“Anyone here regret working in marketing?” A Reddit post asking this exact question is just a small piece of a growing pile of evidence: Marketers are finally infiltrating this under-the-brand-radar social media platform.
And why wouldn’t they? Thousands of posts like this one spark lively online conversation among Reddit users, Redditors, every day, on a platform where anyone can share virtually anything — videos, images, questions, musings, analyses — often with a community of like-minded people who also have a unique take on that specific thing.
Career satisfaction notwithstanding, marketers who continue to ignore Reddit as an advertising medium will probably end up regretting it.
Reddit’s New Marketing Allure
Indeed, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman and his team are working hard to lure advertisers to their platform, and major agency holding companies are now giving more credence to the notion that the site may provide a viable alternative to the duopoly of Google and Facebook. The site boasts 330 million active monthly users, making the self-proclaimed “Front Page of the Internet” the third-most-visited website in the U.S.
Most of those 330 million are male, college-educated, and under 35, a user demographic that’s unique in the social media world, in part because a lot of Redditors aren’t on other social platforms. Marketers are also attuned to the fact that these users are, on average, far more engaged than users of other platforms and tend to make — and spend — more money than the average user on other social sites.
Yet demographics aren’t the only thing that makes Reddit unique. As many new Redditors will tell you, navigating the site can be tricky at first. It comes with its own language and a unique system for rewarding site contributions, which can lead to a flood of questions for first-time users. Fortunately, answers aren’t hard to come by: All you have to do is ask.
Big advertisers now say that clients are asking about the platform with greater frequency, and the nearly 15-year-old company seems poised to be the next big thing in marketing. So if you’re a marketer looking to dive into Reddit, here are three tips that could help you.
1. Be helpful, and you’ll earn good karma.
When Redditors post content or comments that other users appreciate via “upvoting,” they gain karma — the social currency that powers the site. Conversely, contributions that others view as detracting from the larger conversation will get downvoted, and thus karma can disappear just as easily.
Brands that are new to the site should make a concerted effort to organically increase their “karmic score” by posting comments and links of value to other users; this will reflect a genuine effort to interact with the community in a meaningful way. It takes planning and thoughtfulness, but the payoff can be worth the effort. You won’t gain any special privileges, but you’ll be viewed as more credible, and your posts are more likely to garner attention.
2. Find your community.
Reddit’s active users tend to subscribe to a variety of communities, called subreddits, that align with their individual interests. Brands that have something to say about a particular topic should aim to be active within those smaller communities. Redditors are often eager to learn, and one of the best ways to educate and inform is through video, a favored medium on the platform.
Hope Horner, CEO of video production company Lemonlight Media, stresses that on Reddit, brands should aim to be valuable rather than promotional when sharing any sort of media. “Reddit users are especially sensitive to advertising, so don’t post overtly promotional videos and expect nice comments,” Horner says. “Instead, pay attention to the preferences of the subreddit communities you want to target, and then participate in the conversation organically.”
Whether on the home page or within a subreddit (or even within a conversation beneath a particular post), the platform’s scrolling content feed makes it ideal for posting GIFs. Capitalize on this by distilling the most engaging sections of your video down to 15 seconds or fewer and posting the clip to your community. Just don’t spam.
3. Answer anything.
Reddit offers brands opportunities for truly authentic engagement in a different format than other platforms. One of the broader subreddit categories, notated as /r/AMA, allows Redditors to create an “Ask Me Anything,” which invites other users to do exactly that. Celebrities, politicians, executives, and other public figures have used this outlet to connect with users in an authentic way and provide much-appreciated transparency.
Some brands have started experimenting with the format as well. Audi, for instance, hosted a live AMA series complete with celebrity appearances and high-performance vehicles. Dubbed “Think Faster: The World’s Fastest AMA,” the series worked because it didn’t get too promotional. Rather than place the focus on its products, Audi made sure to give the spotlight to its celebrity guests, who attracted plenty of attention for the brand.
Marketers still face some interesting obstacles to using Reddit effectively as an ad platform. Karma can disappear quickly, subreddits can be tough to break into, and AMAs can go horribly wrong. Still, the site’s user base represents a potential gold mine for many brands, and its leadership is clearly willing to help brands that are ready to start experimenting with the platform. Now might just be the perfect time.