So You Want To “Market On Reddit”
Want to make Reddit a part of your digital marketing strategy, but not sure how? Check out columnist Brian Patterson's handy guide for entering the world of Reddit.
A memo hit your desk, an email dropped into your inbox, or the idea popped into your head: We need to market our company, product, etc. on Reddit.
It seems so easy — post something cool about our company, get to the top of the dubbed “front page of the internet,” and bathe in a pool of karma, upvotes, site visitors and conversions.
If only it were so easy! Reddit may just be one of the most difficult places on the internet to “market.” The crowd is quick to try to sniff out anything that could have been planted by a would-be marketer, so you have to go to great lengths to ensure you don’t get called out. If you’re caught, at best, you’ll get downvoted into oblivion — but at worst, you’ll get called out on a subreddit that is dedicated to outing those who’ve tried to market on Reddit: r/hailcorporate.
Before you ever comment or create your first post, read through this quick-start guide to ensure you have a painless entry into the completely unique, difficult-to-navigate world of Reddit.
1. Become A Redditor
A novel idea, I know — become an actual user of the platform you want to infiltrate and assimilate into. Luckily, signing up can be done in under five minutes. Just go to Reddit.com and click the “sign up” link in the upper right-hand corner to get started. (Mobile users can download a Reddit app, though there is no official one on the market — Alien Blue is popular with iPhone users, and there’s BaconReader for Android.)
Once you create a user account, you’ll be following a default set of subreddits, which are sort of like different forums. These default subreddits are great for learning about the community.
Make sure you check out r/funny, r/todayILearned, and the ever-popular r/AMA — these subreddits are core and absolutely required reading to ensure you understand the type of content, humor, and language that works on Reddit.
2. Find Your Subreddit
To really get the full power of Reddit and make it natural for you, subscribe to subreddits on topics you are interested in. Are you into hunting? How about fashion (for men or women)? Are you left-handed? Whatever you are into, there is probably a subreddit for it.
Reddit gets easier when it’s actually useful to you, so following the subreddits you care about, along with all of the defaults, will help ease you in.
Additionally, there are likely multiple subreddits upon which you could eventually post your client or company content. You’ll want to hunt those down using the search feature and subscribe to them.
3. Craft Specific Content For Reddit
Before you start promoting content, you need to make sure that content will be “Reddit-approved.” There is no magic formula for this. Our internal process is something along the lines of, to quote US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, “I know it when I see it.”
So maybe there is a little more to it, but in the end you need to have a spidey-sense for what will and won’t work. To develop this in our new team members, what we do, after they’ve become acclimated, is ask them to start submitting content that is not company/client related. Just go find interesting stuff on the internet, and post it appropriately.
This accomplishes two goals: 1) You get a good feel for what does and does not work on Reddit; and 2) you also build up the activity on an account that you can later use to spread the word about your company or product.
Once you are armed with knowledge and experience, you can set out to create great content for specific subreddits with specific goals. We’ll spend a lot of time workshopping content and testing and re-testing titles for best performance. Once we have the content we are confident in, we’ll publish it on an account that isn’t clearly made for marketing.
4. Take Measures To Not Get Called Out
There are a few subreddits that exist specifically to call out marketers or big brands that try to promote themselves on Reddit and fail to do so in a subtle, believable manner. As mentioned above, you’ll want to make sure you spend some time posting content unrelated to your business to ensure that your account resembles a normal Redditor’s account. Reddit accounts are free, so arm yourself with extra ones and use them often to build up their karma and history.
You also need to take care to play by Reddit’s rules. Many subreddits, especially the large default subreddits, have very specific rules for what types of content can be posted. For example, r/pics only allows images that are hosted on Imgur. Other subreddits only allow text posts (“self posts”). Each community is particular about what types of content are allowed, so be sure to read the sidebar before posting. It can save you a lot of grief.
Recently, we saw a company attempt to market on Reddit poorly. A law firm submitted a link to their home page to a subreddit that was utterly unrelated to the legal field: /rdataisbeautiful. Additionally, the home page failed to include the type of content that was required for submission: beautiful, data-driven charts and graphs. But perhaps my favorite part was that their username was “lawfirm.” (Facepalm.)
The link was downvoted incredibly quickly and ultimately removed by the subreddit moderators. This is an example of why you should be a Redditor yourself before trying to contribute to the conversation in any way — a true Redditor wouldn’t have wasted their time.
5. Don’t Neglect The Comment Section
The comment section is where the bulk of the action is, and it is actually my favorite part because it’s so entertaining. As a Redditor, you’ll probably do most of your participating via comments. That’s important because it helps you build up your “comment karma,” which legitimizes you as a real person and an established member of the community.
Aside from commenting to build up your presence, it can also be a worthwhile area for promotion. Again, it requires subtlety and knowing your audience, but if you find a discussion thread that is related to your company’s product or service, you can link out to relevant content within the comment section.
This tactic may not generate as much traffic to the page as if you had submitted the link on its own, but it can come across as more authentic and less promotional. Do this a few times, in smart ways, and you can drive some really relevant traffic back to your site.
The comment section is also where you learn the language of Reddit. Do you know what “dank meme,” “banana for scale,” or “MRW” mean? Those are just some of the phrases that circulate on Reddit and help to build this sense of an exclusive insider community for those who understand the lingo.
Reap The Rewards
If you’re successful, your post will climb to the front page of the subreddit, ensuring that that subreddit’s readers will see your post.
While that’s valuable, there’s even more potential within default subreddits. If you climb to the top of a large default subreddit, there’s a chance your post will rise to the front page of Reddit, which can drive more than 200K visitors in a short time. That can then lead to pickup from other websites, strong links and lots of social shares.
Reddit is truly a valuable platform, but remember, you must first become a Redditor yourself.
Assistance provided by the resident expert Reddit marketers at Go Fish Digital, and all-around good people Kat Haselkorn and Connor Jones.