“This is a place friendly to thought, relationships, arguments, and to those that wish to challenge those genres.”
On a brief glance, reddit may seem to be nothing more than a collection of random links, ranging from pictures of cute animals to breakthroughs in technology and science. The experience of reddit radically changes as lurkers/browsers create accounts and begin customizing their feeds. If cute animal pictures bore us we only need to unsubscribe. If we only want to see web dev & design information we can create a feed comprised of only those topics (subreddits).
Comments become re-imagined across subreddits, where different criteria and norms are expected. For example, comments in /r/outside discuss the world/life as if it were an MMORPG while comments in /r/photoshopbattles contain links to photoshopped images of one initially submitted image.
Flair, reddit’s tagging system, allow subreddits to organize links better. For example, the popular /r/askscience subreddit spans all of the sciences which is much too broad. Flair is required to help users find the topics they are more knowledgeable about:
We’ve only scratched the surface of the ‘reddit experience’ but this is, in my opinion, the number one reason why marketers fail on reddit.
They need to at least embrace what redditting is about; the value, time and effort redditors invest into their preferred subreddits, the punny nature of many threads, that self-deprecating humor goes a long way, that engaging in a battle of wits is respectable and witch-hunting is not.
It’s not something that can really be taught in just a few minutes.
Just getting comfortable having discussions in different subreddits takes some getting used to. With anonymity comes a lack of fear, and with lack of fear comes freer thought. If someone disagrees with you they’ll gladly take to debate. Some are mature enough to have a healthy debate while others will resort to a more malicious tongue. We can avoid these dreaded scenarios and backlash.
The goal is to develop an accurate insight on what type of language, humor, writing style, media, and overall content performs well.
Brands and celebrities come to reddit, promoting new movies, books, music, campaigns, products, and more. Sometimes a small business or artisan crafts-person gets lucky and their work is organically promoted, resulting in a massive traffic spike known as the “reddit hug of death”, inevitably overloading servers.
Marketers must tread a fine line between blatantly promoting a product and submitting content that has little business value. For example, a meme or a cute animal picture might hit the front page but neither will convert traffic into customers. In fact, most of the entertaining media on reddit is restricted to being hosted on Imgur, so it’s rare to find something hosted on original domains aside from webcomics and news. But don’t lose hope, there still remain many avenues – we just need a fitting topic. For instance, an infographic visualizing the relationship between drug abuse and unemployment has much more topical appeal in reddit communities than a funny tweet from a social media savvy brand. This is more or less the case.
The officially recommended space for submitting anything promotional in nature is through a self-serve ad. Just like we’d pay to increase our reach on Facebook or Twitter, the same goes for reddit. This actually leaves marketers with a lot of room for creativity – there are many examples of brands that have taken different approaches and continue to do so.
In fact, just recently my coworkers came up with a neat idea for a way to display statistic counters for every popular social network and media service. This was discovered and shared on reddit with little pre-promotion and at the time of this writing the post is sitting snugly at #10 on the frontpage of reddit. Here’s what our Google Analytics shows:
A custom traffic forecast shows we’ll eclipse 100,000 referrals from reddit; however, we must keep a few things in mind. First of all, even though this traffic is free and bountiful, we decided it best to omit any type of funnel. No pop-ups, no sidebar or call-to-actions, nothing. And that’s because our focus was not conversions – it was branding. We were ready to be agile in managing the popularity of the content. We’re leveraging the social proof – “look! people like it!” – in feature outreach. In turn, we hope to earn additional branding, recognition, and referrals. While we don’t expect much of that 78,000+ traffic from reddit to convert, we can now plan accordingly and add-in a relevant conversion funnel.
Since every company will have different goals and needs, it shouldn’t be unrealistic to imagine a situation where a page simultaneously entertains and converts.
Let’s take a look at a few of the approaches to marketing on reddit:
Nissan’s goal was branding and their tactic was giving. They created a post where redditors made suggestions about what they would do with a huge Amazon box and the Nissan Community-Management team whipped up doodles for the popular ideas.
Additionally, they gave away 30 months of reddit gold, along with a couple dozen assorted items that redditors wished for, ranging from smartphones and video games to clothes and books.
Newcastle Brown Ale could not make the cut for a Super Bowl ad resulting in more budget for social network campaigns, reddit being among them. With similar goals as Nissan, they used humor and fun writing prompts to engage redditors and get them thinking about creative ways to advertise Newcastle’s brews. This is an effective way to shamelessly spark discussions about a brand.
The Economist tapped reddit for ideas on which products to brand/pair well with their readers. This resulted in a mix of interesting, funny, and legitimately helpful products that align with Economist readers and, similar to Newcastle, this got redditors thinking about their Brand in creative ways.
Types of content that could be discovered and perform well on reddit:
- Breaking News
- Niche Collections
One of the ideas I hope to convey is this: the more you naturally involve yourself in subreddits the better a grasp you’ll have for the type of content that performs well.
From the four years I’ve spent redditting I can tell you most active redditors really do appreciate content that is valuable in nature – regardless of whether it’s subtly promotional or not. Share your stories and tips from the trade, your qualms with the industry, vent your frustrations with laws impacting your business, and make your replies just as valuable and thoughtful as your submissions.