Guest Post by Trevor Davis
With all the social media platforms out there marketers are always on the lookout for the next tool to reach consumers. They have perfected this art on Twitter and Facebook, have moved on to apps like Instagram and are experimenting with Snapchat. But what they don’t realize is that they might have skipped over one of the most popular and highly trafficked websites ever, www.reddit.com.
What is Reddit? Why should I be using Reddit?
“I just went to www.reddit.com and have no idea what I am looking at.” These were the thoughts running through my mind when I first started visiting Reddit a few years ago. Now I have made Reddit part of my daily routine and can’t even remember what the Internet was like before it.
Reddit is a website founded by University of Virginia roommates Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian in the summer of 2005 and features content that comes directly from the users. This allows registered members to vote and down-vote content of literally, and I mean literally, any topic people want.
Before I talk about how Reddit could be successfully used to promote a product or business, you need to understand the basics of Reddit. Because Reddit is a website of user-generated content, all posts and links and pictures you see are posted by actual people like you and me and not by a team at Reddit’s offices in San Francisco. The front page of Reddit shows you what the most popular posts are at that time of the day and can range from informative to downright absurd.
While this might sound a bit confusing, hold on because you might not realize how much traffic Reddit generates. Reddit statistics show that they average about 150 million page views per month and around 5 million per day. That is a lot of people. That would be like if every citizen of Colorado logged onto the same website every single day all year long.
Getting Started and Understanding the ‘Subreddit’ Culture
So how does Reddit sort this mess? Well Reddit breaks down into subreddits (shown as r/subreddit). Subreddits allow you to personalize your Reddit experience. Don’t want to look at the general page of what is popular? You can filter your page so when you log on the majority of the posts you see come from the subreddits you choose. For example, r/worldnews, r/stocks, r/UniversityofVirgina, and r/sports are some of mine.
Go to www.reddit.com and make an account (it is free and takes all of thirty seconds). Choose a username wisely because you won’t be able to change it afterwards. Familiarize yourself with Reddit and the front page. The layout is unique but easy to navigate. Click on some posts that you find interesting just to get a feel. Click on the comments of the post. The comments can be more entertaining or informative than the actual post itself!
Now that you’ve dipped your Reddit toe in the water, use the search function and type in something you are interested in. “Politics” and “Sports” are generic ones but will show you the type of content Redditors are interested in. If you come across a topic or post you want to comment on, be warned that some Redditors can be rude and troll-like.
Next you should start subscribing to certain subreddits that you find interesting. This way when you log in the top posts will be not only the top post in general but will cater towards your interests and make the whole process more streamlined and personalized.
Using Reddit to Promote Your Clients
That stuff is all great. You get it. You can log onto Reddit and use their search feature and type in oil painting or leadership or your city (r/Baltimore is great) but how can a growing business or marketing team promote a client?
Like I said, there are subreddits for everything and although self-promotion posts will get down-voted, if you create a post that is unique, informative and not blatantly promotional you will see people take interest in your work. I have seen posts created by users that promote unique ideas that are presented in a helpful and attention-grabbing way. For example an idea for building solar powered roadways went viral after being posted onto r/videos and helped their funding greatly.
Redditors really appreciate and react positively to high quality posts. Posts that look sloppy and last-minute will not generate nearly as much traffic as a post that is easy to navigate, lucid and entertaining (pictures and videos are key in text heavy posts).
Do you consider yourself an expert in your field? By contributing to the community you can establish yourself or your client as a trustworthy and reliable source of information.
People often go to Reddit to ask questions and since Reddit has an anonymity factor answers are sometimes taken with a grain of salt. Cross-promoting is tricky on Reddit and usually works best externally (i.e. you should post something on Reddit and use your Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram platforms to direct your followers to the post). This way people can confirm the answer came from you (the expert), but you also need to be aware of Reddit’s self-promotion rules or risk getting labeled as a spammer.
Maybe your client is an author. You can use r/IAmA (commonly known as ask me anything) for a live Q and A between the author and the fans while promoting a new book. Perhaps you are working with a restaurant or client in the food industry. The subreddit r/food loves new recipes or just high quality food pictures that could transition into helping your client gain more concrete followers on Instagram or Facebook. A great case study involves Sue Sullivan who used the power of Reddit to jumpstart her company in the sauces industry and her sauce is now sold in supermarkets across the country.
With 150 million monthly page views driven by people interested in content, you could be missing out on an easy way to get your message in front of an important audience. So take that first step so you can say you “read it on Reddit” (the origin of the name) and find out how your company or idea can be part of the conversation.
About the author: A daily Reddit user, Trevor Davis is a third-year student at the University of Virginia.