Dubbed one of the “trickiest platforms to crack,” by Digiday, Reddit is a notoriously tough channel for marketers.
Big names like The Atlantic and Business Week have been banned by moderators for “unwanted sharing.”
While there are challenges, those brands that master the rules of Reddit stand to reap some big-time benefits. Here’s what you need to know:
What You’ll Learn:
- Why use Reddit for marketing?
- Reddit marketing best practices
- What type of content works best on Reddit
- How to find relevant subreddits
- Reddit marketing tools
For the uninitiated, Reddit is a social platform with a much different culture than say, Facebook or Instagram, designed for user-generated and community-aggregated content.
Users can submit posts and other users can ‘upvote’ or ‘downvote’ that content to indicate whether they like it–or don’t. The more upvotes you get, the more people see your content, while downvotes can bury your content fast.
Reddit is split up into thousands (reportedly around 50k) of user-created sub-communities, called subreddits, that cover just about every topic you could think of.
Why Use Reddit for Marketing?
Part of the reason that Reddit is so difficult for marketers to get right is that while it’s a massively popular sharing platform, it’s not exactly built for marketers. A 2018 Content Marketing Institute even warns against the platform with a big “hell no” to using Reddit for marketing for anything that isn’t research.
Compared to platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter where ads and analytics are the real money-makers Reddit is run by user communities and unpaid moderators who use the platform to connect with people who share the same interests–in other words, the platform doesn’t need advertisers, which means users call the shots.
Those users are also anonymous, which is likely one of the primary reasons the platform is known for snarky comments and call-outs.
Reddit gives marketers a few main benefits.
As mentioned in another recent post, Reddit is a great tool for topic generation–particularly for uncovering “question keywords” that can be used on pillar pages or other deep dive-style posts.
Reddit is also great for off-page SEO. It’s a free platform for sharing content (assuming your content is high-quality) to user communities with similar interests.
Best Practices for Marketing on Reddit
As is the case with any platform, one of the key rules of Reddit marketing is that you use the platform correctly.
Know the Rules
While many of the “rules” for using social media platforms are more “cultural norm” than punishable offense, Reddit takes this stuff seriously–in many cases, violating the terms of a specific community can result in getting your posts removed or worse, getting kicked out of the group.
You can find the official list of rules here, though it’s worth noting that certain communities may also have their own rules.
Here’s a look at the rules for r/Infographics:
And the rules for r/socialmedia:
Be a Community Member First
It takes a long time to earn trust on this platform. As such, you’ll want to spend some time submitting content, earning “karma” points, and commenting on relevant threads. Marketers need to avoid the urge to promote blog posts and products and instead, get to know the community.
Keep in mind, some forums have different purposes–Reddit forums can be used as job boards, a community help desk, or a place to vent. Make sure you get familiar with the space before you start posting, otherwise you might irritate community members.
Similar to Facebook and LinkedIn Groups, Reddit marketing is more about engaging and being helpful than self-promotion–in fact, many groups (r/socialmedia included) outright ban overly promotional content in their forums.
B2B brands might have an easier time here, as they can join groups already talking about their core topics. For consumer-facing brands, it’s a bit harder to strike that balance between acting like a brand and engaging like a real-deal community member.
Never, Ever Engage in Promotional Trickery
From fake accounts to blatant sales pitches and upvoting schemes, Redditors know when you’re trying to game the system and will happily flag your content as spam to protect their online space.
It doesn’t take much to get booted. This Forbes article mentions that The Atlantic was banned because one of its editors was posting too many links under different usernames.
While game developer EA didn’t get banned, a vague customer service post related to Starwars Battlefront II famously became the most down-voted post in Reddit history.
What Types of Content Work Best for Reddit Digital Marketing?
Blog content. Blog content is hard to get right, but it can be an effective part of your content strategy.
Text-based posts. In an era where multimedia content is the gold standard, many subreddits are happily sharing and upvoting text-based content. Part of what makes this platform unique is, it’s mostly about sharing ideas–even when they’re not formatted for usability or enhanced with a custom graphic.
It’s also worth mentioning that you may want to share blog-type content as a text post instead of linking to your site like you might on Twitter or Facebook.
AMAs. As mentioned, AMA stands for “ask me anything,” as is a type of thread where users with a large following or a unique story can answer questions from the community. AMAs are often hosted on the subreddit r/IAmA, which presents an opportunity to connect with a general audience.
There, you can filter by topics like Politics, Nonprofit, Actor/Entertainer to find interesting content. At the time of writing, content included a mix of AMAs from regular folks and high-profile public figures like Barack Obama and Bill Gates.
The Economist regularly has staff writers host AMA threads, which allow them to share a unique view of their jobs.
In one memorable example, the magazine’s obituary writer took to the platform to answer questions about her job — a topic that naturally drew a lot of interest. More recently, this segment featured a data journalist currently working on COVID-19 visualizations.
News. While up-to-the-minute news isn’t possible for every brand, Reddit is a great platform for publishers. Keep in mind, news isn’t always a local update or investigative report. You might also use Reddit to share content from industry thought leaders, link to original research or a relevant report, or announce a feature release (check the pulse on this one, because again, you don’t want to be too promotional).
Look for people talking about your brand or target keywords. Like other platforms, monitoring the conversation around your brand and relevant topics is a great way to chime in with something useful. Look for people who have mentioned your brand–are they happy customers or are they considering your solution and several others? This may be an opportunity to set things right.
Ask for feedback. Reddit is great for receiving unfiltered insights about your brand, industry trends, and what customers really want. Ask questions that help you learn more about your audience and use that information to create better products, services, and content.
Ads. While Reddit users have little patience for overly promotional blog content, ads might be a potential workaround for users dying to leverage this community.
As it stands, the only ad format available is “promoted post,” though you’ll have the option to use video content or a static image in the creative.
Reddit recommends creating ad content that drives conversation–so, while this presents an opportunity to promote your solutions, you still need to play to the platform.
For example, Welch’s Grape Juice partnered with Reddit’s ad team to reach Gen X users. The campaign received 94% positive brand sentiment, a 31% increase in view-throughs, and 83% of customers reported ad content was relevant to them.
Here’s one from Snapchat, ironically promoting its own ad platform pulled from the feed. This example doesn’t necessarily spark conversation but its inoffensive and relevant based on my search history.
Triplebyte’s copy is engaging, light-hearted, timely–I could see this being effective for connecting with active job hunters or even curious folks working from home.
Reddit’s ad platform comes with the option to choose a campaign objective:
Segment campaign targeting:
Define targeting criteria based on interest, location, communities, and so on.
Essentially, Reddit is a lot like every other platform on the paid side.
Pro tip: At the top of Reddit, you’ll see a ‘‘promoted” tab. You can use this to see competitors’ campaign performance to find out how users responded to ad content and whether competitors are promoting ads in your core communities.
How to Find Relevant Subreddits
Start by searching for terms that relate to your niche and see what people are posting.
For example, there are a ton of groups dedicated to SEO, social media, content marketing, computer programming, freelancing, the list is endless.
Consider the following:
- What topics are your audience members interested in?
- How do you provide value to customers?
- What kind of expertise can you bring to the table?
- Run a quick Google search for “Reddit + [target keyword]”
- Look toward social listening tools for trending topics in your niche. While most won’t include Reddit insights, they will help you ID your audiences’ interests and what topics/content types perform best for those groups.
Should You Create Your Own Subreddit?
You might also consider creating a new group for your audience (Instructions can be found here)
You can grow your community by promoting it on other channels and develop your own rules around what types of posts are encouraged/allowed. That said, you’ll still need to focus on having conversations over promoting your products/services/content.
Caveat: Don’t do this unless you plan on investing in this community.
Because the promotional elements are secondary to the community building and engagement efforts, investing a ton of time/energy/resources into Reddit might not be a great strategy for cash-strapped brands or small businesses.
Here are a few different approaches from various brand subreddits:
Nordstrom uses their subreddit as a support channel:
Spotify’s is more of a multi-purpose community for sharing playlists and asking other users for help. The streaming brand uses its subreddit to learn more about its users.
Glamour’s subreddit, Showerthoughts is hardly branded content at all. Instead, they’ve created a fun distraction where users can share the “tiny epiphanies” that happen while showering, driving, or daydreaming.
Taco Bell’s Reddit page is mostly made up of organic UGC content which includes everything from customers claiming they got food poisoning from the fast food chain to people recreating Crunch Wrap Supremes at home.
One of my favorite examples of branded Reddit content is Microsoft’s Xbox One subreddit, it’s a legitimately valuable resource that acts as a customer service channel, community forum, and knowledge-sharing platform.
Additionally, the subreddit features a Wiki containing important links and an archive of past developer AMAs.
Few social media calendar-type tools that includes features that support Reddit and there aren’t a ton of options when it comes to analytics and social listening, either.
Still, there are a handful of quality options that may help you out. Here are a few solid options you might want to look into.
- TrackReddit.TrackReddit is a social listening tool designed for Reddit that allows you to monitor brand mentions and track relevant keywords in real-time. You can opt-in to text or email alerts for mentions, monitor specific subreddits, and review campaign stats for your tracking campaigns.
- Reddit Insight. Reddit Insight is a tool that creates visualizations that can help you track submissions, compare controversy between posts, and create word clouds.
- Reddit Stream. Reddit Stream allows you to replace “reddit.com” with “reddit-stream.com” on any comment thread to receive a live feed of the latest comments on a particular post. While this tool is designed for a very specific function, it may be a useful tool for keeping an eye on the conversation happening around your posts and in any relevant communities so that you can jump in at the right time.
- Later for Reddit. Social media platform Later offers a Reddit-specific feature that includes a Subreddit Finder, a scheduling tool, and the ability to examine post trends for any given subreddit.
- Brandwatch. Brandwatch, like Later, is one of the few tools that allow you to manage Reddit activities alongside other social channels. This platform is built for competitive analysis, brand monitoring, and audience research on a range of platforms, making this a good option for brands looking to work Reddit into a cohesive multichannel effort.
- Reddit Enhancement Suite. A free collection of tools, the Reddit Enhancement Suite offers advanced filtering options that can weed out irrelevant subreddits, posts, and keywords, a comment navigator for quickly finding particular posts, and a user highlighter that highlights comments from specific accounts.
Many brands are quick to write Reddit off as a marketing channel due to the unique challenges of the space.
But avoiding the platform for fear of criticism or whatever else is holding you back also means leaving opportunities on the table.
Follow the rules, find your niche, and act like a person, not a brand, and Reddit may be one of your best tools for reaching highly-engaged, loyal audiences that won’t hesitate to tell you what they think.