Photo by @konkarampelas on Unsplash

If you’ve spent some time online, chances are you’ve already heard of Reddit. The site calls itself “the front page of the internet,” and that’s not just hyperbole. Reddit is unbelievably popular, and posts that hit the front page usually end up spreading to various other sites all over the web.

But what is Reddit? And how do you use it?

At its core, Reddit is a news-aggregation site which runs largely on user-generated content, and discussions based on that content. The site is divided into many categories, or communities, called subreddits. And there are a huge variety of subreddits, covering virtually every topic possible—from generic ones such as r/nba, to very specific ones such as r/birdswitharms, which is just a collection of posts where human hands have been photoshopped onto pictures of birds. No matter what you think about, there’s probably already a subreddit for it.

An important feature of Reddit is that users can both “upvote” or “downvote” content that’s posted on the site. This determines the popularity of the posts, and the most popular content is displayed at the top of its respective subreddit page. The most popular posts across all subreddits are shown on Reddit’s front page for users who aren’t registered on the site. For people who have an account, the most popular posts from the subreddits they’ve subscribed to are shown.

Why is Reddit important?

Now that we’ve gotten a basic understanding what Reddit is, and how it works, let’s break down why it’s important. No matter what you want to market, you’ll find a community of interested people on Reddit. This gives your brand huge opportunities to connect with potential customers, and establish relationships with them as well.

Aside from marketing, Reddit is also a great way for you to conduct market research. Simply keep an eye on relevant subreddits, and you’ll know the most popular trends in your niche in no time. The knowledge that you gain from this can be used to tweak your product so that you offer a better value to your buyers.

But before you start using Reddit to market your brand, here are some things that you should know:

  • 71% of Reddit news users are male
  • 59% of them are aged between 18-29
  • 47% identify as liberal (only 13% consider themselves conservative, and 39% as moderate).
  • 47% of Reddit users are online almost all the time.

If your target audience falls within any of these categories, you should seriously consider using Reddit as a marketing platform for your brand. But you’ll need to know that Reddit users, or “redditors” are fiercely protective of their space, and generally loathe any attempts to hijack their communities for marketing, or for any personal gain. To truly succeed as a brand on Reddit, you’ll need to acknowledge the forum, play by its rules, and genuinely respect the space. Here are some of the best practices for a brand on Reddit.

Best practices for Reddit

Become a true redditor: On Reddit, not many people would be willing to trust a brand-new user who only make posts that are aimed at promoting a product or a service. You’ll first need to be a genuine participant before you start marketing, and immerse yourself in how things work on Reddit. Follow topics you’re genuinely interested in, and familiarize yourself with the site.

Focus on providing value: Redditors are primarily on the site to find and share information. Generally, self-promotion is not appreciated in the community. While you can do this once a while, your focus should be on providing real value to your audience.

Post original content and engage in a genuine way: Reddit is vastly different from the social channels that you’re familiar with, so you should keep in mind that you can’t just copy-paste your Facebook update onto a subreddit and expect to have any success. Each subreddit has it’s own specific rules, and you should pay great attention to them when crafting your content. If you can become a valuable, contributing member of the community, you’ll be able to find yourself new followers.

But just like there are best practices that you can follow, there are also some things you should remember to avoid if you don’t want to get banned or downvoted into oblivion by the Reddit community.

How to not get banned on Reddit

The Reddit community doesn’t think twice about banning accounts that seem spammy. Sometimes, they might even ban an entire domain from appearing on the platform—and that can be a huge problem for your brand. For this reason, you should take extra care about what you’re posting. Keep the following points in mind:

Never submit the same comment many times on different subreddits (especially rapidly)

  • Don’t submit links only to your website
  • Don’t ask for upvotes
  • Steer clear of illegal content
  • Don’t share anyone’s private information
  • Don’t be overly promotional
  • Add value

Redditors take pride in their community, and are very careful about becoming a part of someone’s marketing strategy. Some redditors will even check your entire posting history, just to see if you’re a marketer who’s posting content only from your brand’s website. This is why you should focus a lot more on providing value to the audience than promoting your brand. If you focus on providing value to the subreddits you’re part of, you’ll be able to slip in a promotional post here and there, as well.

How to use Reddit for marketing

1) Create an account

The first thing you’ll need to do is to create an account for yourself. As soon as you enter the homepage, you’ll see a sign-up box on the top right of your screen. This will take you to the account creation page, which looks something like this:

Next, you’ll choose a username and password for your account. The username is how you’ll be shown everywhere on Reddit. It’s recommended that you use your brand name, but also add your personal name to it. This adds a real person to your marketing activity, and will make everything you do on the site seem more authentic. This is especially necessary on Reddit, where people strongly prefer authenticity and people over brands.

Once you do this, you’ll be asked to complete a captcha, and then immediately be asked to choose at least 5 subreddits that you want to follow. The communities are split according to interest, and there’s even a recommended category for you to choose from. Once you’re done selecting the subreddits you want to follow, you’ll be taken to your Reddit homepage, which will feature the top posts from all the subreddits you follow.

2) Find relevant subreddits for your brand

The next thing that you’ll have to do is to find relevant subreddits for your brand. This is the most important part of marketing on Reddit. Choosing the right subreddits is pretty much half the work, and if you’re focusing on the wrong ones, your efforts will be in vain.

But, as we mentioned earlier, there are literally thousands of subreddits, ranging from stuff as generic as r/science, to something as specific as r/BreadStapledToTrees. How do you find the right one for your brand?

Remember, the most important thing for you to do on Reddit is to provide value to the community. This is why you need to ask yourself three specific questions to narrow down your list of potential subreddits:

  • What, specifically, are your areas of expertise?
  • What value are you aiming to provide your audience?
  • What are your target audience members interested in?

Ideally, your areas of expertise should match up with topics that your target audience would be interested in, and you should have a clear idea of what value you can provide to them. While the first two questions are more internal, the third one is something that will need a little bit of work.

To understand the content that your target audience is interested in, you’ll need to have a clear idea of the people you’re going to be targeting. To do this, you’ll need to create a profile for your ideal customer. Get as specific as you can when you do this. Try to get things like age, gender, income level, interests, and even hobbies. You could also take a look at the profile of your current users, and use that data to craft your target audience.

Once you have a list of topics you can find, you can simply browse Reddit for all relevant subreddits with these keywords, or run a google search with “reddit+ keyword.”

Once you have a list of potential subreddits to join, you can filter them out by:

  • The number of subscribers for each subreddit
  • The most frequently discussed topics and the type of content that’s posted
  • How active the community is in terms of posting and generating discussion
  • Specific etiquette and rules for that subreddit

The more subscribers there are for a subreddit, the more reach you’ll potentially have. But you’ll also have to consider the fact that you’ll be competing for attention with a larger number of people. A subreddit with a smaller number of subscribers might give you lower reach, but if the subreddit is especially niche, then there’s a high possibility that the subscribers will be of high quality.

By keeping an eye on the topics being discussed, and the type of content that’s being posted, you’ll get an idea as to what the subreddit is all about, and what kind of content works there. This will help when you start creating your own posts.

Every subreddit also has it’s own rules for posting, and you should go through them and make sure that you’re following them all. Here’s an example, from the subreddit r/explainlikeimfive:

If your goal on Reddit is to provide customer service or build a product community, you can even create a new subreddit and use that as a support channel for your brand. Share this subreddit on your other social channels, and make sure that you’re regularly online so that you can support your customers, and make connections with other people who may be interested in your brand.

3) Observe the subreddits for a while

Now that you’ve created your account, and joined the relevant subreddits, you might think you’re ready to start posting content. But it’d be wise to hold off for a while and observe the communities that you’re part of. Take a look at the content that people are posting, and how other people are reacting to it. If you find a discussion that you can join, do it! Try to get involved in the major discussions of the more popular posts.

However, make sure that you’re offering real value in the comments that you make. If your comment is generic, you might as well not make it at all. A well-written comment with insights, facts, examples, and maybe even links to further reading is a lot more likely to earn the respect of the community, and will help keep the conversation flowing.

When you disagree with someone, make sure you’re being respectful, while also adding sufficient documentation, examples, and evidence for your claims. The point of commenting here should be to further discussion.

Whether you agree or disagree with someone, it’s always a good idea to appreciate people for putting out their views, and being generous overall. Doing this will improve your reputation, and will make it easier for other redditors to trust that you’re there for the good of community.

You can also consider setting up a TrackReddit account. TrackReddit is a social media monitoring tool that can send you alerts when specific keywords or phrases (that you choose) are used across Reddit. This will allow you to jump in when users mention your brand, and engage with them appropriately.

In your TrackReddit account, you can also set up tracking for keywords that are relevant to your industry in general, so you stay on top of these conversations. It’s also a good idea to monitor conversations surrounding your competitors, in case you find an opportunity to jump in there, as well.

4) Start posting content

If you’ve been posting comments for a while, you’ll have hopefully gained enough respect and “karma” to begin posting content on these subreddits, as well. But initially, it’d be a good idea for you to share resources from the internet that you think would be beneficial for the community.

Sharing blog posts, videos, podcasts, or any other type of content that you have no stake in will further establish your reputation as someone who’s there for the benefit of the community, and not just to promote.

Once you’ve established yourself as a valued member of the subreddit you’re a part of, you can then start posting your own content, as well. But the basic rule still applies—the content that you share should still provide value, and be relevant to the discussions that are going on in the group. Make sure that your content flows naturally with the ongoing trending topics on the subreddit.

You can also take discussions on the subreddit as inspiration to create new content, and then share that with the community. No matter what you do, make sure you’re not forcing a topic. Your content is more likely to succeed if it’s organically relevant. And don’t stop posting external content to the subreddit, as well!

One important thing to remember about Reddit is that you’ll have to be consistent and active. Keep engaging and posting content regularly, and you’re more likely to succeed.

A great way to generate engagement on Reddit is to host AMAs. An AMA is basically a post where you ask other redditors to “Ask Me Anything”. You can find great success in posts like these, but you’ll need to be prepared to answer all kinds of questions that redditors may bring up. Here’s an example of an AMA post:

5) Reddit ads

On most social media platforms, ad targeting is limited to categories like interests and regions, but the inherent structure of Reddit allows you to target people via subreddits as well. Given how specific subreddits can be, you’ll be able to target highly specific, engaged, and influential people. Reddit ads also lets you negatively target keywords and subreddits, meaning your ad won’t appear next to the selected keywords or subreddits, so you can even exclude certain people from seeing your ad.

Reddit ads are relatively simple to use. There are two types of ads: Promoted Posts and Display Ads.

Promoted Posts: There are two types of Promoted Posts: Link Ads, and Text Ads. And they have the same look and feel as any other post on Reddit. A Link Ad is an external link to your website or product landing page. These look similar to headlines. Without the need for a ton of copywriting, these ads can be created quickly and easily.

Text Ads are internal links to another Reddit page. The ad can send readers to another page that has a longer description of your offer, external links, or even a discussion forum where your product is explained better. Unlike a Link Ad that redirects to a site or landing page, Text Ads will always redirect to another Reddit page or post.

Display Ads: This is your traditional online display ad, like a banner or rich media ad. If you want one of these, you’ll have to contact Reddit’s sales team. These ads are pretty expensive, and are usually reserved for agencies that come with large budgets.

Besides offering more of a dynamic ad campaign, Reddit’s managed advertising program comes with perks, like a dedicated account manager and personalized analytics reports.

How to set up ads on Reddit

  1. Sign in to Reddit’s campaign management tool, and then get your ad copy and images ready. Give your campaign a name here.
  2. Use the persona of the ideal customer that you’d created to define your target audience. You can do this with any of the following parameters:
    1. Interests
    2. Locations
    3. Subreddits
    4. Platforms (desktop and mobile web)
    5. Mobile devices (Android or iOS)
    6. Advanced time of day targeting
  3. Set your budget. You can choose a daily campaign budget or a total campaign budget. Also, Reddit ads are priced based on the impressions that they get you, meaning you pay a specific amount for 1000 impressions.
  4. Once you’ve done all of this, you just need to upload your creatives. Choose a headline, upload your images, and send it for approval from the Reddit team. Your ad should be approved and live within 24 hours!

Given its nature, Reddit is a platform that could potentially make a huge difference in getting your brand in front of highly engaged visitors who have something to say. Reddit hasn’t usually been seen as a viable marketing channel, and it definitely takes a lot of work for brands to be truly success on this platform, but it’s usually worth it. Anything that hits the front page of Reddit usually reaches almost every other social media platform, as well. So if you’re targetting specific niches, and are looking to reach trendsetters directly, there’s no better place for you.

Know anything we missed, or have any questions? Leave a comment below, and we’ll be sure to get back to you ASAP.

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