The 6 Dos and Don'ts of Reddit Marketing

It’s 2014. Every company worth its salt has a LinkedIn, Facebook page, Twitter account, and maybe a Pinterest or Instagram if they’re especially trendy. However, there are still social networks with hundreds of millions of users that are fairly untapped by web marketers. Reddit, an online bulletin board-esque website, is one of these networks.

As the 54th most popular website in the world with billions of page views, Reddit, if used correctly, can bring significant awareness, traffic, and even revenue to your website. Moreover, you can interact with customers, perform market research, and gain consumer insight. However, the site can be difficult to understand, as it has developed into its own community and culture. If you’re not sure if Reddit marketing is good for your company, give it a glance and see if it’s right for you. To help you understand the basics of Reddit marketing, we’ve come up with a list of Dos and Don’ts to help you use Reddit to its full potential.

So what exactly is Reddit?

Reddit describes itself as the “front page of the internet.” Essentially, it is a link curation page, where users (known as redditors) submit videos, images, and links to websites across the internet. The users then upvote or downvote these submissions, with highly upvoted links appearing on the front page of Reddit, gaining thousands of views and comments.

Reddit is divided into “subreddits,” which are smaller, topically focused pages where users submit content specifically targeted at the subreddit’s category. These can range from extremely popular, wide reaching subreddits such as movies and Today I Learned (focused on posting new, interesting facts) to more niche topics such as Build A PC or Ask Historians. If used correctly, Reddit can be an invaluable tool to web marketers, as it is an excellent source of feedback and insight into market trends, and a successful post can lead to traffic increasing by thousands of visitors. The following is a list of dos and don’ts of using Reddit as a marketing tool.

Do: Understand Reddit

Reddit is a community of nearly three million users, and just like any community, they’ve developed a set of both written and unwritten rules. Without fundamentally understanding how redditors interact with the rest of the internet, as well as each other, your marketing is likely to fail. So don’t be afraid to lurk! Make an account, subscribe to the subreddits you find interesting, and spend some time exploring the site. You’ll learn how to better interact with redditors, and you’ll be able to see the patterns of popular content. Secondly, understand reddiquette (a portmanteau of reddit+ettiquette). Not following the basic rules and guidelines of the site is the easiest way to invite backlash against your company or product. Finally, explore and decide which subreddits are related to your company. You won’t get very far posting a progamming app in the makeup subreddit, but a post in Programming or Android could be incredibly successful.

Do: Offer Compelling Content

It might seem obvious, but the best way to use Reddit successfully is to submit interesting, engaging content. Infographics, blog posts, interviews, and reports that offer humor, new information, or compelling opinions will bring viewers to your site, increase positive brand awareness, and create goodwill towards your site or company. Content can come in many forms, not just links. One of the most popular subreddits is AMA, which stand for Ask Me Anything. Anyone with an interesting story, perspective, or knowledge can be interviewed by the reddit community. Some of the most successful AMA’s of all time include people as varied as Ken Jennings, Bill Gates, and Snoop Dogg. The one thing in common with every popular AMA is that, regardless of whether or not the interviewee is promoting something, they took time to interact meaningfully with users and craft well-thought out, interesting answers. An AMA can help with visibility and image just as much as linking content.

Don’t: Be Disingenuous

On the other hand, an unsuccessful AMA can bring significant backlash upon the interviewee and what he or she represents. Perhaps the most famous example of this is Woody Harrelson, who only answered questions pertaining to his new movie, and would answer unrelated questions with information about the movie. Another example is Morgan Freeman, whose answers were short, uninvolved, and suspected to be the work of a press agent instead of the actor himself. The takeaway from this? If you are taking the time to interact with the Reddit community, make sure you’re honest, thoughtful, and genuine, otherwise your publicity efforts will backfire.

Do: Create Content Specifically for Reddit

Redditors love to feel special. There’s no better way to earn the love of Reddit than by creating something that acts as acknowledgement for the users of the site. Whether this is a simple video or link thanking them for letting you do an AMA, a “reddit discount” for an item, or an infographic or post made specifically for a certain subreddit, custom content will endear any marketing to reddit. One of the most famous examples of this is when a user, reading an angry post about the cost of beef jerky, created a Reddit discount for his parents’ jerky company, and netted nearly $25,000 in sales in a weekend. If redditors feel that you are doing them a favor by posting and submitting, they will be significantly more receptive to any marketing initiative.

Don’t: Try and Pass off Advertising as Content

The worst thing a company can do on Reddit is pretend that advertising is actual content. Even worse is if the company then tries to pretend to be just another redditor, instead of a corporation. One example of this is when redditor mcucanon, a Marvel Studios representative, submitted several posts advertising various Marvel films. The movies subreddit, typically incredibly supportive of Marvel, lashed out against the blatant advertising, and the moderators of the subreddit responded by banning most superhero movie content. Typically, if Redditors see advertising without any attempt to make it into compelling content, the post and the brand suffer.

Do: Use Official Reddit Advertising if you Want to Advertise

However, Reddit does offer an official advertising system, which lets you craft advertisements in the same format as submissions and target the ad at certain groups. These ads, which are clearly marked as such, have a number of benefits. For one, since the ad is in the form of a submission, redditors can comment, and thus offer you the chance to interact, listen to suggestions, and ask questions while still running the ad. Secondly, several websites who have used the system have calculated that the ROI of an ad on Reddit is significantly higher than other methods of online advertising. If you do decide to attempt traditional advertising, a Reddit targeted ad can be an incredibly effective method.

With a userbase of millions that can direct incredible amounts of traffic to any website, product, or content on the web, Reddit is a marketing tool with immense potential. By understanding how Reddit works, and how to market to its users, you too can utilize it for innovative, compelling marketing.