The vast majority of social media marketers have probably never considered Reddit as a viable platform for their brand activity. But with the recent release of Reddit’s official mobile app, I thought it would be a good time to look at the misunderstood platform, shining an optimistic light on brand opportunities for the so-called 'front-page of the internet' for those who are new to Reddit.
First things first. It’s a platform with more than 36 million users, over 240 million monthly unique visitors, and in 2015 had 83 billion page views. It's the 25th biggest website on the planet in terms of traffic. Sounds great, right…?
Well, to most brands the mere mention of Reddit sends even the most seasoned execs into sheer panic over the potential repercussions of entering the unknown. A number of brands have tried and failed to crack Reddit - it’s certainly not an easy win.
Even celebs aren’t guaranteed a positive reception – look at the time Woody Harrelson did an Ask Me Anything (AMA) to blatantly market his new film Rampart… needless to say it didn’t go down well.
With many brand fails on Reddit, there’s usually a consistent factor in that they are trying too hard to market their product. Redditors can get pretty creative when shutting down a blatant marketing attempt, so avoid these examples like the plague.
In order to flourish on Reddit, brands must add value to the conversation by being authentic and offering something of use, be it expertise, something the community hasn’t spotted before or just a bit of humour. Redditors are a savvy bunch and if you aren’t authentic, you’ll get torn apart and do more harm than good.
But contrary to popular belief, Reddit offers an engaged global community with a huge potential reach opportunity for brands who get it right. Here are couple of good examples.
Ben & Jerry’s – AMA
Here’s an example of an AMA done well by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. For example, when they were asked the question “How is it you’re so amazing?” Ben and Jerry took a humble approach which the community could really relate to, by showing they are just two normal guys who happen to run a successful business which is completely relatable and refreshing to the audience.
What they understood was that people don’t want to be sold ice cream during an AMA, all they want is honest answers to their questions.
Spotify – Reddit Playlists
Understanding that in-depth conversations are the essence of Reddit, Spotify engaged the community by asking them questions around the range of emotions felt when listening to different songs. After a few weeks, the community created playlist led to over 10,000 submissions and more than 2,300 comments.
Brands have used Reddit to make their employees brand ambassadors on the platform. Amazon has two stand out examples of this in AmazonJosh and AmazonAndrew.
They work autonomously from the brand and trawl Reddit for Amazon/product related questions, providing extremely detailed responses and recommendations to Redditors looking for answers.
People don’t like talking to a logo, so ambassadors bring a human-side to brands looking to engage users on a more conversational level and help bring their products/services front of mind in the myriad of choice available in the market today.
Worth the risk?
What I love about Reddit is that it really challenges brands to look past what they want to tell their audience, and fixes the crosshairs on what do the audience want to hear from them.
It’s one of the best social channels around for targeting people who are truly passionate about specific topics, (and I mean very specific... where else would you find a gathering of people pretending to be birds fighting a war against humans…), and offers a great listening tool for brands to understand how their customers converse around their passion points.
If this all sounds like your worst nightmare, more risk-averse brands looking to test the waters of Reddit could try Upvoted, Reddit’s curated editorial platform, which offers a more advertising-friendly way of reaching Reddit’s users through sponsored content.
So with that being said, here are my top tips for maximising your return on Reddit:
1. Do your research and really get under the skin of how Reddit works before dipping your toes in - its users will spot a newbie from miles away
2. Choose your moments wisely and make sure the idea is right for the platform
3. Don’t market, contribute - put human interaction at the centre of your strategy
4. Know your audience, what they want, and what they will respond to
5. Use brand ambassadors to consistently engage a wider audience
6. Don’t be afraid of criticism, be real with your responses and it will be appreciated
7. If you can’t contribute, then just listen, you’ll be amazed by the insights you can pick up
8. Be prepared to take a risk. The rewards can be worth it if done right
So go forth, try something different, and give it a go. You might be surprised with what you find...
In the wise words of Tony Robbins:
“If you always do what you've always done, you will always get what you've always got."
Fraser Stapleton is an account manager at We Are Social