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

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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

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“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.

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