Reddit is the most powerful marketing channel on the internet.
Yep, even more powerful than Facebook and Twitter.
In fact, a huge portion of the content that you see on Facebook and Twitter was shared first on Reddit.
In fact, a huge portion of all internet content that ends up going viral is shared first on Reddit.
In fact, this is so common that there are many memes poking fun at this fact:
For daily Reddit users such as myself, Reddit is not only where we find the latest and most interesting/entertaining content, it has also replaced all other news sources as the go-to place for breaking news.
Facebook and Twitter are great for keeping up with the people you care about, but if you want to get the best or most entertaining content as quickly and efficiently as possible, you go to Reddit.
For this very reason, Reddit’s slogan is “The front page of the internet“.
It’s the modern-day equivalent of checking the newspaper, except way better, because there is always fresh content that’s been voted up or down by users of the site, so you only see the best of the best.
Instead of drinking from the firehose of good and bad content on Facebook and Twitter, Reddit users have already done the work of sifting through it all for you to find only the best stuff.
What in the world is Reddit?
One of my favorite Youtubers, CGP Grey, has an excellent, informative and concise video about exactly what Reddit is, and how it works:
I can’t explain it better than that, but I will add that Reddit is basically the most free-market, capitalistic website on the internet.
Once a piece of content is posted, users of the site vote it up if they like it, or down if they think it sucks, and only the best content makes to the top.
There are no editors or gatekeepers. Everything on the website is user-submitted, and the users themselves determine what lives or dies.
In addition, Reddit is split up into different groups, called “sub-reddits” based on different topics.
These are basically small niches of people who are all passionate about the same thing.
You can select any sub-reddit, and see only the best content centered around that topic.
There’s a sub-reddit for nearly everything; from cute pictures, to Entrepreneurship, to video games, to investing, to productivity tips.
If you want your content to rise to the top, and get the maximum amount of attention, is has to be really, really good, and provide a lot of value to Reddit users (known as “Redditors”).
So, who are these Redditors that are determining which content rises to the top, and what do they care about?
Who uses Reddit?
Social Media Marketing 101 will tell you that, no matter what social media website you are attempting to market on, the #1 thing you must do first is understand the unique atmosphere, terminology, and etiquette of each site, what the demographic of the users is, and what they care about.
Only then can you create content that users will resonate an engage with, and pay attention to.
If you want to get noticed on these platforms, you have to adapt your content to “fit” each one.
According to Google, the average Reddit user is between 18–29 years of age (though the 30-49 group isn’t that far behind), and is connecting from the United States (68%). Redditors are about 59% male, and 41% female.
In other words, Reddit is the website for millennials.
Why should you care?
Millennials currently make up over 25% of the United States population, and over 20% of consumer discretionary purchases, which accounts for over a trillion spending dollars.
Reddit, the place where these millennials hang out, is the 9th most popular website in the US, and the 33rd most popular website on planet earth, according to Alexa.
Reddit is enormous.
If your brand isn’t reaching Reddit’s audience, you’re messing up big time, and leaving a ton of money on the table.
With this in mind, why aren’t more brands marketing on Reddit?
Reddit Hates You
While Reddit is the most powerful marketing channel on the internet, it is also the most dangerous.
Shameless self-promotion, which marketers are infamous for, receives a special kind of scorn and hatred on Reddit.
Redditors can smell marketers from a mile away, and are suspicious of anything that sounds even remotely like a sales pitch.
In fact, there is no quicker way to get laughed off the site than to give off the impression that you’re there just to exploit the site to make money.
Because Reddit is a place that rewards humor, if you are sniffed out as a marketer on Reddit, you will be mocked in the most brutally hilarious way for thinking you can trick Redditors into falling for your thinly-veiled PR stunt.
Redditors are, for the most part, college-educated and intelligent, and if you insult their intelligence, you will pay for it.
Redditors are completely justified in reacting this way. Marketers ruin everything, and if Reddit is filled with nothing but self-promotion and spam, the site will end up like every other thing marketers have ruined.
Redditors know this, and they will bring out the pitch forks and fight to the death to keep the content on Reddit as high quality and valuable as possible, because they care about their community.
If you don’t contribute value to the community, you will be quickly rejected.
Reddit isn’t necessarily anti-brands.
Reddit is anti-crappy content.
I can’t understate this; if you go on Reddit just to get something out of it for yourself, you will likely do irreparable harm to your brand.
Reddit: Woody Harrelson’s Worst Nightmare
I love Woody Harrelson as an actor. However, he all but destroyed his own reputation, and the reputation of his movie Rampart in the minds of many Reddit users by trying to use Reddit for purely selfish reasons.
Celebrities frequently participate in what are called “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) events on Reddit, where any Reddit user can ask any question (and I mean any question), and the celebrity can answer directly to the community.
If the celebrity answers the question honestly and authentically, and provides interesting insight or opinions, they are all but guaranteed to win over Reddit, and create a massive amount of goodwill.
Even better, if done right, the community won’t mind at all if the celebrity plugs whatever project they’re currently working on once the AMA is over. In fact, the Reddit community often warmly embraces such things.
If the celebrity does what Woody Harrelson did when trying to promote the movie Rampart, however, they will go down in a ball of flames.
In Woody’s AMA, the questions quickly poured in from all over the world, and things went south very fast.
A question about an alleged hookup was met with this response from Woody:
Another user, Rasalom, also spoke up:
“So it’s more of an advertisement, not ask you anything?”
Here are some more golden moments:
No matter what the question, Woody was going to cram his movie down Reddit’s throat:
And he was skewered for it:
This inspired countless memes about the now-infamous incident:
On the flip-side, many celebrities have had resounding success by contributing value, and being open, honest and authentic with the Reddit community in their AMAs, such as Bill Gates.
In fact, I earned a huge amount of respect for actor Tim Roth who, in yesterday’s AMA, stated honestly, multiple times, that he sometimes takes terrible acting jobs solely for money to provide for his family.
How to Market on Reddit (and Survive the Encounter)
Don’t market on Reddit.
Reddit is all about value and authenticity. Marketing, in the traditional sense, is neither of those things.
So, for your own sake, don’t do it.
We succeeded on Reddit because we became Redditors, not marketers.
Instead of marketing on Reddit the old fashioned way, we used Gary Vayernuk’s Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook method:
“Your story needs to move people’s spirits and build their goodwill, so that when you finally do ask them to buy from you, they feel like you’ve given them so much it would be almost rude to refuse.”
In my post entitled “Stop Selling, Start Helping“, I wrote:
Don’t broadcast why you’re so awesome and why everyone should buy from you. No one cares.
Find out what your prospective customer’s problems are, and attract them to you by providing them the solutions. Give them massive value. Talk about the things they actually care about. Tell stories they’re actually interested in.
This will create fiercely loyal customers of your brand that will buy from you because they simply have your back. You’ve been a good friend to them, and they want to see you succeed.
That’s it. Just be authentic, and generously provide value. Help people.
Don’t be a marketer. Be a good person.
This requires a different approach to the one I see many, many entrepreneurs, salespeople, and business thought leaders taking online and offline.
If you have the typical, sleazy car salesman approach on Reddit, you will be eaten alive.
If you talk like you’re in a TV commercial, exaggerate, or appear contrived, self-seeking, or superficial in any way, you will be eaten alive.
If you act the way people at business networking events act (like creepy, flesh-covered, business card-dispensing robots), you will be eaten alive.
Reddit requires an entirely different approach, and here it is:
Be a real person.
I said in the beginning that Reddit is the most powerful marketing channel on the internet.
How do I know? Because, I launched a business and gained almost all of my initial customers from Reddit, for free.
Here is the first post I ever submitted to Reddit.
In this post, I simply shared every single tactic and tool we used to launch our business from scratch in only 2 months.
We got a tremendous amount of feedback, and even though I never really plugged our business, many people sought us out, and became our customers from day 1.
I was even able to connect to a few entrepreneurs locally who saw the post, and build some awesome relationships.
After that, our “0 to 6 Figures in 1 Year: Lessons Learned” post was even more successful.
This second post got nearly 600 upvotes, compared to 93 for the first post.
This post became the #35 Top Post of the Year in the Entrepreneur sub-reddit, which currently has 168,250 subscribers (many of which are successful entrepreneurs, reporters, influencers and business leaders).
Through experimentation, I learned that to these were the 10 key things that make for a successful post on Reddit:
Perhaps the most valuable use of your time on Reddit is simply to soak it all in.
Reddit is a great way to observe your target market in their “natural habitat”.
You can gain incredible insight on what your potential customers care about, and how to brand yourself accordingly from simply spending time listening to them.
Before you post anything on Reddit, get immersed in the culture. Learn what the community considers good content.
The fastest way to see what any particular sub-reddit values most is to filter all the posts in that sub-reddit by the top (highest-voted) posts of all time.
You can also filter posts by:
- Top posts of All Time
- Top posts of the Year
- Top posts of This Month
- Top posts of This Week
- Top posts Today
- Top posts the past hour
This is a quick peek at the content that gets the most attention and upvotes in any given sub-reddit, and will tell you a lot about the people within that sub-reddit, and what they care about and value.
If you want to be successful marketing on Reddit, you can’t be a marketer, you must be a Redditor.
2. Be active in the community
I was participated in the Entrepreneur sub-reddit, and offered my feedback and advice frequently in an attempt to add value to the community long before I ever posted any content of my own.
In other words, I was a real person who gained a reputation as a contributing member of the community.
The general rule for Reddit is that you should only be posting your own content 1 out of every 10 posts.
And people will check. Literally. Redditors will actually go check your posting history, and downvote you into oblivion if you’re only posting content from your own site.
One thing you can do to gain the most amount of exposure, while not putting off the perception of spamming the site, is to only post your content to 1 sub-reddit at a time.
Once you notice the first post starting to lose traction, delete it, and re-post it to another relevant sub-reddit.
This may seem like a shady tactic to some, but it’s a great way to make sure you are contributing to more than one sub-reddit, while not clogging up the site with the same content in multiple sub-reddits at the same time.
3. Be helpful, relevant and valuable
We identified the sub-reddit that would be the most receptive to our business and content (the Entrepreneur sub-reddit), and we posted content that was relevant and valuable specifically to them.
Like I mentioned earlier, there is a sub-reddit for nearly everything. Find the ones that will resonate most with your brand, learn what they care about, and then give them what they want.
In addition, videos and pictures do better in some sub-reddits than text posts. Pay close attention to what your targeted sub-reddit values.
4. Reply to every comment, and be humble and honest
We didn’t just post and run. We stuck around to engage with the community, answer questions, and expand on our thoughts even further. This lead to even better feedback and additional conversations, all of which further benefited the community.
5. Format and post your article as a native text post on Reddit
Whatever you do, don’t just copy and paste a link to your blog.
Take the time to format it correctly, and submit it as a native text post that can be read on Reddit, without having to click away to your blog.
This shows that you’re not just lazily spamming links to your blog.
You can also include a link to your blog, but your primary concern should be providing value to Redditors on Reddit, not trying to draw them away from Reddit so you can get more traffic to your blog.
Redditors pick up quickly on this, and will not tolerate blog spam.
In fact, if there’s even a hint that you’re spamming the site, they’ll ban your account, no questions asked.
That’s just the beginning, though. If that account was associated with any website, they’ll sometimes ban the entire domain from ever appearing on Reddit again. And it doesn’t take much at all to get banned. All that has to happen is for another user to report you. That’s it.
Here’s some of the stuff that will get you banned (taken from their guidelines):
- Submitting only links to your blog
- Submitting the same comment a bunch of times to multiple subreddits
- Asking for upvotes or any other kind of vote manipulation (sharing Reddit links with your friends is okay)
- Posting anyone’s personal information
- Creating bots that request information from the site more than every two seconds
- A few gross illegal things
In addition, each sub-reddit has its own rules, so make sure you read them carefully before submitting anything, or your post will be deleted, at the very least.
6. Approach the community as a real human being
Avoid presenting yourself as a “brand” as much as possible.
Again, Redditors hate marketers, and they WILL check your post history. If they think you’re just using the site for self-promotion, they will make it well known in comments to your posts.
If I do link to a blog in a post on Reddit, I always link to my personal blog, and never our branded business blog.
In fact, it generally works best to submit a text post, let it get popular, wait a few days, and then edit your post and add a link.
Again, this may come across as shady to some, but I prefer win-win scenarios where everybody gets what they want.
By adding a link to your blog at a later point, the Reddit community receives your highly relevant and valuable content without spammy self-promotion, and you also eventually get a link to your blog.
Again, celebrities often conduct their AMA, and then go back and edit their post and plug, and/or link to their current project once it is finished. Reddit welcomes this, as long as the content that is given is highly valuable and relevant to begin with.
7. Offer a deal, contest, give-away, or discount exclusive to Reddit
This goes back to my point about offering value, and benefiting the community.
Even if your post isn’t that great, you can always give away something for free, or at least offer the Reddit community a discount on your products/services.
8. Post at the right time to get in front of as many eyeballs as possible
I used this website to analyze what day of the week, and time of day had the most amount of people browsing. I posted at peak times so I could maximize the reach of the content I was posting.
If the content really is valuable and can help the community, why not do what you can do make sure it helps as many people as possible?
9. Long post titles with tons of information written in full sentences perform best
Reddit allows you to have 300 characters in your post titles. Use all of it. The more descriptive and conversational the post title is, the more people will click on it.
Here are even more tips on writing the perfect post title that will attract the most amount of attention.
Ultimately, the single, most important factor that lead to my success on Reddit was my mindset:
10. I’m not a marketer. I’m a Redditor
I can honestly say that, when I wrote and submitted these posts, I was not primarily thinking about the benefits to us, but only how I could benefit the community.
I was a Redditor long before I submitted a post. I’m part of the community, and I genuinely care about it.