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Published May 10th 2017

Five Things Marketers Need To Know About Reddit

Reddit is one of the most popular websites in the world but it remains one of the most misunderstood for marketers. Here's what you need to know.

It’s the 9th most popular website in the world, gets billions of page views each month, and there are millions of comments and posts each day. Yet, Reddit continues to be one of the most misunderstood platforms for marketers.

As Brandwatch’s resident Social Data Journalist, I head up the Brandwatch React project. Reddit is a key part of my role and I use it every day to see the latest trends and share blog posts with the community.

Want to know how Reddit can supercharge your marketing, this post can help.

1. Reddit is where trends begin

A very quick guide to how Reddit works:

Users post links, images, and text to subreddits. Subreddits are forums for different topics (e.g. the subreddit r/pics is a popular but fairly generic subreddit in which users upload images of interest, while r/journalism has a much smaller community and specifically deals with the practice of journalism).

Each subreddit has its own rules and characteristics, and posts are upvoted or downvoted by members of these communities. The more upvotes a post gets, the better chance it has of moving up to the front pages of Reddit.

Things that you see on the news often appeared on Reddit hours or days earlier. If you’re looking for trending stories, the top 10 Twitter trending list has nothing on the first few pages of Reddit. It’s called the front page of the internet for a reason! Also, if you’re looking for trending stories within a certain field, head straight for the dedicated subreddit. Active subreddits are full of stories and comments that make great fuel for your other social accounts.

If you’ve not used Reddit before, don’t be put off by the fairly simple design. It may look a little outdated, but once you’ve had a good scroll and found the subreddits you’re interested in you’ll start to see why this is one of the most popular sites in the world.

Note: When you set up a Reddit account it’s well worth creating NSFW filters. The posts that get the most upvotes aren’t always clean, but you can filter these out so you’re safe to browse at your desk.

2. A crisis on Reddit is a crisis everywhere

If your brand is gaining negative mentions on Reddit, it would be a mistake to write it off as an isolated event.

Like I said, Reddit is a springboard for viral stories, and if your brand is involved in any way you really ought to know about it.

Just look at what happened to United Airlines in the wake of the incident where a man was removed from a plane. While mentions took a fairly long time to take off on Twitter, where the original videos were posted, the story rocketed up to the Reddit front page as the tweets were posted there. Outrage and jokes about United were trending on Reddit for a long while after the incident, and it was a key part of the story’s virality.

3. Whether you’re engaging or lurking, it’s as important as any other platform

You don’t need to engage with people on Reddit (although I’ll lay out my arguments for why you should in the next couple of points), but you should be listening. Not only is Reddit a place where your brand could be celebrated or trash-talked in a very public manner, there also are important conversations going on about all kinds of industries and products every day that you can learn a lot from.

Dedicated subreddits mean people who share a passion for a subject come together to share news, discuss and ask questions. While any kind of shameless self-promotion is absolutely looked down upon, these are great places to hear from potential customers and there’s nothing stopping you getting involved in these conversations to find out more.

4. You can seriously boost your traffic

My most successful blog posts, in terms of page views, are those that reached the front page of Reddit. My record is 60k+ unique page views from Reddit in 48 hours on a single blog post (and the subsequent shares on other platforms brought the total up to over 100k overall in that time period).

Like I said, there are dedicated sub-communities that are passionate about pretty much every subject you can think of, from gaming to data visualization (and many other fairly niche, sometimes NSFW things). The point is, your work probably has an audience on Reddit, and even if you don’t hit the front page, you’ll often gather some great feedback (even if it is sometimes delivered fairly brutally) and your work will be in front of the people you’d most like to read it.

It might seem zany to the traditional marketer, but it’s impossible to argue with the exposure it provides.

5. It’s hard work

All that said, posting your work on Reddit and getting in front of a massive audience is not easy.

Attempts to outwardly market on Reddit stick out like a sore thumb. It takes a long time to build a trusted account, and you need to engage and add value to the communities you’re sharing your work in. If you don’t, you’ll be down-voted, potentially shadow-banned and most likely showered with colorful insults.

If you’re interested in posting your work on Reddit, I’ve written up some tips on successfully building a Reddit account and reaching the front page (without dipping into the dark arts) in a separate blog post.

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