Rafael Sangiovanni|Jul 12, 2013

Earlier this week, we discussed WHY marketers should care about the social news aggregator site Reddit, especially for content marketing. So, now we want to address HOW do we engage with the communities there?

Reddit is all about providing value, conversation and community. Quality content rises to the top while everything else gets pushed down. That’s why people keep coming back.

That said, Redditors have become increasingly savvy at detecting spam and obvious self-promotion. Redditors can get content removed by flagging it themselves, and every subreddit has moderators that will delete posts that don’t meet their standards.

As an online marketer, you would be remiss not to have Reddit working for you. Paid advertising is offered on Reddit, but it’s expensive ($20,000 and up). As with everything online, good content wins the day, even if it’s not easy. Nieman Journalism Lab summed it up best: On Reddit, good links rise to the top but it can take a few attempts to get there.

The first question to ask yourself is if or how Reddit fits into your overall brand strategy. Are there communities tied directly to your industry? Do you have an expert who would make a compelling Ask Me Anything interview? Does your brand have a unique how-to guide that /r/howto would dig?

To really leverage Reddit, you have to start with a solid foundation:

  • Get familiar with the site: At first glance, Reddit looks like a giant white board with blue links. But dig around a little more, dive into different subreddits, read the comments and you’ll soon start to see how the whole thing works. Remember, upvotes and downvotes push content up or down. (Pro tip: Use the Reddit Enhancement Suite to get more control over the Reddit experience. It basically reconfigures the site for your browser to make it much easier to navigate.)
  • Become a Redditor: Sure, you can lurk around the site, but in order to participate by uploading links, commenting and upvoting/downvoting content, you must be a Redditor yourself. When your content is ready, click “Submit a link,” write a compelling headline and choose a subreddit.
  • Check frequently: Because of the democratic voting system that pushes up quality content, Reddit is a great place to see what’s trending on the web. You should make it a point to return to subreddits that are relevant to your company or brand and pay attention to what’s popular.
  • Linguistics 101: Like any long-standing community, Reddit has its own lexicon. Here are a few of the most common abbreviations:
    • OP: Short for original poster, as in the person who submitted a link or video in the thread you’re viewing.
    • Karma: The sum of upvotes and downvotes given to each user.
    • Throwaway: People will sometimes create throwaway accounts to comment on controversial topics.
    • TL;DR: Stands for “too long; didn’t read.” It’s a summary usually placed at the end of a long post. It helps to put a TL;DR to simplify your message and distill the most important parts.
    • XPost: Short for cross-post. This is usually written on posts that are shared from one subreddit to another.
    • AMA: Stands for Ask Me Anything. In these incredibly popular threads, the community at large interviews people from all walks of life, from a local firefighter to President Obama to Hollywood celebrities. (Rule of thumb: Be more like Ethan Hawke and less like Woody Harrelson.)
  • Your Reddit history: If you’re going to join Reddit, bear in mind that any Redditor can go into your profile and see your activity (posts, comments, etc.) That’s one way that communities can suss out who just joined to take advantage of Reddit versus who’s actually participating in it in a valuable way.

Now let’s talk about the content. Like anything marketing related, you’re going to need a strategy for your Reddit outreach.

  • Focus on value and engagement: Like Jeff Cohen said, nobody clicks on boring. Whether you’re focusing on driving traffic to your site or just getting people talking about something related to your brand, remember that Redditors will click on things that get a rise out of them. (That’s why you’ll see back-to-back posts about NSA surveillance and someone’s new pet from /r/aww.)
  • The perfect fit: Take the time to research the subreddits that are the best match for your content. (This should help.) There are a lot of communities that overlap (e.g., /r/drums and /r/drumming), so make sure to find the most active one with the best fit. Bear in mind that each subreddit has its own sets of rules and expectations.
  • Be active: Respond to comments when it’s warranted, but be mindful that not everyone is going to play nice.
  • Visuals rule here too: Like most places on the web, visuals drive engagement. Reddit gives more real estate to posts with visuals.
  • Give credit where credit is due: We actually just wrote about this topic. Since Reddit can drive surges of traffic, Redditors are very sensitive about ensuring that the OP credits the original sources.
  • Transparency: At rbb, we’re big believers in transparency when it comes to any online marketing. You don’t have to plaster your Reddit profile with your work history, but if you are ever going to post or comment on something related to your or your client’s brand or industry, be transparent about your affiliation.

TL;DR – To get the most out of Reddit, marketers should invest the time to get to know their communities, become an authentic and valuable participator on Reddit and have a smart content strategy.


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