How to market and advertise on Reddit

Marketing and advertising on Reddit

Social sharing platform Reddit presents brands with underused opportunities to reach engaged audiences and share or seed content.

However, Reddit differs significantly from other social media platforms in purpose, format and content and users are notoriously anti-marketing and advertising, meaning brands need to rethink a one-size-fits-all social media strategy. 

Above all, creative and engaging content is king. To successfully market on Reddit, marketers must research and understand the subreddit communities that are relevant to their brand. Create and share new content that incorporates the subreddit’s lingo, submission format and in-jokes, and interact with users in an authentic way. 

What is Reddit and who uses it?

Founded in 2005, Reddit is a community forum platform where registered users discuss and share everything from news and current affairs to shower thoughts and cat pictures.

Self-described as “the front page of the internet”, the platform is divided into smaller topic-based communities called ‘subreddits’, often with their own customs, rules, lingo and moderators. With over 1.2 million subreddits and 430 million monthly active users in 2020, Reddit has successfully harnessed the power of community and become one of the top 10 most popular websites on the internet.

As an example of Reddit’s power, it was traders on subreddit r/wallstreetbets that created the galactic share price rise in GameStop’s stock price, forcing halts in trading and causing short sellers betting against it to lose millions.

Content on Reddit is curated by the community, who ‘upvote’ or ‘downvote’ posts and comments based on the perceived value they add to the conversation or thread. 

The number of upvotes minus the number of downvotes determines the content’s score or ‘karma’. Posts with more karma can make it onto Reddit’s front page, a snapshot of what is trending, and posts with lots of downvotes are deemed less relevant and pushed down by Reddit’s algorithm. 

Individual users also receive karma based on the frequency of their posts and comments and how their contributions were received and voted on by other users. 

In June 2020 a report by Hootsuite reported around 430 million monthly Reddit users. That’s more monthly users than both Twitter and Pinterest, 367 million and 326 million respectively. The demographic is heavily skewed towards young males. A 2016 report by Pew Research indicated that about seven-in-ten (71 per cent) of Reddit users are men, and 59 per cent of users are between the ages of 19 and 29. 

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Reddit marketing opportunities and challenges 

Reddit offers brands a significant opportunity to market to highly engaged niche communities and communicate directly with target audiences. 

However, unlike on other social media platforms, Reddit’s focus on community discussion means users are notorious for being highly critical of promotional content that disrupts authentic conversations. The voting system often sees branded content spammed with downvotes and removed by moderators. 

Reddit’s Self Promotion Guidelines emphasise that ‘Reddit is a community not a platform for self promotion’. Any promotional material must add value to the conversation, not hijack it to push sales. As a general rule, users should keep promotional material to less than 10 per cent of their submissions.

For every ten submissions, if more than one is promotional, Reddit will likely remove the posts as spam. Users must not manipulate the voting system by having users linked to the domain, such as employees, engage only with the brand’s content or by asking brand followers for upvotes, including via other social platforms.

Vote cheating or manipulation can lead to account bans and, in extreme cases, domains banned from the platform completely.  

So how can you use Reddit in your marketing?

Market Research:

Reddit offers marketers direct and unlimited access to the communities and individuals they are trying to target, meaning that it can be a useful market research tool. By locating, understanding and engaging with subreddits, you can better understand the interests, beliefs, likes, and dislikes of your target audience as well as the content they engage with and how. 

The platform offers brands a unique opportunity to become part of a community in order to create loyal customers and brand advocates. Brands should focus on being genuine participants in subreddits. Identifying the right subreddit for your brand takes research and the more time spent understanding the communities lingo, content-formats and in-jokes, the more effective your marketing efforts will be. 

Connect with Influencers:

Created in 2015 with the rise of influencer marketing, the Influencer Marketing Subreddit has become a hub of resources for both brands and influencers. Brand’s can post about upcoming campaigns and connect with micro-influencers as well as share influencer marketing trends, successes, failures and the dos and don’ts of the industry. Influencers also use the subreddit to reach out to brands, connect with other influencers, and share their experiences. 

Paid Advertising:

To implement paid advertising on Reddit, you’ll need to set up a Reddit Ads account where you can purchase ad space using a cost-per-click (CPC) bidding model. There are several ad formats available, with a minimum daily spend of 5 USD per ad. 

After setting up a company profile, and identifying relevant and well-trafficked subreddits, you can set up your Reddit advertising campaign. Like other social media platforms, you can target audiences by interest, location, device type, optimise for different goals such as conversions or video views, and set a CPM (cost per 1000 impressions) bid. You can also schedule your ad to appear at specific times, analyse performance and optimise. 

Promoted Posts are branded content pinned to the top of a subreddit page for maximum reach. Brands can also promote the posts of regular users by identifying posts they’d like to promote and contacting the Reddit sales team. The sales team will contact the original poster to get explicit permission to use the post in exchange in exchange for a lifetime subscription to Reddit Gold – which, ironically, allows users to disable ads. 

Companies can also pay to feature in the Trending Today module of Reddit’s Popular page as well as in the Trending Today dropdown of Reddit’s search bar. The feature lasts 24 hours. 

It is recommended that before implementing paid campaigns, brands engage with subreddits in a non-promotional way to build trust and brand awareness in the group.

Upvote and comment on user’s submissions that align well with your brand and share interesting and valuable content written by that you think is relevant to the group. Play the long game and establish yourself as an avid contributor to build familiarity and profile ‘karma’.

Influencer endorsement:

Influencers on Reddit do not exist in the same way as they do on other platforms. However, users with high levels of ‘karma’ do have clout and respect in their particular niche community. Engaging these users to promote your brand or seeking their permission to feature them in your own content can be an effective strategy. 

Another popular strategy is hosting AMAs (Ask Me Anythings) with popular celebrities or influencers where brands post AMA threads to relevant subreddits and encourage Reddit users to ask questions.

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