Reddit is difficult to ignore. Calling itself “the front page of the internet,” it features discussion forums, or subreddits, that cover almost every topic imaginable. It even has subreddits for PR and marketing pros.
In its yearly review, Reddit says it has more than 330 million monthly active users, nearly 150,000 active communities, and 14 billion views per month. Engagement jumped 22% this year and page views jumped 30%. It has redesigned its interface, cleaned up hateful forums, introduced native video features, and improved advertising offerings.
Unfortunately, in the past, Reddit was not exactly friendly to brands or PR or marketing. The common strategy of constantly posting links to product announcements met with failure. Even more than other social media users, redditors (as Reddit users are called) quickly spotted and lambasted anything that resembles PR or marketing.
Even now, some Reddit groups are dedicated to nothing but criticizing and mocking large brands. One thread, or subreddit, Hail Corporate, reports any commercialism or suspiciously promotional posts Redditors find on the network.
Although a small amount of self-promotion may be acceptable, the site’s guidelines bluntly state that Reddit is not a forum for business promotions. Violators may be banned and suffer a brand-damaging scandal that spreads beyond Reddit.
Although some brands have experienced difficulties in the past, they can obtain valuable results with the appropriate current approaches. Nissan achieved a huge PR victory after it sold the first car through Amazon and photos of the world’s largest Amazon box traveling for delivery become popular on the network.
How to Succeed on Reddit
Experts offer these tips for PR pros and their brands considering Reddit.
- Be careful of being promotional. “Trying to be too stiff and market-y can be a turn off.”
- Be casual – show redditors that there are faces and real people behind your company,” states Reddit’s “brandiquette” guide for brands.
- Be thick-skinned. Redditors are known to be outspoken. Rather than taking offense, try to learn from criticism.
- Review its “pressiquette” and self-promotion guidelines that cover posting, sourcing content and other topics. Be sure to also read rules of individual subreddits. You can get the most out of Reddit by following its rules and respecting its culture.
- Don’t just link to your corporate site. Simply submitting your links is unwelcome. They may be removed as spam or your account could be banned. Submit from a variety of sources — ideally 10% or less of your posts and conversation should link to your own content.
- Research how your brand stands on Reddit and your potential audience on the forum before embarking on PR or marketing. Start by simply entering your company name and keywords into its search function.
- Ask Me Anything (AMA) forums, Reddit’s free-form Q and A sessions, present both an opportunity and a risk. Some succeed; some are notorious failures. The best AMAs are genuine, engaging and transparent. Organize with subreddit moderators in advance and learn how to avoid PR pitfalls of AMA sessions.
- Consider advertising. Reddit has enhanced its advertising products in recent years. For instance, it introduced a self-service ad platform with a cleaner interface and improved measurement of advertising results. Reddit says its users are heavy online spenders and more brands are interested in advertising on the platform.
Social Media Monitoring & Measurement
Social media listening and social media analytics may provide the most valuable PR and marketing benefits from Reddit.
“In fact, the quality of conversation on Reddit, and the aversion to promotional content, makes it a fantastic tool for social marketers to know what’s happening both with your brand and the industry at large,” argues Hayley Jennings at PR News. “Trends often start on Reddit before going viral on Facebook or Twitter, so investing in monitoring there can help you stay ahead of the curve.”
Because of its user-rating system, the site has significantly fewer fake profiles and bots that plague other social media networks. That means it produces more accurate market research.
The thousands of subreddits offer in-depth discussions on niche topics that can reveal consumers’ honest feelings about a company and its competitors. Companies with a very particular target audience may find the forums especially valuable. Rather than risk redditors’ ire by promoting products, marketers can ask for their feedback on their content or products.
With media monitoring, Reddit can serve as a PR crisis warning tool. PR firms can identify issues for clients, who can respond quickly to rumors or distortions. PR pros can also view Reddit to find the most popular or trending stories of the day.
Marketers who plug products on Reddit “are verbally disemboweled,” but they can still reap extensive research benefits, says Clare McDermott, head of strategy at Mantis Research.
“Reddit is a veritable gold mine of information relevant to your area of expertise, your audience, and your business,” McDermott writes for the Content Marketing Institute. “The number of subreddits on Reddit is so vast, it’s impossible NOT to find a community that matches your audience and its interests.”
Bottom Line: Redditors quickly rebuke PR or marketing promotions. But companies can obtain valuable marketing and PR research by monitoring its specialized discussion forums. PR and marketing pros with the right skills can benefit from the network’s enormous user base and its thousands of subreddits that cover almost every topic imaginable.
This post was first published on March 11, 2016, and updated on Dec. 7, 2018, 2018.
William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, media measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.