Guest post by Scott Masson.
Reddit is the 30th busiest website in the world, attracting a whopping 56 billion pageviews and helping to popularise millions of pieces of content each year. Although Reddit is dwarfed by the likes of Facebook and Twitter, its influence on the internet is huge, and its potential for marketers as a way to reach customers is incredible.
Despite all of this, Reddit has been almost completely abandoned by marketers, largely due to its reputation of apathy and even hostility towards marketing efforts in the past. However, when used correctly and with the interests of the Reddit community in mind, it can be used to drive highly specific traffic to your website, build a fan base around your brand, and reach internet “influencers” who can help spread and promote your best content.
What is Reddit and How Does it Work?
Reddit is a content curation and sharing site. Users share links to interesting articles and funny pictures, or create discussion posts on almost every topic imaginable. Every piece of content on Reddit is voted upon by millions of active users, and the content with the most “upvotes” grows and gets more exposure, whereas bad content gets downvoted into obscurity.
Reddit users can also build up karma by getting involved with the community through sharing and commenting on content. A good karma score shows other users that you are a legitimate part of the community and are well versed in Reddiquette.
The real value for marketers comes from the way Reddit is segmented into hundreds of thousands of subreddits – communities dedicated to one specific niche or interest. Subreddits exist for everything from the absurd and ridiculous, to the insanely specific, to the universal and generic. Thanks to this huge range of subreddits, users can find a community discussing anything they’re interested in, and marketers can directly reach their specific target audiences with ease.
Reaching Your Potential Customers
If your content gets upvoted enough, it’ll land on Reddit’s front page. Thanks to the popularity of the site, having your content on the front page can drive a website-crashing numbers of visitors. However, huge amounts of traffic shouldn’t be your ultimate goal; sure, you may be able to drive a million visitors to your site, but if most of these visitors won’t actually engage with your brand, what have you really achieved except for an overwhelmed server?
Instead, you need to concentrate on driving people who actually care about what you do to your page. The more targeted the people you can drive to your website, the higher the conversion rate will be. You need to ask yourself: “what’s more valuable, 1,000 visitors who don’t care about my business, or 10 who really do?”
This is why finding highly relevant subreddits is so important, as it allows you to find and interact with potential customers who are already interested in you (or your client’s) industry or niche, and are therefore that much more likely to be interested in what you’re doing.
For example, let’s say that your business sells collectible music memorabilia. By posting your most interesting blog articles and pieces of memorabilia to subreddits like /r/music, /r/vinyl and /r/musiccollecting, you can reach the section of Reddit that is already interested in your content and products. Sure, the number of visitors you’ll drive may not be as large, but the people you do reach will be much more likely to share your content with other enthusiasts, interact with you and perhaps even buy something!
This is why identifying your key subreddits and becoming a part of those communities is crucial if you want to make the most out of Reddit.
According to this infographic, 90% of Reddit users are college-educated, with an average income of $37,500—which most of them earn from working in web-related industries! For marketers, this tells us that the Reddit community is intelligent, educated and very web savvy; in other words, the kind of people who are familiar with marketing tactics, and tend to be suspicious of them. In fact, Reddit has very popular subreddits dedicated solely to shooting down and mocking unwary marketers, which goes some way toward explaining the hostility many marketers complain of when trying to use the platform.
However, when used transparently and earnestly, Reddit is a great place for marketers to get involved. The bottom line is this: success on Reddit comes down to quality and value added to the community, regardless of intention. If you’re trying to hard sell and spam Reddit, your content will get downvoted into oblivion. But if you submit truly interesting and useful content, which is relevant to the subreddit you’re targeting, Redditors will embrace and promote your efforts.
Reddit shouldn’t be seen as a blind traffic driver, or a place to sell or promote products, but rather as a place where you can make the most out of your content marketing efforts and build relationships with your target audience.
That doesn’t mean that there isn’t any room for brand promotion, however. Stories of brands doing something interesting, newsworthy or worthwhile tend to perform very well on Reddit, which makes it a great place to promote PR messages. Similarly, some brands have had massive wins with specific Reddit marketing plays, such as the notable Amazon/Nissan campaign, which succeeded not because Redditors didn’t realize it was marketing, but because Redditors liked it anyway.
It just goes to show that Reddit doesn’t hate marketing—it just hates boring marketing!
Timing is Everything
Hundreds of thousands of pieces of content get shared on Reddit every day, and this sheer volume of stuff being pushed out means that, on popular subreddits, it is very easy for your content to get buried before Redditors even have a chance to read it and upvote it.
To help tip the scales in your favour, you can strategically time your posts to go out at times when lots of people are online. According to the aforementioned statistics, almost half of Reddit’s user base is on the U.S. East Coast. Therefore, it follows that the best time to post would be at times when lots of people on the East Coast are online, such as lunchtimes and evenings in EST.
That said, you shouldn’t allow your posting schedule to be decided by that statistic alone, instead, you must keep track of when users tend to use specific subreddits and make your own posting schedules based on your community’s behavior.
Timing your posts well can make a huge difference in how they will perform. Thanks to the way the Reddit voting system works, pieces which get lots of exposure get more upvotes, and the more upvotes something gets, the more exposure it is given. Therefore, popular items can quickly snowball and grow exponentially.
Learn from Reddit
You don’t have to be a prolific poster to benefit from using Reddit. In fact, just reading without contributing (or “lurking”, as it is known) can give marketers a great insight into emerging trends and how content performs online.
Reddit is the self-proclaimed “front page of the internet”, and based on the amount of viral content and internet memes which have originated or been popularized on the site, this motto is well-earned. Redditors often joke that what is popular on Reddit today will be trending on Facebook and Twitter tomorrow!
As internet marketers, we need to keep ahead of the latest internet trends, and thanks to the huge number of internet tastemakers on Reddit, it pays to pay attention to what is performing well, as it might well be the next big meme.
Reddit’s voting system lets marketers see exactly what kind of content will become popular, which can inspire your own pieces of content, or give you a sneak peek into how something is likely to perform on bigger platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
Can Reddit Help SEO?
Gaming Reddit for backlinks is a bad idea. Yes, when links get a couple of upvotes, they do become “do-follow”, but the actual impact these sorts of links will make to your SEO is negligible. After all, if link building was as easy as simply submitting a link to Reddit, ranking websites would be the easiest job in the world.
However, what Reddit can do is help marketers build the kind of links which really matter: contextual, organic links from trusted websites. Reddit is full of writers, bloggers, webmasters and other internet influencers who are instrumental in sharing good content and building links, and the sheer amount of viral content spun out of the site every month is a testament to the influence Reddit users have.
In addition, countless websites ranging from Buzzfeed to international media like the BBC have writers and web journalists scouring Reddit for newsworthy content, which makes it one of the best places to promote your content and get it in front of journalists and web writers who are covering your niche.
While this article has hopefully given you a strategic overview of the way Reddit can help with your internet marketing, actually using Reddit successfully is a different story. The only way you can really start to use Reddit effectively is through diving in and getting involved!
I suggest you start off slowly—sign up for a free account and use it recreationally for a few days while getting a feeling for the website and the communities you will be involved with.
If you already use Reddit to market your company or your clients, please get involved in the comment section and let us know what tips and tricks you use!
About the author: Scott Masson is hopelessly addicted to Reddit, although he can stop any time… You can reach him on Reddit here. When he isn’t plugged into Reddit, Scott writes about marketing and fitness for a range of publications.