Unless this is your first time on the internet, chances are you've heard of Reddit. Self-proclaimed as "The Front Page of the Internet," Reddit is one of the most fascinating and active places online to discover and share cool content. If you're a marketer, you should immediately understand the potential this resource has for you to deliver your best published content to the attention of the platforms 195 million unique visitors (as of last month alone).
Reddit is a powerful and fair community that doesn't like to be led astray by underhanded marketing efforts. So how exactly do you leverage it in order to provide valuable content to users, while also plugging your product? Read on, and you just might learn how.
In order to understand if Reddit is going to even make sense as a marketing channel for your product or service, we first need to understand the demographics of the people that make up this wonderful community. According to 2012 statistics from Ignite, Reddit is largely comprised of users between the ages of 18 and 34. For an even more concentrated breakdown of age, you can see the precise statistics for all age groups that make up the community below:
Reddit users are quite well-educated. Taking the age range into consideration, there is a good chance that many users are still enrolled in college and currently pursuing a degree. More than 50% of Reddit's community base has had at least some college education, while another 30% of users have a bachelor's degree or higher:
The website is made up largely of male users. However, the percentage of males may not be quite as high as people might assume - recorded at 65%. Comprising a minority of only 35%, there is a sizable population of female Redditors that should not be overlooked by marketers who are trying to get female-friendly content discovered.
For marketers and business owners alike, the data that is most interesting about Reddit is the breakdown of income levels. About 75% of Redditors make between 0 and 50k a year, so businesses who are selling expensive luxury products are unlikely to find much success. For small businesses selling affordable products though, these statistics should make it even clearer to you just how useful Reddit could be for your business if you use it correctly.
How to Post
Having gone over the demographics, if Reddit seems like it would make sense for your marketing efforts, the next thing you're going to have to do is get your content posted!
You’re going to have to first create an account. Doing so is not only necessary to submit content to Reddit, but is an obvious first step so that you can build credibility for any content or posts you make that generate engagement and (if you're lucky) make it to Reddit's coveted "Front Page." Once you've created an account, click on the "submit a new link" or "submit a new text post" on the right hand side of Reddit's homepage.
Having an account will also allow you to build "karma" - Reddit's gauge of how helpful a user you are within the Reddit community. The more you participate and contribute to the community in a positive way, the better your karma will be. While "karma" has no direct impact on how well your content will do on Reddit, it is a good indicator of whether or not other users can trust the information that you are posting. In a lot of ways you can think of karma like a spam score – the higher yours is the more people know you are someone who is trying to add real value, not just spam the site with your own content.
Just like you would with any other social post, make sure that you give your content a compelling title that will draw users in to what you have to say. There is a lot of content floating around Reddit that is competing for attention, so if you have a lackluster title your post will be quickly overlooked.
A couple of other things to note as you post:
- Ranking is based on upvote and downvote difference. This means a post with 100 upvotes and no downvotes will rank the same as a post with 1000 upvotes and 900 downvotes.
- The older a post is, the less well it will rank. For example, if two posts have the exact same amount of upvotes and downvotes, the more recent post will show up first.
- Using a link shortener on Reddit is not a good idea. While this can be a pain when it comes to getting analytics reports for your Reddit traffic, using one will hurt overall traffic. There are many people throughout Reddit who hide spam and executable files behind shortened links and as a result many Redditors avoid these kinds of links altogether - regardless of what great content you might be trying to share when using one.
- Posting old or repetitive content is frowned upon. The community thrives on new and original content. So give credit where it is due if you are posting something that is not yours. A good rule of thumb is to create new content and post in just one subreddit.
Places to Post
The next step is to identify which locations will generate the most engagement, initiate upvotes, and lead traffic to your content. As a general rule, it makes sense to look to post in specific subreddits - smaller, more genre specific areas of Reddit.
Each subreddit has its own community and moderators that make it unique. Subreddits are designed to organize specific subject matter for users only searching for that topic. They act as a one-stop-shop for content they are interested in, rather than having to dig through pages looking for posts that might be of interest. Try to post in subreddits that are related to your content and that have amassed at least 20,000 readers - posting in subreddits with less than that will make it very hard for your content to find the upvotes it needs to get to the point where it will drive any sort of noticeable traffic. The most popular subreddits by the amount of users subscribed are (in alphabetical order):
- /r/EarthPorn (pictures of natural landscapes)
- /r/ELI5 (Explain Like I'm 5)
As Reddit is an ever-changing landscape, these popular subreddits may change over time - losing or gaining traffic as the community losses or gains interest in the content that is posted in each specific subreddit. To stay on top of what subreddits are the most popular at any given time, simply navigate to a specific subreddit and then look at the current amount of active users and the amount of people who have subscribed to the subreddit. These statistics can be found in the right hand column directly under the "subscribe" / "unsubscribe" button.
Subjects That Do Well
Now that we've identified where to post your content, you need to decide what is appropriate to share. So where is your content most likely to be appreciated by the Reddit community? While there is a wide array of different genres and types of subjects that can captivate redditors, most often the subjects that do the best on Reddit are:
- Heartwarming/Personal Achievement Stories
- Educational/Unusual/Obscure Facts (often about History, Health, or Political Movements)
- Video Games
- Technology (Computers, Browsers, Programming/Development/Gadgets)
Times to Post
Just like social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn, Reddit does have a best time to post. Knowing what demographic you are trying to appeal to can indicate the best time to create a post. Choosing who you want to see your content, and knowing when they will be online, allows you to strategically plan your posts so that they will be seen by a majority of your target audience.
However, thanks to Reddit user "minimaxir," you can see some of the general trends that popular posts on Reddit tend to follow:
As the graphic shows, there are many different times of day and week when posts have done well on Reddit - driving tons of traffic to each piece of content in the process. Only when you figure out if your audience is likely to be more active at 10 AM or 7 PM are you going to be able to time your post accordingly.
As long as you don't try and post a piece of content from 12 am - 6 am during the week or on Saturdays, time will be less of a factor than how the Reddit community responds to the quality of the content you are posting.
Reddit is one of the least game-able places on the internet. In the past, marketers who have tried shameless vote-buying strategies and lame product plugs have almost universally been chastised, marked as spammers, and ultimately shunned by the Reddit community. Thanks to these clowns, other marketers who try to share helpful and entertaining content on Reddit now have a much harder time doing so because they have to prove they are not simply promoting a product but also actually adding real value to the community.
When you're creating your first piece of content on Reddit, don't be THAT brand. Add value. Be genuine. While they certainly won't try and humiliate you in public forums online like Redditors will, content creators who are actually trying to use Reddit to bring cool and original content to a large community will dislike you for making their jobs harder.
So what exactly should you avoid? It should be fairly explanatory if you've ever used social media marketing tactics, but doing any of the following things will almost certainly get your post downvoted into oblivion. Or even worse, hurt your brand's image online and get your Reddit account suspended:
- Submitting too many posts that point to a single URL in a single subreddit (this is the equivalent of spamming, and won't be tolerated by redditors)
- Using auto-submit forms
- Posting overtly promotional content about your brand or products without trying to bring value to the Reddit community
- Buying Upvotes
Instead, try providing content to redditors in appropriate subreddits that actually helps people, entertains them, or teaches them cool new things about the world. Users flock to Reddit in the hopes of discovering content they have never seen before. Whether it is for entertainment or educational purposes, they are looking for something new. Take advantage of this opportunity to teach the community something. What can you offer them besides strictly your product or service? How should you present this information? Here are some options:
- Questions (either answering or asking in subreddits like /r/AskReddit, /r/AskScience, /r/ IAMA or /r/ELI5)
Using Reddit Organically
When used effectively, Reddit is an extremely impressive short term marketing option that should supplement long term efforts. Using Reddit as a place to promote content can equate to a notable increase in traffic in as short a time period as an hour or two - or as long as a day or two when done correctly.
Just how much of an increase? They can range from 20x the normal amount of traffic for some sites if they make it to Reddit's frontpage, to thousands of visits for simply making it to the front page of a medium sized subreddit.
So what tactics can you use to achieve such a spike? Obviously you can just try and post links out to content in the subreddits that we have discussed above with some success, but a very simple way to start out is to host an "AMA" (Ask Me Anything).
An AMA is a great way to start your Reddit marketing strategy - particularly if you have an individual who is doing something particularly interesting that you want people to know about (a CEO, other upper-level employees in your business are a good bet).
AMAs tend to be about a two hour time investment, in which you first present who you are, and then offer yourself up for questions. This interactive and engaging format allows for users to explore your subject matter on a deeper level. As a brand, you also open yourself up to a new type of conversation with potential customers. Here you can learn what your audience is specifically interested in regarding your field, and then do your best to cater to those interests. It is very important to try and keep direction of what kinds of questions people should ask to a minimum - the title of your AMA should do that for you.
Questions that the most people want to know the answers to will be upvoted to the top of the comments section of your post by other users. While you don't have to answer all the questions you are provided with, doing so will win you major kudos from the Reddit community.
Below you can find an example of an AMA that Blue Fountain Media helped run. As you can clearly see, the title tells users what the person does and why it's interesting, while the subtitle offers a brief plug and more detail about the person running the AMA so that users can better understand what kinds of questions to ask.
As has been stated throughout this article, a link to a company website is not the main focus of the AMA - it is a side note that helps clarify who the individual is for readers. Making the AMA all about your website and trying to incorporate it into all the responses you give is a surefire way to shoot yourself in the foot and tank your AMA. Offer insight and cool facts about your industry in your responses while addressing the questions that people ask, instead of mentioning your business as often as possible. Again, Redditors come to the site to discover something different, so provide them with information worth listening to and give them a positive experience.
If you can seamlessly include a bit about your business feel free, but don't let it overwhelm your responses and cause you to provide less value in what you say. If you were at a real Q&A session and the speaker mentioned their business every time a question was asked it would be pretty boring to listen to and you'd probably want to leave. In the real world that would be rude of you - but on the internet there isn’t anything to keep people from just navigating away.
If you don't want to explore the world of organic growth on Reddit, another option is to purchase actual advertisements on the site. Much like the Ads on Google's SERPs, Reddit advertisements are annotated as "sponsored links" and appear at the top of each page:
While Reddit's CPM (Cost-per-impression) model is sure to make marketers initially balk at the idea, this option can actually be worth the time to explore. Reddit's model allows marketers to service untargeted ads at all of Reddit, or to target specific subreddits that better relate to the service or product that is being sold. For a minimum bid of $20 a day for site-wide targeting and $30 for subreddit targeting, Reddit advertising can be a useful addition to any online marketing campaign if done correctly.
This is all well and good - but does it actually work? For an android app called Gyrospace 3D the answer was...sort of? Having tested the rough waters of Reddit and getting largely positive results through their organic posts, Gyrospace took advantage of Reddit's CPM model to target a specific subreddit in order to try and drive downloads of their app and in the process they found some success. Their advertising efforts on Reddit won them almost 50,000 impressions and 900 clicks on their advertisement for a fairly cheap investment of $60 over the course of their campaign.
- A CPM of $1.22
- A CPC of $0.067
- A CTR of 1.81% (The average Reddit rate is 1.57%)
With statistics like that, you might be wondering how this campaign isn't defined as a straight success as opposed to "sort of a success." The creators of the app explain in their blog post:
"Compared to the following weekend [when the ads were no longer running], the app had almost exactly the same amount of daily installs - no significant boost in purchases. The free version of the app skewed slightly higher daily downloads while the ad was live, but again nothing significant."
While the statistics point to Reddit being an effective advertising option, in this case it didn't drive the sort of qualified traffic advertisers would need to make an investment in Reddit's paid option worth it.
That being said, Gyrospace could be at fault for their lack of qualified traffic as it is unclear if they had optimized their conversion funnel to get users from Reddit all the way to a download page. There's a chance that the traffic the Reddit advertisement drove to their app simply got there and then navigated away when they found it difficult to actually convert with their paid version.
Regardless of where the fault may lie for lack of conversions, this example would seem to indicate that Reddit's paid options are going to be a safe decision for online businesses like blogs that simply want to garner more brand recognition and drive traffic to their content. For those that are actually trying to sell a product or service though, it’s still a bit more unclear.
Although many overlook the idea of using Reddit to try and bolster their marketing efforts, the service holds a lot of untapped potential. While the organic and advertising options aren't a great long-term solution for generating traffic, the short term massive bursts of traffic that they can provide can pay huge dividends for online businesses. When used in conjunction with other online marketing tactics like SEO, PPC and Social Media in the more traditional forms (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) Reddit can act as a high risk, high reward asset that makes a big impact on your business.
Do you have any marketing experiences on Reddit - bad or good - that you would like to share? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet us @BFMweb!