The Marketer’s Guide to Reddit

Reddit calls itself “The Front Page of the Internet”, and there’s never been a more appropriate slogan.  It’s s a fascinating mix of interesting news, cool links, social commentary and computer nerdiness all rolled into one.  Sounds like the ideal place to promote a website, right?

Well, it can be, but like all online communities, there’s a certain degree of “reddiquette” to follow.  Do it right, and you’ll be seeing a measurable stream of targeted traffic.  Do it wrong, and you’ll be downvoted into nothingness.  Here’s how it works.

Getting Started with Reddit

At its core, Reddit is made up of a bunch of “sub-reddits” on just about every category and topic you can imagine.  To find them, you can do a search on Reddit itself, or go to www.reddit.com/r/yourtopichere. Like reddit.com/r/music or reddit.com/r/politics.  Posting to the correct one is vital to making sure your submission doesn’t get downvoted and lost in the sea of other “me-too” posters.

reddit is down

Reddit shows its light-hearted side even when it crashes

When you first get started with Reddit, you can register an account without having to verify your email. It’s a good idea to go ahead and verify it though since as you comment and post links, you’ll build up karma.  Karma reflects your standing in the community based on comments you’ve made or links you’ve submitted – although it won’t help ratchet your posts up any higher than someone who just joined. It is, however, a good indicator of your status among your fellow “redditors” – and people do look at it.

Another important point about joining – choose your username wisely, as you cannot change it once it’s registered.  Every post you start, every link you submit, and every comment you make is stored under your profile page, like an archival trail of where you’ve been and what you’ve said.

It’s also worth noting that if you’ve already built up link and/or comment karma, these can’t be transferred to another account you create.

Reddit Marketing 101

Redditors love things that are unique, funny, interesting, cute and courageous.  Unlike other social sites, Reddit isn’t about who your friends are – so being BFFs with the highest-ranking Digg member means nothing here.

Reddit’s popularity can be directly traced to this free and open sharing site. Just about anything and everything goes. According to statistics from Ignite, most Reddit users are male, between the ages of 35-44 (with 25-34 year-olds not far behind), and with income levels generally around $25,000-$50,000 per year. Most Redditors have a bachelor’s degree or at least some college education, and the overwhelming majority of their users come from the U.S. (in particular San Francisco and Seattle) with Canada (Toronto) a close second.

reddit search traffic

Reddit’s traffic has grown steadily since 2006.

As of June 2011, Reddit’s traffic hit nearly two million unique visitors.

An Information Buffet

Reddit users can easily spend hours on the site, and they’re always looking for something to click on.  That being said though, because of the potential for sites that trick users into clicking shortlinks (and then installing malware and other junk), URL shorteners generally go nowhere with Reddit users.  If you’re going to post a link, go ahead and post the whole, exact thing. This isn’t Twitter, so you aren’t restricted by the number of characters.

Overall, the best way to get the most out of reddit is to interact with it.  Post incredible photos, videos, ask for help or suggestions (and be prepared for answers you might not have expected!) . Upvote relevant comments (by pressing the orange arrow beside each comment or post), and leave your own comments.

Upvoting is what helps your content get to the top of the heap. It’s the same as other social networking features (Digg, StumbleUpon, etc.) in that the more you have, the higher your post will go and possibly make it to the front page.

Using Subreddits Effectively

reddit.com postsub

There are some cases where the subreddit you’re interested in is a bit TOO targeted.  Like /r/copywriting . There’s not much action going on in there (probably because it looks too much like work!) but /r/starcraft, /r/gaming and /r/politics are positively overflowing with submissions and thus – traffic.

With this in mind, and if your topic is relevant, you may be able to squeeze it into one of the broader (traffic-getting) subreddit categories. For example:

Make Reddit Your Own

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information on “The Front Page of the Internet” (and who wouldn’t?), you can easily customize the front page to reflect your interests while getting some interesting tidbits of news you may not find yet on other sites.

When you’re on a subreddit, just press the “frontpage” button on the top right to make it part of your Front Page. It will also appear along the top “most frequently used” categories that stretch across the site.  You can also see how many other users have this same subreddit as part of their front page.  It’s a great way to filter out the noise and get updates on exactly what you want to see – from all over the web.

This way, you can also see what kinds of post topics are popular with readers. In some cases, particularly if your content is extremely popular, it may also be cross-posted from one subreddit to another. So, for instance, if your post is gaining lots of upvotes over in /r/YouShouldKnow, don’t be surprised if it gets mentioned over in /r/TodayILearned.

The most important point to keep in mind when posting to Reddit is to tweak your post titles to take full advantage of the curiosity angle. Instead of posting a title like “Dealing with a Disrespectful Boss: 5 Ways to Make Sure You Don’t Get Fired”, a more provoking personal-style title will get more hits, votes and traffic – such as – “Got Fired! How Would You Deal with the Boss from Hell?”

Who is Reddit Good For?

Even though Reddit is a massive sharing community, it’s not exactly endearing to your average marketer. That’s because time and time again, people register accounts and post up articles or sales pitches expecting to siphon some of Reddit’s traffic.  Instead, they get torn to shreds in the comments, flagged as spam, submitted to abuse, and basically never heard from again.  There are, however, some blogs and subjects that do extremely well on Reddit, including:

  • Personal stories that are heartwarming and tell of challenges, survival, or facing incredible odds.
  • Educational sites and stories that have unusual or obscure facts about history, a condition, disease or movement.
  • Photography and art
  • Politics (both in the U.S. and worldwide), Religion (including atheism),  Marijuana
  • Video games (console and MMORPGs)
  • Technology (computers, browsers, gadgets, programming)
  • Science
  • Music
  • Comics
  • Food
  • Fitness

If your blog or website doesn’t fit into one of these types, check to see if there is a /r/subreddit already made for it. If not, you can always create one yourself and invite others to participate. Overall, you want to be sure that your best content shines on Reddit. This isn’t a place where you can manipulate the system or post half-baked content. It will never see the light of day.

How Do You Market Yourself on Reddit?

reddit advertising

If your website content tends to be more progressive, unique, curious or simply eye-candy, there’s a strong chance it will do well on Reddit. All social media sharing sites have their own underlying pulse – and if you can tap into that by posting relevant content, you’ll be rewarded with a massive boost in traffic. Remember that here, people are actively looking for something that piques their interest. Tailor your posts to meet that urge head-on, and you’ll start reaping heaps of traffic.

Reddit Ads can Drive More Traffic than Advertising on StumbleUpon or Facebook

If you’d rather jump to the front of the line when it comes to marketing, you can guarantee your post a spot on the front page through Reddit advertising.  You can target your ad to show on ALL of Reddit (untargeted), or only certain subreddits you choose (targeted).  The self-serve advertising FAQ will answer all your questions about how to set up an ad campaign and promote with Reddit.  Gabriel Weinberg of search engine startup DuckDuckGo, experienced phenomenal success advertising with Reddit, as he was able to reach the kind of brand-engaged audience he wanted (plus get valuable feedback to make his product even better).

The Final Word on Reddit Promotion

Reddit is an eclectic blend of quirkiness and geekdom that, for the right kinds of websites, could make all the difference in getting your brand in front of engaged eyeballs and visitors who have something to say. Many business owners unfortunately dismiss Reddit as being the red-headed stepchild of the social media world, but if you’re targeting certain niches, aren’t afraid of criticism and want to reach trendsetters – there’s no better place.

About The Author: Sherice Jacob helps blog owners improve website design and increase conversion rates with custom blog theme design and SEO copywriting through her company at iElectrify. Get more from @sherice on Twitter

  1. As a long time marketer and long time redditor, I think this is a great piece with the necessary restraint. The only brand to get any kind of positive PR from reddit was Old Spice, I would imagine most other (large) brands without a viral/ISP angle to their campaign would struggle. Work and play do not mix and reddit is all about the play, and community. Seeings brands labour Facebook to death is the case in point. Building brand, yes, selling anything but soap or stickers, no. Unless your agency can get seriously creative, I really wouldn’t bother trying.. you could do way more damage than good. Niche tech companies on the other hand, should promote as people not businesses as the honesty will be greatly appreciated (by most).

    • Couldn’t have said it any better, marketing on Reddit is like walking in a minefield, you can’t make any obvious pitches or you are going to crash and burn.

  2. Reddit is definitely tough. Just today, “Where I’ve Been” posted a guest blog I wrote on the best cheap eats in SF & LA. I thought this would be good to share with the city-specific subreddits to start a discussion about everyone’s favorites.

    The SF post got a mix of helpful answers and accusations of spam: http://www.reddit.com/r/sanfrancisco/comments/jr0fn/best_cheap_eats_in_sf_any_to_add/. (Note the upvotes on some of the negative comments.)

    If anyone has any better ideas for how to approach posting on Reddit, I’d love to hear them. Maybe we should stick to adding value through commenting on posts related to one’s business?

  3. Agreed. You may hit a home run with Reddit, but you must be a seasoned Reddit user first AND have a good angle to carefully promote with.

    Another area that I have found Reddit useful for is to find interesting articles on Reddit and then post them on my Facebook Fan Pages to dilute my content with interesting and funny articles that my fans enjoy. Helps with my feedback rating and likes…

  4. There’s no doubt that if used correctly, Reddit can pad your traffic stats, with that said, it’s not something you want to rely on. It’s hard to predict what will resonate with the crowd and it’s very easy to get caught trying to manipulate the votes. I would look at Reddit as a nice way to boost your numbers if you rely on CPMs and you’re having a down month.

    From a non-marketing side, Reddit is a great place to pick up on web trends. People are posting all types of new ideas, new memes, and new jokes. If you become a true ‘redditor’ you’ll start spotting things weeks before they hit mainstream media (like Tosh.0).

    My advice is to dive in and simply become part of the community. Have fun with it and learn to enjoy it. Only then can you really get an “eye” for what the Reddit community likes…and even then you’ll be wrong most of the time.

    Good post guys! As you can see I’m a redditor :)

  5. This was beyond helpful for me, thank you so much for teaching me!

  6. Thanks so much for this amazing post! Tapping into Reddit’s potential has been on my to do list for a long time!

    Especially the “who is reddit good for” helps me a great deal.

    Thanks a lot Sherice for this fantastic review!

  7. You’re very welcome — but like I said, don’t try to “market” anything on Reddit (not like you would on other sites) or they’ll eat you alive.

    If you can keep it fun, playful, even a bit eccentric – and learn to laugh at yourself, you’ll have a great time on the site and reach the kind of people who could make your post go viral.

  8. Personally, I dislike to used reddit for marketing. If your content is quality content, people will click on it.

    You should simply focus on delivering the story of your post not on generating traffic for something else.

  9. I’ve had limited luck with reddit, though oddly enough the super-niche and site search have given my (also admittedly super-niche and poorly optimized) site some long-term traffic, which may or may not

    I kind of see reddit as somewhere between a forum and social bookmarking — you need to have some kind of social clout on the subreddit before you can effectively self-link — and the Shameless Plug subreddit is too wide-ranging to be that useful except for a quick traffic boost. Alien’s reddit-style comment is a common theme on the site, and self-promotion is not well-received.

    I agree that the title, matching it with the theme and feel of the subreddit, while making it clickable and descriptive, is the key to reddit posts — really it’s all there is. Following the rules of the subreddit will only get you so far — you have to have a keen marketing sense to get something to be upvoted enough to stay active for a few days.

  10. I have always liked reddit. I don’t spend nearly as much time with it as I probably should though. I have never received awesome traffic from it, but I get a few visitors.

  11. Fabulous. I signed up and have 3 accounts (yes, allowed) from 1995 which have pretty much not been used much.

    When I signed up you could get some link juice if on the home page. Those days are gone. Social Media is a tough cookie when it doesn’t improve your search ranking. Maybe some VERY weak signals G looks at.

  12. Interesting! I took one quick look at reddit and left. This is at least helpful to someone who had no clue what the site was about!
    Peace and Harmony, Sj

  13. I always thought of Reddit as the 4chan of social bookmarking [don't ask me why], but I guess I’ll have to think about it differently now.

    thanks for the great guide.

  14. I didn’t realize what some of those terms meant like IAMA, so thanks for the clarification! I agree that Reddit is a great site. I love the fact that it isn’t about who you know, it’s about great content. Article title is hugely important. Not too long or people may skim past it, not too short to lack enough description. Getting a good headline is an art!

  15. It’s incredible how little useful info is in this article. I’m a Redditor and I’m looking to market something on Reddit soon and I couldn’t find anything useful. It’s just a guide to Reddit, nothing on marketing tho.
    ’tis a bit disappointing.

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