Reddit refers to itself as the “Front page of the internet.” For a good reason too – because these days it practically is. The front page of the website can be a good indication of all of the top viral stories on the internet at any given time. The websiite, however, comes with a unique culture that can make or break businesses.
It’s not always a good idea to market your business on Reddit and the community has a love-hate relationship with self promotion. There are a variety of stealth marketing techniques that can be effectively employed on Reddit, but in general your best chance of acceptance is to integrate yourself within the various communities (Subreddits) and be honest and up front when promoting yourself.
According to Alexa, Reddit is the 44th most popular website on the web, the 12th most popular in the United States and has grown rapidly over the course of the last two years.
Reddit is capable of delivering huge amounts of traffic to your website in a very short amount of time. Sometimes tens of thousands of visits in a few short hours.
But, in order to market yourself and your brand responsibly on Reddit, you need to have a solid understanding of the community, the way that the website works, and how it came to be so popular.
Reddit is a fickle beast at times. Understanding Reddit as a whole can also be different than understanding their subcommittees (known as subreddits) that are the heart and sole of the website and most Reddit marketing operations.
In order to gain an understanding of Reddit, you have to understand its roots and how the website started.
The Beginnings of Reddit
When Reddit started, it wasn’t much different than it is today. The content that was shared on the platform was more hacker and tech centric, with a lot of underground tech and information being shared to the front page. In the beginning, Reddit was a bit of a programming hub – filled with legitimate programmers, script kiddies, and everyone that falls under that very broad umbrella.
The website stayed mostly small in the early going, but had a very loyal following behind it. At the time, their biggest competitor was Digg. As Digg began to fail, many users began to leave Digg for the safer, more community-focused safe haven that Reddit became.
In the early days of Digg, the website was not all that much different from Reddit. The site served as a bookmarking service, with the webs most popular content reaching the front page. Eventually, the Digg staff started to make changes to the website that were not well-received by the community. They wanted a website where they could better segment themselves by interests and Digg was moving in the opposite direction.
Enter Reddit. In the beginning they weren’t much of a competitor. But, when the website launched their subcommunities – subreddits – they began to become a safe haven for disillusioned Digg users.
As Digg continued to make changes that inhibited their users ability to effectively ccongregatein the way that they hoped, Reddit filled the void that many Digg users were looking for. A huge portion of the community left Digg for Reddit, and the rest is history.
Short Attention Spans
By the very nature of the website – Reddit users have very short attention spans. They are constantly clicking from one piece of content to the next. So while you might have a huge flood of traffic from a reddit submission – don’t expect that traffic to be exceptionally valuable. The bounce rate will be high. They will spend very little time on the site on average, and aren’t too likely to interact. Those few good visits you do receive though could potentially be worth their weight in gold.
The Frontpage and SubReddits
Reddit is comprised of many different sections. Each section serves a specific purpose. It might be based on specific interests, or just be a place to house funny pictures or something similar.
The front page of reddit is a collection of all of the top submissions in the “default” subreddits. These are subreddits that are generally non-controversial in nature and usually feature interesting, funny, or cute content. Some of the more popular default subreddits that are included on the frontpage include;
The default subreddits are able to generate the most traffic. Ending up on the front page can mean hundreds of thousands of visits to your website in the span of a few short hours. However – it is very difficult to reach the top of these subreddits, and you have to ensure that you are providing content that actually is relevant to the Subreddit. You would probably have to create content or marketing materials that were specifically designed for that audience and even then your chances of making it to the top of those subreddits is slim. In general, these are not the best locations to choose to attempt to market within. Trying to self-promote in these Subreddits will give you a swift kick to banned-land. Your efforts will be much easier to pass off and more likely.
Subreddits are smaller, more specific sections of the website. There are hundreds of thousands of different subreddits. Most are created by users, allowing them to segment themselves off into separate communities. Some are heavily moderated, others are not. They might have their own specific rules that need to be taken into account when posting within those sections.
A few examples of popular, non-default subreddits include;
There are almost an unlimited number of Subreddits out there. Some are active with hundreds of daily posts, others not so much. Identifying the different subreddits that you will be targeting will be especially important for your marketing efforts. If you are within a niche that is even remotely popular – you’ll likely find a dozen different Subreddits to match.
Your Account and Upvoting
To get started, you need to create your Reddit account. Unlike other websites, Reddit does not require that you use a verified email account when creating your account but you might choose to use one for account recovery purposes.
Your account profile might look like this;
Take a look at the numbers under the account name. Both link karma and comment karma are good indications of how popular a given account is.
Every time that you submit a piece of content, the number of upvotes and downvotes for that submission are tracked.
This gives you a way to measure your success with each different submission.
Some subreddits may require that you have a set amount of Karma in order to post on that given Subreddit.
When creating your username, be sure to choose wisely. This will be the username that represents you and your brand moving forward. You need to make sure that you choose a username that is both easily recognizable and memorable. Remember that you do not necessarily have to register your user name as your brand name and in many instances – you might want to avoid making it clear that you are self promoting.
The demographics of Reddit are not unlike many other popular websites. They are young, mostly male, and fairly well educate. Many of their users are actually in college, particularly among those that view the front page. Males make up approximately 65% of the user base, which might not be as high as you thought.
Since most Reddit users are young or in school, the income of the average user is quite low. But – it is an excellent audience to target for the right product. Roughly 75% of users have an income level of 0-50k per year. For businesses that sell luxury products, Reddit is not likely to be your target audience and you may want to look to other sources. It can still be a great source for generating attention for your product – especially if it is something that has potential to collect information virally.
Because a large majority of the website is visited by individuals in the United States it is best to ensure that your marketing efforts are posted during times when traffic will be heavy. Target times before work, after work, and before bed for both the East Coast and West Coast.
Connecting to the Community
Reddit is not a website that is easy to game. Users will actively seek out individuals attempting to market their products to them and call them out. They do not take kindly to self promotion and the moderation teams have a lot of tools for detecting upvoting rings – and they use them to their advantage, even in the smallest of subreddits.
The key is to ingrain yourself within the community and offer honest value that they will find intriguing. Finding unique ways to plug your product without seemingly overly promotional will be your best friend throughout the process.
Niches That Do Well on Reddit
Certain niches are much easier to promote on Reddit than others. Some of the types of content that you should be looking to share might include;
- Funny content
- Heartwarming stories
- Photography and pop-culture influenced art
- Gaming related content
Organic Usage of Reddit
The best way to connect to the community and gain an understanding of what content does well there is to sign up and begin using the website yourself. You might just find that you really enjoy it and stick around. The best long term marketing efforts are those that are organic based in their nature and genuinely an attempt to contribute to the community
Offer value. You can offer to answer questions or provide information to users regarding your business, specifically when you are dealing with subreddits in the business category.
Instead of trying to promote your product, you might want to turn your experience into an AMA (Ask Me Anything) or case study on the subject and then share that case study in the /r/entrepreneur and /r/startups and other similar Subreddits.
It is imporant to make the distinction between posting with links, and posting as a text post.
If you take a look back at the user profile at the beginning of the article, you can see that the distinction is made between link karma (link submission upvotes) and comment karma (comment upvotes). Sometimes, it is better to post your content as a text post and include the link within the text. This shows that you have made a genuine attempt to contribute, without solely posting your link for promotional purposes.
Anonymous vs. Open
When submitting to Reddit – you have two options. You can pose as an individual that is disconnected from your product, but it is difficult to keep this facade up for long. Remember – users can look through your entire submission history, so submitting information about your product multiple times is certain to be discovered and create some red flags. Additionally – creating multiple accounts in order to remain anonymous that are connected to the same IP can get your site banned from being mentioned on the website altogether.
Some businesses choose to take an open approach. They acknowledge that they are connected to a brand, and embrace that by providing value to the community with a small amount of self-promotion on the side. This is the best long term strategy for most businesses – but everyone has different goals.
No matter what – you will have a lot more success if you use your account to contribute to the community outside of your marketing efforts as well, posting links to your website only sparingly.
Make use of different subreddits and try to create a presence on those communities. An iron-clad reputation within the smaller communities can make self promotion much easier for you in the long term. Eventually – people will take notice and raise concerns, though. This is inevitable.
Reddit also offers an advertising system. In my experience, the advertising system delivers low CTR on a CPM model, and can make it difficult to run an effective campaign. All ads are annotated as “sponsored links” and a large portion of the user base actually uses AdBlock, which hides the ads form them completely.
The ad system allows you to target users by Subreddit, since Reddit does not collect any demographic information in their user profiles. You can also target the entire user base using site-wide links which will create a larger pool of traffic but will be much more difficult to run a cost effective campaign.
When you have the right product, Reddit advertising can be an excellent solution. But, that success is completely dependent upon the product and the ad copy.
It is a particularly effective tool for startups that are more interested in growing their user numbers without much regard for a return on that advertising spend.
Reddit is an interesting and strange beast. The potential benefits are huge, but it certainly is not an avenue that could be beneficial for every business. After spending a few days browsing the front page and applicable subreddits you should be able to tell whether or not your product or website would be of interest to the community.
The key to marketing your product on Reddit is creativity. You have to find ways to create value outside of your product alone, and use that value to interact with the community and win their support. the best way to market on Reddit is to make it seem like you aren’t marketing – you are contributing. You’ll find that the userbase is acceptably skeptical of self promotion in any form, but when you win over the users of a specific Reddit you may have won the crowd over for the lifetime of your product.
More than anything – value and being interesting are what wins on Reddit. It is a website and userbase unlike any other on the Internet, and as a result it needs to be approached differently than you would approach your efforts on any other website.