Reddit refers to itself as “the front-page of the Internet.” That statement is closer to the truth than you would think. Since its inception, Reddit has taken off as one of the largest social news networks online, with page-views numbering in the billions. Out of my circle of friends, I believe there’s a grand total of one who does’t regularly browse Reddit. As a result, if anything on the net is truly worth viewing, knowing, or discussing, chances are, it’s on there. If it isn’t on there, it will be in short order.
Before we continue, it’s worth noting that Reddit isn’t the only website of its kind – it’s only one of the best known. 4chan, for instance, has long been known as the source of most of the Internet’s memes, and one of the key influencers in the evolution of content sharing. It’s role in the growth of online interaction cannot be denied, even if, as a marketing professional, there’s not likely to be a great deal on there which you’ll find useful.
Reddit is another matter entirely. To be honest, I’m always faintly shocked that, out of all the organizations trying to make themselves known in the social sphere, out of all the businesses which count themselves as technologically savvy, there seem to be so few which leverage Reddit’s considerable power as a marketing tool. Perhaps it’s because, when compared to Facebook or Twitter, it’s a little bit more difficult to utilize – and Facebook and Twitter, which both have more users, seem like more attractive alternatives, anyway.
What IS Reddit, Anyway?
I called Reddit a social news site, but that’s only part of the truth. Reddit is essentially a hub for the sharing of information. Users can post images (usually via Imgur, a free hosting service), links, or text. This content is posted to a single, specific subreddit, at which point other users can comment on this content and either upvote it or downvote it. Upvoting moves it up the list of content displayed (and grants the user who shared the content something known as ‘karma’). Downvoting, meanwhile, makes the content less likely to appear without a thorough search, and removes ‘karma’ from the user.
Basically, upvoting is a way of saying “I like this” and down-voting says “your post is bad and you should feel bad.” It’s simple to use, easy to navigate, and contain enough content that it’d likely take years to view it all.
So…why use, Reddit, then?
Well, for one, because it’s incredibly easy to know where you need to go to market to a specific demographic. Reddit helpfully divides itself up into ‘subreddits,’ with each one catering to a specific topic, lifestyle, or set of interests. Point one for Reddit: you don’t need to do a whole lot of work to track down your target demographic. It’s already done for you. All you really need to do is look at the content of a particular sub-reddit, at which point it’s a simple matter of determining whether or not what you offer would fit with that content.
There’s also the fact that, once something makes it to the front-page of Reddit through upvotes alone, chances are fairly high that it’s already made its way across virtually every social networking site on the Internet. It’s gone viral. People know about it, people like it, and, as a result, people share it wherever they can. Once again, you can see why Reddit is a powerful tool in the hands of the right marketer.
Finally, since not many business professionals use Reddit, those that do are usually fairly memorable to Reddit’s users – particularly if they’re knowledgeable, helpful, and active. A user who simply tries to post link after link to one of their products is probably going to be blasted off the site in short order. However, a user who posts something such as “IAMA Executive at Company X. Ask me Anything,” then proceeds to genuinely participate in discussions and upvote content across the site…
People are probably going to like said user, and respond positively to Company X in the future. Note that I didn’t include the word ‘marketing’ in that quotation. That’s because you don’t really need to be a marketing executive to properly leverage Reddit. You simply need to work at an organization, understand how to use the site, and have your company’s go-ahead to utilize it.
How Do I Use It?
In a lot of ways, running a social campaign on Reddit is a lot like running one on Facebook or Twitter. You need the right tools for the job, you need to be helpful and genuine without coming across like a seedy used car salesman, and you need to understand the platform. Social Media Today features a decent guide on the tool-set you’re going to need to properly leverage Reddit, and The Oatmeal features a rather excellent explanation of Reddit’s “self-serve” advertising, and how to use it to your advantage. The language of that comic might be a touch unprofessional, but that doesn’t make the message any less valuable.
That aside, use Reddit like you’re an ordinary user, who just happens to be selling a product on the side. Don’t make your time on Reddit wholly devoted to your product: most Reddit users are fairly tech-savvy, and more than a few of them are quite intelligent. If you’re putting on a false face, there’s a good chance they’re going to see right through you.