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5 things brands should NOT do on Reddit

Reddit is not a forum that marketers should enter on a whim, that's how they are torn apart by the platform's highly engaged community, which includes around 140 million unique users a month. It's a place to engage, share and discover, not sell. Here, Rohit Thawani, director of digital strategy at TBWA\Chiat\Day LA and Reddit member, offers his advice as to what brands should absolutely not do if trying to connect with the Reddit audience.

1) Don’t be a marketer.

The first rule of Reddit – it is not an advertising platform. Sure, we all know if something blows up on Reddit it then blows up in pop culture over the next few days and weeks. You might believe by posting your brand’s latest shitty :30 spot on Reddit, it’ll go viral. You are going to fail. Miserably. The only way to succeed on the most influential social platform in the world is to discard every marketing practice you learned in grad school, and just be a fucking decent person. Paying for promoted posts to support server time on the free community doesn’t hurt either.

2. Don’t fake it.

The average Reddit user is a male 25-34 years old. Your brand is not a 25-34 year-old male. Don’t pretend to be one. r/hailcorporate will discover, tar and feather you. And you’d deserve it. Once you create a username for your brand, clearly state who you are (community manager, CEO) and always make your intentions clear. Take pride in your transparency.

3. No memes.

Your job as a brand on Reddit is to bring value to the community. Value does not equate to shitty image macros about your products. Value is giving Redditors access to your brand: question and answers (AMA), top secret photos, donations to cool efforts, and so on. If your post is not bringing value to the community and enhancing the conversation, don’t hit submit.

4. Don’t skip the hard questions.

An AMA (Ask Me Anything) is one of the most popular and socially acceptable ways for a brand to make an appearance on Reddit. This consists of bringing someone interesting from your company to answer the larger community’s questions for an hour. You’re going to get easy questions and difficult questions. Always prioritize the hard ones – that’s what you’re judged on. Ignore what your legal and brand teams advise and instead be honest, human and sincere. Even if you don’t have an answer figured out, just say so. Also, check back in throughout the day after your hour is up and continue to answer questions. Marketing is naturally seen as dishonest, and by flipping the script you’ll earn some good karma.

5. If you can’t follow the rules, don’t participate. Listen instead.

Reddit is full of amazing insights, inspiration and information. You don’t need to post to get a ton out of it. By searching for your brand, competitors and category in these subreddits, you can:

· /r/DoesAnybodyElse find curious brand behavior and insights

· /r/hailcorporate see which brands are ticking the community off

· /r/expectationvsreality see what people really think of your product

· /r/shutupandtakemymoney get an early preview of product innovation

· /r/circlejerk to see what the larger Reddit community is tired of talking about (NSFW)

In closing, if you apply your Facebook community strategy to Reddit you’re going to fail. Join the community on your personal time. Upvote, downvote, comment and submit links. Once you’ve become successful Redditor in your personal time, you’ll have a solid grasp on how to integrate your brand. You might also understand that your brand should not be anywhere near Reddit.

Good luck. And if you are looking for any resources on doing Reddit right, please take a look at the Subreddit created specially for our 2014 SXSW talk titled: Reddit, You’re Doing It Wrong”.

You can live vicariously through Rohit's anti-advertising frustration on @vohit4rohit.

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