itself as the front page of the Internet, Reddit is one of the largest user-driven sites on the web. According to Alexa, an analytics firm owned and operated by Amazon, it currently ranks #13 in global engagement. The site’s user base primarily consists of younger,  tech-savvy individuals, most of whom are at least college-educated. 

Owing to both its size and its demographic, this makes Reddit something of a cornerstone of Internet culture. Whether a meme, a news article, or an engaging story, Reddit’s most popular posts rarely remain solely on site. They almost inevitably go viral and are shared across the entire web as a result.

The marketer in you is probably already salivating at the thought. After all, you know full well the value of viral content. You’ve seen what an immense volume of social shares can do for a brand.  At this point, you’re probably wondering how you can tap into that immense power for your own marketing efforts.

Let’s talk about that. I’m going to go over the three core tenets of a successful Reddit marketing strategy: genuine participation, sponsored content, and an understanding of the rules.

Keep those in mind, and you’ll do just fine. 

Participate. Engage. Network. 

One of the most important things to know about Reddit is that its users have very little patience for anyone who’s just there to sell them something.  Trying to approach Reddit as some kind of marketplace or free advertising medium is brand suicide. If your first step after creating a Reddit account is to go for the hard sell, you will fail. 

Astroturfing, trying to mask marketing copy as something organic, is even worse. Especially on Reddit, people are very good at sniffing out dishonesty; there are even entire subreddits dedicated to it. As is often the case, your best bet is to shoot for honesty and authenticity.

To be a Reddit user first and a marketer second. 

Your first step is to figure out the subreddits your users are likely to participate in. Try to find niche subreddits related to specific interests. Larger, more general communities like r/funny and r/aww are great places to learn the ropes of Reddit and establish yourself, but you aren’t likely to achieve much brand outreach there. 

To get started, I’d recommend following the process outlined below. 

  • Create an account and familiarize yourself with how Reddit works. Lifehacker’s Michael Franco published a great beginner’s guide I’d recommend you take a look at.
  • Do a few subreddit searches based on what you know about your audience already. Your goal is to build out an initial feed of at least five or 10 subreddits in addition to the ones Reddit subscribes you to by default. 
  • Install a tool like TrackReddit to send alerts and notifications about keywords and phrases you’ve identified as relevant to your brand. Where relevant, reach out directly to users with either assistance or thanks. 
  • Start posting and participating in those communities, but don’t try to force it, and do not solely post content directly related to your brand. Again, your goal here is to be part of the community first and foremost. If you have any kind of relevant expertise, share it honestly and openly. 
  • As you start gaining a following on Reddit, you can start engaging in more direct marketing. Run a contest, host a Q&A session, create your own subreddits, and so on. 

Leverage Sponsored Content Properly

Reddit actually provides advertising to business users. Sponsored posts are targeted at specific subreddits, and may also be displayed on Reddit’s front page. You may have also noticed display ads during your time using the site.

Generally, my recommendation is to avoid trying to leverage them. For one, they tend to be significantly more expensive than regular sponsored posts. Also, Reddit’s audience tends to be fairly tech-savvy.

That means they’re likely schooled on the sorry state of ad networks. Consequently, they probably have ad-blocking software installed. In other words, if you’re trying to leverage sidebar ads, there’s a good chance you might not even reach your target audience. 

Now let’s talk about how you can get started. I’ll be referencing this guide written by marketing consultant and SEO specialist Nate Shivar. I’d recommend giving it a read when you get the chance. 

  •  As your first step, create a new account to run sponsored ads. Generally speaking, it’s better to keep your paid marketing efforts separate from your organic ones, particularly if you’re following my advice from the previous step. Your username should in some way tie back to your brand name, but otherwise, you have a lot of freedom in terms of how it looks. 
  • Next, you’ll want to figure out what subreddits to target. Try to stay away from any communities that are too small, too general, or inactive. Take a look at the online users for each subreddit before you decide to target it. If there are fewer than 50, you might want to consider looking elsewhere.
  • Finally, once you’ve compiled a list of subreddits you think would make good marketing targets, it’s time to create your advertising content. Leverage your understanding of Reddit and how it works when creating this ad. Be honest, authentic, and transparent with what you offer and why people might be interested in your products and services.

As noted by Shivar, possibilities for ad content include:

  • A contest or giveaway
  • Genuinely interesting content — a blog post, a white paper, an interview, a video, etc.
  • A one-off promotion targeted directly at Reddit users
  • A request for feedback on a new product or service

Whichever content type you choose, you’ll want to ensure people are directed to a page whose traffic you’re able to track and monitor in Google Analytics. What’s more, that page needs to be mobile-friendly, especially if you’re running an ad through Reddit’s mobile app. And last but certainly not least, since Reddit is all about conversation and community, make sure comments are enabled on your sponsored posts.

If you have any questions or comments about advertising on Reddit – or simply need a bit of guidance – you can subscribe to r/redditads

Read The Rules. Seriously.

Reddit maintains a fairly blog-standard set of content and behavioral guidelines. They’re more or less what you might expect of a social network. Don’t post illegal content, don’t harass people, don’t post someone’s personal information.

You get the idea. For the most part, as long as you’re a decent person, it shouldn’t be difficult to follow the rules. That said, there are a few nuances around spam that you should be aware of. 

Per Reddit Help, the site defines spam in the following terms:

  • Sending large volumes of private, promotional messages to users who have not contacted you and to whom you have no prior connection. 
  • Repeatedly posting similar or identical submissions across multiple subreddits.
  • Repeatedly posting the same comment across multiple subreddits or submissions. 
  • Linking to malicious third-party content. 
  • Exclusively submitting content that directs users to your own website.
  • Submitting content that engages in deceptive linking practices. Sidebar ads are obviously an exception to this rule. 

In addition to the guidelines described above, each individual subreddit also maintains its own set of rules. Understand them and adhere to them. While you aren’t likely to suffer a site-wide punishment for failing to follow a sub’s guidelines, you can end up banned from that sub. 

Conclusion

Reddit can be an extremely powerful tool for marketing and advertising, but only if you understand how it works — only if you know how to leverage it for your brand. Most businesses don’t. At best, they approach Reddit in the same way they’d approach another social network like Facebook or Twitter.

At worst, they treat it as little more than an ad network or selling platform. 

Maybe it seems a bit counterintuitive, but the best way to use Reddit to sell your brand is to avoid acting like a salesperson in the first place. Be a user first and foremost. Not only will that give you a better understanding of how Reddit works from a marketing perspective, but you might also find that you enjoy using it casually. 

After all, 330 million people can’t be wrong, right?

Daniel Page is the Director of Business Development for ASEOHosting, a leading provider in SEO hosting and multiple IP hosting.

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