With about 430 million active users per month, social site Reddit became the seventh most-visited site in the U.S. in 2020, according to Websitebuilder.org. After receiving $250 million in late-stage funding earlier this year, Reddit announced plans to expand its footprint internationally and to invest new capital in areas such as video and consumer products. Part of Reddit’s investment in growth also includes doubling its workforce by the end of 2021.
Given its popularity and plans to accelerate growth, not surprisingly, more businesses are seeking to establish a presence on the site. At the same time, Reddit is positioned as a platform that is highly credible because all content is created by unpaid “Redditors” with a high degree of autonomy, meaning businesses must tread carefully on the platform.
Open promotional messages are not apt to go over well on the site, which is viewed by users as go-to spot to find memes, news and viral content that is often crowdsourced from all over the internet. In addition, users can vote on all aspects of posts and freely make comments, bringing in a high level of interaction and a spirit of democracy.
The importance of communities, subreddits
Reddit offers countless subreddits, which are communities centered around a specific subject. For example, “automobiles” is a subreddit, as is something as esoteric as “alloy block V8s of 1960-70.”
The more popular subreddits tend to develop their own culture and rules over time, which are mostly unwritten and followed by users whenever they are interacting with one another. A common differentiator is that one subreddit might be open to expletives whereas another might strictly monitor profanity.
To tap into Reddit, businesses must start with meaningful discussions on an applicable subreddit
In the past, not many business entities cultivated a presence on Reddit. But the platform’s staggering popularity and unique culture have begun to change this. The businesses that find success on Reddit tend to be those with a dynamic and proactive approach that syncs with the site’s direct, user-oriented environment.
Apart from paid advertising on the site, which functions the same as on any other site, companies that want to appeal to Reddit users must develop engaging content that doesn’t come across as a sales pitch. Reddit interactions focus on discussions. Conversations must be relevant, or the comments will be downvoted and removed.
Below are a few ways in which you can leverage the world of Reddit for your business
Organic growth: Small businesses can use Reddit to organically grow and reach customers through relevant subreddits. Doing so entails traversing a fine line by avoiding posts that evoke a sales pitch.
The first task is to find a subreddit that is related to your business, and then to participate. Offer valuable information and initiate meaningful conversation. Do not try to hasten the process by pushing the name of your company.
Maintaining a high-quality presence will boost your credibility but typing a marketing pitch into a subreddit will make you look like someone out to make a buck off the internet and in turn lead users to spurn your comments. How do you get credibility? You get it by earning “karma” points, which can be loosely translated to points toward your trustworthiness.
For instance, if users like your post or comments, they can award you with karma points. Accumulating karma points is something to be very proud of in the Reddit-verse. The more karma points you have, the more seriously users take you.
Research: Reddit contains a treasure trove of information for researchers and marketers alike. There are more than 100,000 subreddits on the site, each dedicated to a niche topic with their own dedicated followers. If anyone, including a business, seeks information or knowledge about a particular subject, all they have to do is join a corresponding forum.
If a subreddit doesn’t exist yet, create one to get the ball rolling. Ample insights informed by potentially insider-level knowledge can be found for those willing to put in the work by paying close attention to users’ posts. Subreddits can be considered akin to a focus group run by a moderator, offering valuable information for business owners.
Reddit advertising: Traditional advertising on Reddit is a double-edged sword. When you advertise on Reddit, it will always be pinned to the top of the page where you request placement. So, if you are advertising a certain type of motorcycle, it will be advertised in the forum or a forum close to it. This provides good targeted marketing, as Reddit also functions on a views-per-thousand system rather than a clicks-per-thousand model, which brings your advertising costs down.
However, take note that every post on Reddit can be voted up or down by users, and that includes ads. Sometimes ads on Reddit may be scrolled over. But those that catch the ire of Redditors are apt to be reviled for violating the community. Test the waters with your Reddit ads before going in for a full-fledged campaign.
Reddit’s demographics, competitive set: About 58% of Redditors are from 18 to 34 years old, and the platform is perceived by users as highly trustworthy. This can be beneficial for small businesses seeking to directly engage with customers, particularly with millennials and Generation Z.
Although Reddit is far behind Twitter, Facebook and Instagram in terms of advertising, more brands are starting to take note. Small brands tend to be favored as the underdog and are more apt to catch the interest of Redditors.
A challenger-like attitude can truly rally the subreddit community. Case in point: GameStop. The gaming retailer did not advertise or have a presence on Reddit. Yet GameStop was construed as an underdog worth rooting for by many Redditors who had experienced positive interactions with the company.
A slew of Reddit users snapped up shares of the struggling retailer, taking on Wall Street investors who were betting on the company’s failure While some participants said they believed in the company’s future, others were excited at the prospect that Wall Street's bad bets would cost institutional investors money. And therein lies the power of Reddit, the feisty platform where users run the show.