Reddit is a user-created social news aggregator that’s referred to as the front page of the Internet. That’s a nod to the front page of a newspaper, where you find the most important information for the day. Basically, Reddit is an enormous collection of forums on practically any topic you can think of, and niches of that topic, and then niches of that topic, too.
People share advice, complaints, experiences, insights, news – anything they want. They also comment on or respond to other people’s posts. A lot of people share links on Reddit, too, and if a link makes its way to a popular Reddit page, it can get enough attention to crash servers. Used correctly, Reddit can be a marketer’s dream.
However, Reddit functions in a totally different way from other social platforms you’re used to. Its users expect a much different experience from what you deliver via something like Facebook or LinkedIn. Brands are catching on, though, and they’re starting to use Reddit for marketing and to speak directly to Reddit users from other platforms. For example, Budweiser has a YouTube video where they specifically reference Reddit users.
Knowing how to use Reddit is just as important as knowing what not to do. Branded content doesn’t always perform well on Reddit, because it’s not a gathering space for people to connect with brands. Instead, it’s a gathering space for people to connect with people. And that also makes it an ideal place to humanize your brand.
Here’s everything you need to know about Reddit marketing and advertising. We cover getting started, learning your way around Reddit and choosing the techniques that are right for your business.
What is Reddit? A Crash Course in Understanding the Platform
Before you can reap the benefits of Reddit marketing, you have to learn how to use Reddit, period. It’s unlike other social media platforms, and there’s a decent learning curve to maneuver. In this section, we’ll get into the different components of Reddit and how to use them. Later on, we’ll refer back to this information to talk about getting started with Reddit and using different marketing techniques.
There are over a million communities on Reddit, which are called subreddits, and each one is dedicated to a different topic. Metrics for Reddit and RedditList both have collections of trending Reddits, which can help you discover ones to follow. The posts in a subreddit should all relate to the subreddit’s topic in some way. Each subreddit starts with reddit.com/r/.
If you want to find the travel Reddit, you could simply enter reddit.com/r/travel. Some subreddits are basic, but others are specialized or obscure, like r/DisneyPlus or r/AnimalsBeingBros. This thread has tons of suggestions for the weirdest Reddits out there. And if you can’t find the type of community you’re looking for, you can create a subreddit for any topic you want.
Moderators and Admins
Moderators (mods) manage subreddits. There are also volunteers who edit the subreddit’s appearance, decide which content to allow and remove posts or users. Here’s a partial list of moderators for r/AskReddit:
Even though Reddit is self-managed quite a bit and moderators are in charge of subreddits, admins are in charge of Reddit as a whole. Admins are Reddit employees who have a lot of different responsibilities and access across Reddit. They can take away moderator functionality and ban subreddits.
Post content on Reddit ranges from humorous to creative to controversial. (There are efforts to keep some controversial and sensitive content from the front page.) The person who creates a post is called the Original Poster (OP). There are all types of content that people post on Reddit, including:
- Help requests
- News articles
For the sake of Reddit marketing, brands can offer tips for using their products or services, especially if there’s already an open discussion about it. You can also offer your industry expertise in the form of tips, tricks or hacks – just make sure there isn’t a hard sell at the end. You’re here to help, not to push.
It’s helpful to know that Redditors have their own language. They use a lot of acronyms, and some popular ones become their own subreddits, like TIL for “today I learned.” Here’s a list of common acronyms and what they mean.
After someone creates a Reddit post, others can comment on it and start a thread. Reddit (and most forums) organize comments in a tree structure so that you can see exactly what each user is commenting on, whether that’s the main post, a reply to it, a reply to a reply, etc.
Voting and Karma
Next to a post or comment, there are up and down arrows and a number. People use the up and down arrows to upvote and downvote posts, and the number changes accordingly, accounting for the total balance of upvotes and downvotes. The resulting number is called karma.
Upvoting can increase the post’s visibility, while downvoting can decrease the post’s visibility. That means that the post will either be displayed closer to or farther away from the top of the feed, similar to how the Facebook algorithm prioritizes content people want to see. Reddit best practices say that votes shouldn’t be used to show that you agree or disagree with what a commenter or OP says, but instead to vote on the post or comment’s quality level.
It’s possible to have a negative rating if you get enough downvotes. If your score is super low, your comment may be minimized so that only your name is displayed. If a reader wants to see what you wrote, they’ll have to click on your username.
Your account has a karma number, too. This reflects how much karma your comments have received. The more karma, the better, because it can make you more prominent in the Reddit community. If you have a high karma rating, you also have a better chance of being selected as a moderator. I’m on Reddit often, but I rarely post, so my karma score is pretty low.
Reddit Marketing with Coins
In addition to karma, Redditors can give awards to other users to highlight or recognize their posts. Giving a user an award costs Reddit Coins, which you can purchase. This post has several different awards, including community-specific awards, which are created by mods:
Note that Coins used to be called Creddits – they’re the same thing, just under a new name. Also, I mention Reddit Premium in this section, which I cover more later on. Coins can be used to buy three different types of awards:
- Silver Award: Costs 100 Coins. Shows a Silver Award on the post or comment.
- Gold Award: Costs 500 Coins. Gives the recipient one free week of Reddit Premium and 100 Coins. Shows a Gold Award on the post or comment.
- Platinum Award: Costs 1,800 Coins. Gives the recipient one free month of Reddit Premium and 700 Coins. Shows a Platinum Award on the post or comment.
Coins aren’t expensive, and they’re great for marketers who want to award customers for offering excellent feedback, chiming in with a great comment, participating in a contest, etc. With Reddit Premium, you get 700 coins each month. Otherwise, you can pay for Coins separately, with prices like $5.99 for 1,800 or $19.99 for 7,200.
Rules and Best Practices
If you don’t follow the platform’s guidelines, you could get banned from communities before your Reddit marketing has a chance to get off the ground. Subreddits have to abide by Reddit’s community guidelines. You can also set your own forum rules that Redditors have to follow if they want access to your subreddit. For example, you may have guidelines for the types of comments that are allowed. There’s also Reddit etiquette, called Reddiquette, that users should follow. Rediquette best practices include:
- Read the subreddit community rules before submitting anything.
- Report spam.
- Always tag Not Safe For Work (NSFW) content.
- Be polite and make everyone feel welcome.
Anybody who feels threatened or offended can block and/or report a user. The option to do so is below messages and links.
Reddit Premium is Reddit’s membership program. It used to be called Reddit Gold, but it was changed to Reddit Premium to not be confused with Coins or awards. Premium costs $5.99 per month and gives users access to advanced features, like an ad-free experience and access to r/lounge, a top-secret subreddit where leading minds head to chat. Premium members will also have early access to new features that are being tested before being released officially, and they get a regular supply of Reddit Coins to spend on Awards. While you don’t have to be a Premium member to market your business, it does give you deeper access to the site and the community, which can be great for networking or Reddit marketing if those users are in your target audience.
Getting Started with Reddit
Now that you know how Reddit works, let’s go through the process of creating an account, joining subreddits and creating your first post.
Creating Your Reddit Account
The signup process is super simple:
- Sign up for Reddit from the register page.
- Enter your email (optional).
- Choose a username and password. Your username has to be 3-20 characters.
- Verify that you’re a human with the captcha.
- Click “Sign Up” on the bottom-right.
You don’t have to use your real name as your username – most people don’t. You can use your brand name as your username, if you want, or a spin-off of your brand name. Also, you can create more than one account using the same email address. You could set up one account under your brand name, and then create an incognito account to use for secret customer or competitor analysis.
Choosing Your Interests and Subreddits
After signing up, you’ll get suggestions for popular boards that may interest you. If you have more than one account connected to the same email address, the subreddits you follow will be shared. I created a second username using the same email, and when I got to the part where I can pick subreddits to follow, I was already following the same ones as my first account:
If you want to join any of the subreddits on the auto-populated list, click the blue “Join” button on the right. When you’re done, click “Finish” on the bottom of the screen. When you’re on the homepage, you can search for more communities, and they all have “Join” buttons on the search results page or if you click into the subreddit. (More about searching from the homepage in a second.)
As a brand, you should subscribe to any subreddits that have to do with your company. What are the topics related to your brand and industry, and what topics are your target customers interested in, even if the connection is less obvious? Connecting with the right communities is a necessity for successful Reddit marketing.
The insurance app Lemonade promoted a post in a fast food subreddit. Does insurance have anything to do with fast food? No, but their post was geared toward food-lovers, and a lot of people have a vested interest in insurance, so chances are that their audience crossed over with the subreddit’s audience. (It also helped that their brand name is food-oriented.)
Once you have a list of subreddits you may be interested in, narrow them down. The subreddits you ultimately choose to follow and engage in should have a lot of subscribers, recently-active threads and guidelines that allow you to share the type of content you plan to create.
The Front Page
Looking at Reddit for the first time can be a bit overwhelming because there’s a lot to take in. The homepage – referred to as the front page, in Reddit lingo – shows trending posts from a selection of subreddits, including subreddits you follow. If you click the sort button in the upper-left of the home page, you can sort by popular Reddit feeds or the communities you’re part of.
There’s also a search bar toward the top of the page that you can use to search for subreddits or posts related to a term.
You can change the homepage view, too. There’s card view, which is the default homepage view, classic or compact. Here’s the classic view, as well as where you can change your view.
Posting to a Subreddit
When you’re on the home page or in a subreddit, there will be a pen next to your name. Click it to open a new window. Then, write something or share an image or link. Write a headline and include a tag to categorize the post. If you’re creating the post from the homepage, you’ll choose the subreddit that you want to post to.
Make sure to read the subreddit rules before posting. Some subreddits want posts formatted in a specific way, and if you miss a step, your post may get deleted by a moderator. Also, remain honest and transparent instead of sales-y, both in the post itself and in the headline you create for it. Something like, “Best home security systems ever!” won’t work, and a headline like this will likely get downvoted and invite negative comments.
12 Tips and Tools for Reddit Marketing
At its most basic, Reddit is a gathering place for any and every type of person, where people meet to chat and share content. Even if you’re going to use it for business, show up as though you’re here to hang with pals. Focus on building a community and generating or contributing to online discussions. The community has to be engaged in order to make any type of content or information viral. Here are 12 tips and tools for marketing your brand using Reddit.
Engage Before You Promote
You have to become a trusted part of the Reddit community before people care about what you have to say regarding your brand. Don’t jump into Reddit and start posting brand-focused content right away. Instead, upvote other posts and comments, leave thoughtful or interesting comments (that don’t have to do with your brand) on threads and share valuable content from other creators. For example, if you sell jewelry and you’re part of a fashion subreddit, post an infographic from another creator, like a fashion magazine, that shows different ways to style accessories.
Always Offer Value
Redditors only want to see valuable content – there’s no patience for obvious advertising like there is on a platform like Facebook. This can get tricky for brands that are used to using other social media sites to make announcements or offer blanket apologies that use a lot of jargon. That kind of thing doesn’t fly on Reddit. And since Reddit is where a lot of people go to complain about their dissatisfaction with a brand, if you’re going to respond, you can’t offer something as noncommittal as an apology without a real solution.
Listen to What Customers Are Saying
On Reddit, brands can listen in on what customers are saying, both the good and the bad. Reddit is a place for airing complaints and comparing notes with other customers, and this is where your customers may be discussing your company. You can basically get a front-row seat to customer feedback, and they don’t even have to know you’re listening. For example, here are several comments on a post in r/Amazon about Echo pet peeves:
Incentivizing engagement isn’t about tricking people into communicating with you or the community. Instead, it’s about encouraging people who have something to say to actually say it. Run a contest, explain that you’re conducting market research and need feedback, or crowdsource ideas for your next product. Offer Reddit Coins or an exclusive coupon code in return.
Let Reddit Guide Your Content Creation
As you dive into the subreddits that are unofficially dedicated to your brand, you’ll learn quite a bit about what customers like, hate, want and need. You can use all of this intel for Reddit marketing and to create content moving forward. That can be Reddit-specific content or content for another outlet, like your blog or newsletter.
For example, let’s say your company just launched a new video game. You head into a subreddit where people are sharing tips, and you realize that there’s one tip that’s super popular. You can add that insider tip to your next newsletter to keep your subscribers engaged. Or, maybe users are frustrated because they can’t figure out how to get past a certain level or solve a quest – you can create an ultimate guide or walkthrough and then post it to Reddit or your blog, or you can create a video and put it on Facebook or YouTube.
You may also discover a part of your business you didn’t know existed. For example, let’s say you run a chain of coffee shops. You notice that a lot of Reddit posts have comments about funny or strange things people encountered at your shops, like customers doing odd things when waiting for their coffee or baristas sharing their behind-the-coffee-bar stories. You could create an Instagram hashtag dedicated just to this, and then encourage your community to send in their stories.
Refer to Pop Culture in Your Reddit Marketing
Reddit is always focused on what’s happening right now, so look to relevant pop culture references when creating your content. For example, a viral meme can be used in your Reddit content, so long as you can somehow make the connection. Using a popular meme just to grab people’s attention when your messaging has nothing to do with it is a cheap ploy and one that users will see through quickly. Chipotle got meme marketing right and did their own spin on “there are two types of people” memes with this one:
Host an Ask Me Anything
Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions are excellent for prominent people, like celebrities, influencers, journalists and CEOs. Basically, anyone who people want to talk to should host an AMA. If your company isn’t well-known yet or your managers or staff aren’t well-known, partner up with an influencer who can speak on your brand’s behalf and share how they’re affiliated with your company. Essentially, the host has to be interesting enough to get people to tune in.
Audi also did a great job of this by hosting live video AMAs featuring celebrities. As the celebs rode shotgun in racecars and hit high speeds, they answered user questions. They combined everything that works: a recognizable influencer, an engaging AMA session with users, and video instead of text-only content. Plus, Audi caught the eye of people who may not care so much about cars or racing, but who do care about the celeb being interviewed. No matter why people watched, Audi increased brand awareness.
AMAs don’t have to be hosted on your own subreddit. They can be held in a broader subreddit that includes your audience. Not only will you reach more people, but you’ll become known to people who haven’t heard of you or your company yet.
Host an “I Am A” AMA
You can also host an “I am a…” AMA, which is for people who have specific expertise. This type of AMA may have a little more wiggle room in terms of getting attention without being well-known, because the focus is on your job title or experience, not necessarily your name and prominence. For example, people may not know Rachel DeAlto by name, but as a dating expert for Match.com, she has an interesting job that people want to ask about, especially in terms of social distancing.
Start a Discussion
If you find that people are talking about your brand, product or service in some way, you can create a post to start a discussion about something specific you want to know. For example, ask for feedback on a new product or a marketing campaign you just launched. Invite them to offer criticism or point out issues they’ve experienced. As you respond to comments and interact with users, make sure you’re just having a discussion. This isn’t the time to promote anything unless it will be truly helpful to the customer and solve a problem they’re having right now.
When you create a post, assign a community manager to keep an eye on the thread. First, you have to know when someone replies so you can hop in and comment within a reasonable amount of time, like a few hours or a day. Second, if negative comments get out of hand, you’ll want to address them quickly.
Add Links to Posts and Comments
While you don’t want to push users to visit links or slam them with “buy this” messaging, you can definitely link to content or products that users will find valuable. After mentioning something, you can simply say, “Learn more here,” and then include the link. The link (or the sale) shouldn’t be your primary point of being on Reddit, but it’s okay to include it if it’ll be valuable to others. Think of this as a soft plug for your brand, product or service rather than a hard sell. In Rachel DeAlto’s AMA, she posts a link for people to find out more about dating while social distancing.
Use Reddit as a Customer Service Channel
Some companies use a branded username or subreddit to help with customer service and Reddit marketing. Promote this type of subreddit on other channels, too – it’ll be helpful for potential customers who are researching before they move forward. The Xbox One subreddit was created by fans, not Microsoft, but there are Xbox-affiliated mods who post announcements and help troubleshoot.
Advertise on Reddit with Promoted Posts
While your messaging has to be community-focused instead of promotional, you can still pay for advertising to promote your posts and have your content seen by more people. By promoting a post, you’ll have it prioritized higher in subreddits, and you can also target the post to a specific user group. An icon will show up next to the post to indicate that it’s promoted, so use this feature wisely – you don’t want people to automatically ignore all of your posts because they think of them as ads.
If you’re going to promote the same message in different subreddits, tweak the content to match each specific subreddit – you’ll have a better chance at higher conversion rates this way. You should promote posts in subreddits that already include your audience, but you can think outside-the-box when it comes to that.
Here’s an example from Ally Bank, which promoted this post in a PlayStation subreddit. There’s not an obvious connection between gaming and banking, but since pretty much everyone needs a bank, this isn’t as much of a stretch as it seems at first. Also, Ally may know that a lot of their account owners are within a certain age range, making the video game audience a great target for their Reddit marketing. Ally showed users something they can identify with and compare to choosing a bank.
While you can promote a Reddit post you already posted, you can also create a Reddit ad. In the next section, we’ll go through the basics of advertising with Reddit.
An Overview of Advertising with Reddit
Reddit offers a ton of help and guidance for people who want to pay for advertising, and this page has links to practically anything you need to know. There’s also this page, which has a bunch of tips for advanced ad management.
If you know you’re going to use Reddit paid advertising and you don’t have a Reddit account yet, you can sign up here. If you do have a Reddit account, there’s an option to log in on that page. Let’s go over what you need to know to get started with Reddit ads.
Reddit’s Three Ad Types
There are three types of ads you can run on Reddit, and each one comes with its own strengths:
- Link: Best for driving traffic to a landing page. The only copy you can add is a 300-character headline.
- Text: Best for collecting feedback or generating a discussion. Add a 300-character headline; the body has unlimited space for text and hyperlinks.
- Video: Best for driving traffic to a landing page, since clicking the ad directs the user to an external link. (Personally, I also think video is great for brand awareness.) The only copy you can add is a 300-character headline.
You can use GIFs in a video ad, too. Also, if you have one long video, you can cut it into smaller videos and run several video ads to see which length and content perform best.
There are five campaign objectives to choose from:
- App Installs: Get more installations of your mobile app.
- Brand Awareness and Reach: Help more people learn about your brand or product.
- Conversions: Encourage actions on your landing page.
- Traffic: Drive more traffic to your landing page.
- Video Views: Increase how many people watch your video.
The objective you choose may affect the type of ad you can create. For example, you can only run a traffic ad with a link or video post.
You can target and define audiences for Reddit ads using the following demographics:
- Time of day
You can also choose to not define your audience in certain ways. For example, if your brand has a global reach, you don’t have to choose a location for targeting.
You can add a call-to-action (CTA) button to your Reddit ad, and there are a number of choices, like “Contact Us,” “Download” and “Play Now.” Below is an example of what it looks like on a link or text ad, and if you have a video ad, the CTA will come up on the end card.
Like with other social media ad platforms, you can set daily or lifetime budgets. You’ll set bids, which should be reflective of the most you’re willing to pay for that ad’s results. That differs based on the type of ad you run. For example, with a Brand Awareness and Reach campaign, you’ll set a bid for every 1,000 impressions, while with an App Install ad, you’ll set a bid for every click.
Running a Test Campaign
Reddit suggests running your first test campaign for four weeks, which should give you enough time to determine how well Reddit advertising will work for you or if you need to make changes to your ads to get more traction out of them. When creating your first ad, make sure to follow these suggestions to limit the chances of your ad getting rejected during the approval process. Here are a few more must-know tips, too:
- Create separate ad groups to see which type of ad (video vs. link vs. text-only) or target audience performs best.
- Start with a high bid until your ads start getting attention, then lower it, if needed.
- Target broadly, and think abstractly, too. For example, if you run a fitness brand and you know that your audience is full of adventure-seekers, you can target travel audiences.
Each campaign will have ad groups, and ad groups contain ads. Reddit suggests adding multiple ads to your ad groups so there are different versions to cycle through, which prevents ad fatigue. Plus, Reddit limits how many times a user sees your ad in one day, so if you have more ads for Reddit to show, you can increase their impact.
When tracking the performance of your ads, the ads dashboard lets you select the metrics you care about and organize them in whatever way works for you. You can find definitions for the metrics here, which may help you decide which ones to watch.
Final Thoughts About Reddit Marketing
Reddit is a niche social platform, one that’s quite different from other outlets you have experience with. It requires a lot of hands-on attention, and while it can help you build relationships with potential or current customers, it’s not often a direct line to making a sale. If your fans or customers are already on Reddit, though, you should definitely add it to your marketing strategy.
One thing you don’t want to do is run Reddit ads and skip genuine, non-promoted engagement. Some ads work incredibly well, while other users run ads and get nothing in return – and in some cases, organic posts perform much better than paid posts. There’s no guarantee that your content will go viral, whether you pay for it or not, and if you don’t take the time to engage with the community, nothing you do will have much reach.
Approached strategically, Reddit can definitely benefit your marketing efforts, but don’t dedicate all of your time or resources to this one platform. Luckily, you don’t have to be all in all the time. Reddit is more forgiving than something like Instagram, which requires regular content to stay relevant. With Reddit, you can hop in whenever you think Reddit will give you customer insight or help you get a message out, then focus on other marketing avenues the rest of the time.
Do you want to tune in to what Reddit has to say about WordPress? We’ve put together a list for exactly that.
Featured Image via Julia Tim / shutterstock.com