Reddit, the so-called “front page of the Internet,” is far more fertile ground for marketers than simply AMAs. Brent Csutoras, CEO of web design firm Pixel Road Designs, goes so far as calling Reddit “misunderstood.” But by learning a little more about the platform itself, as well as its users, marketers can harness Reddit to benefit both their brands, as well as Redditors themselves.
Here’s what marketers need to know to get the most out of Reddit:
1. Reddit Is Bursting At The Seams With Viral Content
“Reddit is probably the single source on the Web for things that go viral,” Csutoras said. Look no further than memes like sorority girl selfies, Overly Attached Girlfriend, or the unfortunate Benihana-esque engagement photo, to name a few. This means content has potential for huge visibility if a brand can find success on Reddit, Csutoras said. “It’s where people are finding the stories,” he said. “Journalists have been using it to break news for years. I get almost everything from Reddit.”
2. Reddit Is Growing
Further, Reddit has had significant and consistent growth, more so than any other social site. In fact, in March 2015, Reddit had 150 million unique visitors, which had grown to 203 million by October. “It’s an impressive audience, but it might not mean as much when you look at other channels with billions of users,” Csutoras added. Check out this graphic, designed by Pixel Road Designs, which provides some useful data on Reddit users:
3. Reddit Has A Desirable Audience Of Knowledge-Hungry Users
In addition to size, the Reddit audience has other desirable characteristics for marketers. Per Csutoras, that includes a median age of 35 and income of about $68,000. Further, 81 percent of Redditors are returning users who spend an average of 12 minutes on the site, 80 percent are English-speaking and 62 percent come to the site looking for news. While consumers use platforms like Facebook to connect with friends and family, they come to Reddit for another specific purpose. “Reddit has captivated that research-driven, educated audience that wants to discuss issues on a deep level,” Csutoras said. “The [Reddit] audience is large, it’s a great demographic and it’s the audience that makes everything go viral online.”
4. Reddit Is About Users, Not Profit
“Reddit has never been about profit,” he said. “It doesn’t have the same requirements as other sites.” Custoras doesn’t see this changing any time soon. In fact, he said the site has not been redesigned in six years, so its central purpose has not drastically changed. “I don’t see them going public and putting restraints on themselves,” he added.
5. Reddit Is Becoming More Welcoming To Outsiders
While Reddit users may have a reputation for being a bit of standoffish, particularly when it comes to outsiders, like, say, marketers, Csutoras said Reddit is changing its rules to be more accepting – such as replacing shadow bans, in which content is blocked from potential spammers or trolls, with account suspensions. However, Csutoras noted additional changes, such as the potential removal of a rule about self-promotion, as well as a new auction-style ad system, also indicate Reddit’s view on marketers is shifting. “From my many years on Reddit, there has been a clear shift in the way people views ads from being the worst thing ever to being quite accepted,” Csutoras said. “Companies are generally being better accepted and users are more interested in the ability to promote their content and grow their communities. So in general, we are just seeing more opportunity every day for brands and companies to have success on Reddit.” At the same time, Csutoras noted Reddit is never going to be a place brands can simply advertise they way they can in other communities, so marketers really have to know what they are doing and have a plan in place before tackling Reddit. So what exactly do marketers need to know to be successful on Reddit?
6. Marketers Must Find The Right Subreddit
In order to get the most out of Reddit, Csutoras said brands must connect with the right audience. “Reddit is software and subreddits are private groups based on Reddit software,” Csutoras said. “In a subreddit, the moderators aren’t working for Reddit. They work on their own rules and structures.” He used the example of the Toronto Wing Festival, which used the Toronto subreddit to promote the event. In an easy-to-digest tile, the festival mentioned the date and price, as well as that the event was all you can eat. As a result, 53 percent of consumers converted, the brand saw an 8,800 percent ROI and it drove five times the traffic, Csutoras said. “They just found the right subreddit and used a simple-to-read title,” Csutoras said. “It’s about getting a rapport and looking for the right opportunity.”
7. Marketers Must ‘Redditize’ Their Ads
When creating ads for Reddit, marketers need to create content specifically for Reddit and personalize it, Csutoras said. In other words, brands should talk directly to Redditors – such as saying, “Hey, Reddit,” or the like – or risk getting glossed over, he added. Csutoras also said Reddit-only contests specifically for the Reddit community are also a good way to encourage participation as Redditors know these contests are exclusively for them. That’s what Marriott did when posting about its #GetTeleported effort on Reddit. It also designed a Reddit-specific contest in which it asked users to tell the brand why their city was awesome for a chance to receive Marriott’s first teleporter. “They were speaking to the audience – ‘We have this cool product, maybe we’re a bit biased’ – so they made it jokingly,” Csutoras said. “[But they said,] ‘We think this is cool and want your opinion and want to run a contest just for Redditors.’” In addition, Csutoras said one of the keys was asking a question in the title, which drove a 60 percent higher CTR. Overall, the effort yielded 317 comments from Redditors who stayed fully engaged throughout, which, in turn, increased brand awareness.
8. Marketers Must Be Helpful On Reddit
But it’s not just asking questions. Brands can also engage Redditors by identifying pain points and then trying to solve those problems by inviting interaction and/or offering deals or coupons, Csutoras said. That’s what TransAmerica did with a Reddit-specific campaign that asked Redditors for suggestions on financial topics they’d like to know more about. “They said, ‘We understand there are discussions on Reddit,’ and connected the brand to Redditors – ‘We want to help you, so we are asking people to give suggestions on what they would like to know more about,’” Csutoras said. Further, TransAmerica used Reddit fonts and colors to emphasize the content was Reddit-specific and even included the Reddit alien in some posts. What’s more, TransAmerica reached out to each commenter to share the content that was created for them as a result of their posts. Csutoras said the brand walked away with increased brand awareness, content ideas, direct customer engagement, focus group feedback and tons of articles and links.
9. Marketers Must Constantly Monitor & Engage On Reddit
In addition, brands must not only participate in comments, they must monitor the channel constantly. “Keep the comments on – that’s part of the experience,” Csutoras said. “And you need to answer the comments. You need to check all the time and get into it. You need to participate. It’s not something you can post and then come back to later.” That, Csutoras said, was part of the problem with the REI AMA that recently went awry. “There’s nothing about anything in social media that should be easy, like ‘set and forget,’” he added. Further, brands on Reddit must embrace tough questions from Redditors. “They wait for you to ignore tough questions on Reddit so they can rip into you harder,” Csutoras said. “The quicker you answer, the less they have of an opportunity to strengthen their overall resolve.”
10. Marketers Must Use A Reddit-Appropriate Tone
It’s incredibly important brands choose the right person to interact with Redditors on their behalf. That person must not only be knowledgeable enough to answer questions, but also not rigid and boring, Csutoras said. Further, he or she must always maintain a lighthearted, good-natured tone and never get defensive. “Reddit doesn’t let you get away with being inferior or sloppy. On Reddit, they will tell you you’re doing a bad job,” Csutoras said. “But don’t get too defensive or emotional. That never works out. It’s best to be lighthearted. A lot of times, you have to appreciate the snarkiness and the banter and if you get defensive, they will drag you through the mud.”
11. Marketers Can Incentivize Redditors
In order to encourage participation, brands can offer to give participants incentives like Reddit Gold, which is Reddit’s premium membership service and gives users access to additional features. However, Csutoras cautions brands may want to limit the offer to a certain number of participants to avoid having to buy Reddit Gold for a huge number of commenters should a large number of responses come in. That is how whiskey brand Dewar’s solicited feedback for a video with a virtual walk-through of its distillery and ended up with 428 comments from engaged users who provided opinions, Csutoras said.