How To Reddit: A Practical Guide For Any Marketing Folks Thinking About Riding The Beast

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I originally wrote this material as a guide for the Appszoom content team to get started with reddit.

I’m already a redditor in my spare time (read: all the time), so it’s blindingly obvious to me that there’s huge potential to meaningfully connect with tons of people, really quickly. This is exactly what any decent business wants to do, too. A match made in heaven.

Only, reddit hates marketing.

Examples of marketing fails on reddit abound (see more: r/hailcorporate, plus this in-depth opinion article). If reddit decides your brand is full o’ Scheiße, it can be a huge stain on your reputation.

It’s a many-headed hydra of a community, one that its libertine users are proud of. They’ll reject any attempt to stamp your label on it.

This, combined with inner workings that can seem like a convoluted series of infinite rabbit holes, makes the barrier to entry sky-high for anyone hoping to establish a positive brand relationship with reddit.

And yet.


REDDIT: The Front Page Of The Internet

Cool stats to convince you why reddit is worth it:
Alexa rank: 42
6% of American online adults visit reddit
70 million unique users
731 million unique visitors in 2013
114.5 million monthly unique visitors in 2014
37 billion pageviews in 2012
56 billion pageviews in 2013

INXRgS0

For true beginners: Start with this two minute Mashable video answering “What the heck is reddit?

Reddit is a self regulating marketplace of ideas.

Super basics:

    • Anyone can register for free with just a username and a password.
      • It’s optional to link to an email.
      • Most people are anonymous.
      • It’s fine to have more than one account.
    • As a user, you have a front page that’s a feed of the current top posts in the subreddits you’re subscribed to.
      • You can also visit the individual subreddits to see only posts about one topic.
    • Anyone registered can post, comment, and vote.
      • POSTS should go in an appropriate subreddit.
        • Posts are either
          • text only with minimal formatting allowed, or
          • a link to an external site.
        • The bigger the subreddit, the bigger the traffic, the more demanding the audience, and the more chance your post will be buried.
        • The more niche the subreddit, the higher the chance of connecting with people who care about what you have to say (given that it’s relevant).
      • COMMENTS create threads within posts.
      • VOTING causes posts and comments to rise and sink.
        • You can upvote or downvote once per post/comment.
        • Posts/comments with high scores float to the top, those with very low scores will disappear.
  • The first 10 upvotes are weighted as heavily as the next 100. For visibility, quickly getting upvoted is more important than anything else.
      • You earn karma for whatever your content scores, which counts only towards your credibility on reddit (people WILL look at it).
        • Be forewarned that your post history is also easily viewable to anyone curious.
      • Time decay means newer posts more easily show up higher than older posts.
        • “A 12-hour-old post must have 10 times as many points as a brand new post to appear at similar ranks… any given story has a roughly a 24 hour max lifespan on any user’s front page.” – Erik Martin, founder

The absolute best way of learning HOW TO REDDIT is TO REDDIT.

As such, if you want to stop reading right now, groovy – here’s your homework:

  • Sign up for a reddit account.
  • Subscribe to subreddits. For the mobile industry, I’d recommend r/Android, r/AndroidGaming, r/iOS, r/iOSgaming… but reddit will work better if you also subscribe to subjects you’re genuinely interested in, so you can get the feel of how people actually talk there.
    • Note that you can also unsubscribe from any that you’re not interested in seeing. Personally, I’d keep ‘em all at the beginning just to see “what reddit talks about,” then get rid of ‘em as you go along.
  • Visit reddit for at least 15 minutes a day. I recommend lurking (aka looking without posting). It goes great with your morning coffee.
    • Click on all kinds of stuff. Reddit is full of discoverable layers. See how deep they go.
    • Check out how people talk to each other.
    • Look at what’s popular. Look at what gets voted down. Learn.
    • There are mobile apps if you’d like to browse on the train or wherever. The official one for iOS is Alien Blue, and a decent Android one is BaconReader (or here’s a widget).

Reddit Culture

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Reddit is one of the most diverse internet communities there is, and each of the subreddits has its own crowd, flavor, tendencies, and preferences. Spend plenty of time lurking in one to figure it out.

That said, there are also some general trends that you’ll see across the whole site:

  • High emphasis on learning and auto-didacticism.
    • Really famous subreddits are r/IAmA (“Ask Me Anything” – Obama spoke here!) and  r/AMA.
    • Figuring out the truth is really important, whether learning industry secrets about vacuum cleaners or uncovering hoaxes in the Play Store.
    • Intelligence and well-written, thoughtful responses are highly valued.
      • Grammar/spelling is very important.
      • People DO read every word of your post here.
      • There are tons of experts on reddit, so don’t bullshit – you’ll be called out on it.
  • If you’re not teaching something, you better be funny.
    • But, be careful – reddit has its own brand of humor.
      • A good portion of it is self-referential. Lurk more.
  • Reddit loves free speech and generally believes in the power of the people to self-regulate.
    • This results in some nastier corners of the internet finding a home here, so beware.
    • It also means every time you post something earnest and beautiful, someone is totally free to be a 100% jerkwad right back at you.
      • That said, MOST redditors are kind, and if you didn’t do something flagrantly wrong, they’ll downvote the meanie and defend you.
  • Redditors are 72% male.
    • The site’s got an infamous problem with misogyny. This is true for much of the nerd-dominated internet in general – not to say it’s okay, just common.
    • Most of the niche subreddits are fine and friendly and happy as Larry. Don’t worry actively about this point; just be aware of it, and don’t be shocked if you come across basement dwelling weirdos who think all ladies are the unholy spawn of Ursula.

More: An 8 minute video on reddit culture with short clips of interviews from the founders.
(there’s a long bit in here about reddit’s relationship with misogyny if you’re curious)


Reddit’s Relationship With Marketing

takemymoney

“If your website content tends to be more progressive, unique, curious or simply eye-candy, there’s a strong chance it will do well on Reddit. All social media sharing sites have their own underlying pulse – and if you can tap into that by posting relevant content, you’ll be rewarded with a massive boost in traffic. Remember that here, people are actively looking for something that piques their interest. Tailor your posts to meet that urge head-on, and you’ll start reaping heaps of traffic.”
Kissmetrics Reddit Marketing Guide

“It’s perfectly fine to be a redditor with a website, it’s not okay to be a website with a reddit account.” – Confucius
reddit’s official Guide To Self-Promotion

“Okay, I get it,” you think. “I’ll design some kind of viral marketing campaign so hip with the kids these days, and it’ll get upvoted into Valhalla! My boss will promote me and my wife will want to have sex with me again.”

reddit HATES overt marketing. period. don’t do it.

Success stories despite the odds:

GUIDES:

(although neither of these really helps a ton, honestly – I like the above KISSmetrics post much better)

Things reddit DOES like:

  • Real people representing themselves and their projects honestly, especially if they’re providing something actually valuable for the community for free.
    • Mobile devs fall into this category – they’re generally very well received.
    • It’s pretty simple to get people to test your stuff and give feedback, although they’re probably gonna be harshly honest (a good thing, if you can stomach it!).

My personal suggestions for Appszoom (and any small company/start-up) on reddit

  1. Do yer homework, as listed above. Personalize it. Settle in and get familiar. Then graduate to commenting on posts that legitimately interest you.
    • Remember that your history is available for everyone to see, so don’t put up anything that would cause us to blush – but it’s much, much better if you’re a human rather than repping a brand.
  2. Keep a lookout for trends, questions relevant to you, opportunities to use your unique resources to provide content reddit will love.
  3. Participate in relevant threads. Maybe dedicate 10 minutes each morning to providing a great response to someone. You’ll get noticed if you do the same thing again and again in the same subreddit.
    • One example from me in r/AndroidGaming. Yes, this took a bit to put together properly. It may look like there wasn’t that much interest, but that’s where you’d be wrong – there was a significant spike in traffic on those posts that day. If it were a busier thread, the effect would be exponential.
      • Careful about linking to your own content if it isn’t 10000% relevant. Don’t want to create a name for yourself as a spammer. Better to just post a straight-up answer and build your collective karma as a friendly expert than to force traffic for traffic’s sake.

These thoughts are put together with the long game in mind. Sure, you could just keep getting neato spikes in traffic, but real value would come from connecting with real users, taking their pulse, and providing them something of actual value.


Give reddit a go. Ask if you’re not sure about something. Invest some time and see what happens. Unless you make a major major error, the worst that can happen is that no one notices you at all.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you about that “rabbit hole” thing, though. I don’t want to know how many hours I’ve lost to r/youtubehaiku.

3 Mantras to Shape Winning Teams: Recruit Slow, Evaluate Fairly, and Fire Fast

Teamwork is the secret that makes common people achieve uncommon results.
– Ifeanyi Onuoha

I pay a lot to attention to the kind of people that I share my time with, both professionally and personally. It’s critical for me to surround myself with people of different backgrounds, ages, and beliefs, who challenge me intellectually and contribute to shaping who I am.

These are the three mantras I always have in mind when building teams.

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1. When recruiting, no rush

Having the right team around is always important, but in a tech startup, it is critical. In a startup, you should hire slow and fire fast.

Here’s my step-by-step recipe for filling positions, assuming there is no lack of talent (scarcity of professionals requires a whole different post):

  • Publish the job offer in a major job site and let your network know through social media. Use your team as a loudspeaker to reach more people.
  • If you are lucky enough to get a reference from one of your employees, go for this candidate first. Nobody would recommend a jerk to the boss. Half of the job you need to do is done when you reach an applicant through a team member.
  • Interview referrals ASAP – don’t lose momentum. I’ve seen a lack of proactivity from the company cool down the recruitment process, and the chances to get the right candidate decrease.
  • If no personal referrals pop up, scan as many CVs as possible. Normal numbers would be around 60-70 appropriate résumés. At Appszoom, we don’t have an HR department, so we need to do this ourselves. But that’s cool, as it allows you to have a better idea of the talent available in the market, and even to adapt your position slightly according to the people you find.
  • Pick 10 to 12 people that might fit the position and ask them to run an online test. Design the test with care: it should require some effort, but don’t make them feel they are working for free. It should be something directly related to the position. In my experience, a surprising 20-30% of candidates applying for a job have not answered this e-mail with the test request.
  • Read the tests and call the ones that 1) look like they know how to do the job and 2) show a high level of effort and dedication. You might end up needing to interview 7-8 people.
  • As for the actual interview process, long story short: ask the candidates to hold as many interviews with the team as possible. With their future boss, with the CEO, with other team members in other departments, and, especially, with the team they might be joining. The opinion of the team is key to decide who comes on board.
  • Gather everybody’s feedback and make a decision. If you believe you have the right team, never recruit somebody they have not chosen. If you don’t believe in your team, then feel free to hire the one they want the least. 🙂

As a colleague once told me, the goal is to avoid getting PUREs on board (Previously Undetected Recruiting Errors) that you’ll have to dedicate resources to deal with down the road.

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 2. Evaluate teams using the magic quadrant

I use this quadrant to evaluate existing teams and take action to make them grow. It has two axes: 1) How much people share the company’s values, and 2) How well people’s skills fit the job to be done.

VALUES MATCH People to train and create a development plan for People to retain and always keep motivated and developed
VALUES MISMATCH Fire Fire, even if they don’t understand why
LACKING SKILLS        FITTING SKILLS

Let’s start with the easy ones: people whose values don’t fit the company and who don’t have the skills to do their job. These people should know that they belong to this quadrant to give them the chance to change. But if they acquire skills extremely fast and show an honest change in terms of values, the job of the team leaders is to let them go ASAP.

Then, we have people who fit the culture but lack the skills to do their job at 100%. If your culture involves continuous improvement and learning, you should have quick learners around. Create a development program for them and let them lead it, as we do in our peer-review process. If you set specific goals and deadlines, most people reach their targets and grow.

The most challenging group of people is on the top right-hand side, who fit the company’s culture perfectly and excel at their job. Presenting engaging challenges, letting them explore new areas of expertise, and rewarding them by using them examples for others are just a few of the things you have to do with them. This is the core of a team you trust to lead your startup to success.

And last, but not least, the hardest ones to deal with: people who are excellent at their job and use their technical performance as a shield to keep behaving as they please, rather than how the team has agreed upon when defining the company’s culture. These guys deserve to know where they are, too, to give them the opportunity to change. However, in my experience, hardly anybody is able to honestly behave according to the company’s values if they’re not similar to what they believe personally.

exit1

3. Fire fast and fair

I believe everybody deserves at least three opportunities to change, no matter the circumstances. To have a real opportunity, the person needs to be aware of the present situation (the quadrants can be very handy to make yourself understood as a team leader). Giving proper feedback and setting clear expectations is the most candid way to give real opportunities when you need people to change. 

Before you start setting a plan to give someone an opportunity: you should only invest all this time and effort if YOU trust in this person’s capacity to change. If, from the very beginning, you believe this is a waste of time, it will be, no question. It might be better just to let the person go immediately. A false opportunity is a lot worse than no opportunity at all.

Let’s assume we do give someone an opportunity. In my experience, three months are normally enough of a time frame to see if the person shows signals of change. Here’s a step-by-step process for such a case:

  • Tell the person that the team needs him to change. State specifically what’s wrong and give feedback in a structured manner.
  • There might probably be different reactions to this conversation: anger, denial, surprise… Give the person time to react and follow up on the conversation in a couple of days. Sometimes people just need time to process what’s going on.
  • If you have stated the potential consequences clearly, the person should declare if this is an opportunity he wants to use or not. Sometimes this conversation is just what people are hoping for to start a search for a better match somewhere else.
  • Write a plan together. Your job is to set the expectations:
    • What the person’s purpose is within the organization,
    • What the expected outcome will be in three months’ time (with weekly/monthly milestones), and
    • What the criteria for success will be.
    • His job is to write down a plan of concrete actions he will accomplish in the following weeks to check for meeting your expectations.
  • Finally, give real time feedback every time you have the opportunity – both when it’s good news and when it’s not good news. If at the end of three months, the person has not fulfilled your expectations, asking him to leave shouldn’t be a surprise.

Letting people go is always hard. But there are two things I always keep in mind to help me do this part of my job when I have to: 1) The peace of mind that the person has had a real opportunity, and 2) knowing that by asking somebody who doesn’t fit to leave, we leave room for a talented person to join and make history with us.

How to register an app on the Amazon Appstore

Why should I bother?

Admittedly, the Amazon Appstore is not the biggest of players yet. But why turn your back on an extra distribution channel?

The Amazon Appstore is growing everyday. It caters to more and more affordable devices worldwide, including both the Kindle and also Android users (version 1.6 and up).

Also, the app submission process is extremely simple for free apps, and the Amazon team app validation process is surprisingly quick. We received approval overnight.

Read on for a step-by-step guide to registering your app in the Amazon Appstore.

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How To Create A Corporate Culture In 1 Month (No Consultants Needed!)

All the documents mentioned in this post are accessible to anyone. We’ve provided links to copies on Google Drive.


 

Before joining Appszoom, I had the privilege of having several interviews with its A-team members to make sure I could make a difference if I decided to come and work for this company. In all these interviews, I had a conversation similar to this:

– Do you have an Appszoom culture that you could describe to me?
– No, there is nothing here like an Appszoom Culture.
– Then, you don’t mind if I destroy whatever way you have of doing things?
– No, don’t destroy it!!! We don’t know how to describe it, but what we have is cool; we want to keep it and even improve it!

I knew that having a clear corporate culture that we could all share was one of my first tasks as an Appszoomer. But I didn’t actually want to be the one defining the culture, since I was the most recent one to join, and as such the one that knew the least about it!

Here’s a step-by-step process of what we did.

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How to design and embed a custom timeline slider in your website with Timeline JS

As part of the project to define, develop and foster our own company’s culture, we have crafted a welcome kit we are proudly handing over to the new members of the team.

The Appszoomer Ultimate Survival Guide (that’s the humble name we’ve given to it) is in web format and teaches the newbies the basics of our company: our history, our mission and values, our jargon, and our daily routine.

survival-blog

Developing the Survival Guide in a landing page format was both fun and a learning process. However, we had to deal with some design crunches. One of them was how to create and embed a Javascript-based timeline for the history section.

Fortunately, we came across an excellent solution: Timeline JS.

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Linux Execute Cron Job After System Reboot

Crontab is a program used in linux to execute schedule scripts.

If you need to run one script after rebooting the server you can use @reboot.

@reboot /path/to/job
@reboot /path/to/shell.script
@reboot /path/to/command

Why Every Office Should Communicate Using GIFs

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Although this isn’t the first (nor will it be the last) post that we write using GIFs, this is something that many people find weird, especially the newbies. And we don’t do it because we’re just that cool, either.

Rather, we do it because GIF’ are usually found in emails between colleagues, safe from the judging eyes of bosses, big chiefs, or badass head honchos of every kind. In the outside world, GIFs are fun, and that makes them a perceived danger to productivity.

model

But in Appszoom, GIFs are everywhere. They fly from right to left and they go up and down, they’re free and they don’t hide themselves. Here we call them GIF like in “to give” ([/gɪv/]), and we don’t care what CNN says, or what Obama says, or how the creators say about how we should pronounce it (see here).

There are many reasons to use GIFs, and we’re about to explain most of them.

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Thinking in Cycles: Expansive and Reductive Brainstorming Sessions

Brainstorming Sessions are awesome

If you ever feel uninspired and you think you really need to start from scratch to look at things from a different perspective, it’s probable that a good brainstorming session could help solve that problem.

brainstorming-sessions

What to know about brainstorming sessions

Before you actually do one, you need to get familiar with the two main types of thinking processes that exist.

  • Expansive thinking: Also known as “thinking outside of the box,” where you have no limitations and you’re free to propose any idea, no matter how crazy it sounds.
  • Deductive thinking: the most common type of thinking, where you take whatever has been brought up in the expansive thinking process and limit it and simplify it.

A great brainstorming session requires both processes in order to work. A great crazy idea probably can’t be translated directly into reality, but no awesome ideas ever came from thinking inside the box.

brainstorming-sessions

What to do in a brainstorming session

1. Preparing the session

  • Choose a project to work on and create a few briefings or proposals.
  • Gather together and split in groups of 3-4 persons maximum.
  • Divide in groups so each group is brainstorming about a different briefing.

2. Expansive thinking session

  • Choose a moderator – you can all take turns – who will take notes of all the ideas. Drawings are recommended! This person will also tell off anyone who’s acting reductively.
  • Go to somewhere you feel comfortable and begin to brainstorm the first idea.
  • After one person speaks, the others need to expand on that idea until you have nothing else to say.
  • Then, it’s another one’s turn and the process begins again.
  • Don’t forget to name all the ideas to be able to explain them later.

3. Reductive thinking session

  • Let the ideas from the brainstorming session rest for a few days.
  • Create a short list of 5 limitations that would measure an idea’s viability (for example: $1,000 budget, 1 week’s time, 10 person team, global reach, available technical resources).
  • Gather together again and work on another group’s idea
  • Try to be as reductive as possible and score every idea by using a Stargazer, measuring each variable based on how it adapts to it (for example, if you need $1,000,000 to make something happen, it will score really low).

Brainstorming-Session-Starblazer

  • Decide which ideas are the most viable and which ones aren’t. Make sure you note any ideas that might be worth saving because their limitations can be solved by using more reductive thinking.
  • Out of the chosen ones: adopt an idea which particularly interests you and create an MVP.

What I’ve Learned About SEO So Far

As my colleague Janel explained in her previous post, I’m working on my peer review process as well. My goal is clear: I want to learn everything I possibly can about SEO. I want to be able to step up and do my best in case they need someone to help out. I want to think SEO and talk SEO and walk SEO.

Our User Acquisition Manager, Céline (or SEOline, as we like to call her), has been preparing interesting and complete educational units every week so I can refresh my knowledge, do some exercises, and learn new techniques which I hadn’t heard of before.

Here’s what I recommend you start with if you want to learn SEO. 

Read this long but thorough beginners’ guide to SEO, which tries to explain what the heck SEO means, plus why it’s important for websites. It explores the basics of search engines and how we interact with them.

Subscribe to renowned websites specialized in SEO knowledge. A great example is Search Engine Land, which offers a detailed newsletter including everything you should read about SEO news and changes.

It’s important to have a clear idea which factors are taken into account when ranking pages in Google. The best you can do is to watch this dynamic video, which will quickly teach you the basics.

Some of the factors are pretty obvious (keywords, content quality, links), but others like freshness (publishing regularly and whenever your content requires it) and diversity (the search engine will try to show a diversity of results) are less intuitive and great to know.

A website requires crawling, indexing, and ranking to reach its audience through search engines. In order for the spiders to crawl your website correctly, you should consider structure, sitemaps, and blockers.

Use your company’s website as an example and draw a sketch of its hierarchy. Submit sitemaps for the pages you want to prioritize. Above all, make sure you’re not doing anything which can damage the process, like duplicated content and internal, irrelevant, outdated pages.


To be continued as I keep learning…

 

 

Experience with the Appszoom Peer Review Process

A group can only learn and grow on the basis of its individuals stretching their wings.

One of the things lean start-ups are able to do much better than bloated old school big business is directly connect the personal growth of its participants to the growth of the company. One of our Appszoom values is Fearlessness, a big part of which is plunging our hands deep into the thick of the unknown. That holds true whether we’re trying out a brand new review format, developing SEO training sessions for each other, or honing our interpersonal skills.

To this end, all of us are going through a peer review process. It’s designed so that each gets out of it just exactly what he or she puts into it.

I’m introspective by nature, so I leapt at the chance to intersect my personal growth with professional development. Here’s my experience through the steps of the Appszoom peer review process.

All materials used in this process are available at the end of this post.

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