Do You Use Reddit?I LOVE Reddit. But it baffles me. Scares me sometimes. And, to a degree, that’s why I love it.

So, in an effort to clarify why—as an industry—we should pay more attention to the platform, I recently tried to outline how communicators can use Reddit.

I’m not sure I succeeded, to be honest.

Reddit’s popularity has never been in doubt. It is the sixth most trafficked site in the world. Number four in the United States,” we noted in the article.

Its active users are tribal. Cultish. We know it’s popular. But popularity doesn’t assume we should use it.

Dabblers are welcome, but true success on the platform requires time, commitment, and a thick skin. Attributes and resources many brands and organizations don’t have in abundance.

Reddit can be a labor.

And while the organization and its members are transparent about what they will and won’t abide when it comes to advertising and marketing, effectively marketing or publishing in that environment is often more trouble than it’s worth.

So, despite, or perhaps because of, our recent discussions around Reddit, we thought we would bring the Big Question to you:

To Reddit or not to Reddit?

Just because a platform exists doesn’t mean we should use it (Oh hi, Snapchat. Hello, ello. ‘Sup, Vero? Note: the opinions expressed regarding these social networks do not necessarily reflect those of the Spin Sucks Community).

Alternatively (and this is where Reddit usually comes in), just because you don’t understand a platform, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to decode it.

The Ol’ Book Club Analogy

Alex Birkett calls for common sense when it comes to Reddit:

If you want to join a specific type of community of like-minded individuals, use Reddit.

If you want to dump links, gain traffic, and try to market there, don’t use Reddit.

I’ve seen case studies around, most are either one-off successes or annoying and sketchy (buying upvotes and the like).

My opinion? Just leave them alone. Let it be a place without cheesy marketing tactics.

If you’re going to market there, make sure you’re an active member and user first.

How annoying would it be if you had, like, a book club, and some dude came in for the first time (right in the middle of your discussion on the latest Nassim Taleb book) and started shouting about their book recommendation software?

Coming from a member who has been engaging for a while, though? Easier to swallow.

Just use common sense and courtesy.

Watch Out for Wonks

Nicholas Kinports acknowledges the value of Reddit, but leaves a warning along with his advice:

Reddit is, for lack of a better word, wonky. And that means it’s full of wonks. People so focused on a given topic they’ve dug in and started a subreddit.

If you want to play in that space as a brand, you better make sure you have the equity and authenticity to pull it off or be ready for the pitchforks.

Brand characteristics of brands that do well on Reddit:

  • Altruistic – Think nonprofit or charitable in a big way
  • Scientific – Think Boston Dynamics, The Field Museum
  • Cultish – Think Tesla, Apple, and IKEA
  • Laddish – Reddit is a male-dominated platform, despite recent efforts to make it more diverse

Reddit for Brand Management

Greg Bullock is of the mind that, while Reddit can be intimidating and difficult, it doesn’t change the fact that conversations are happening.

And marketing and PR is all about taking part in those conversations:

Marketers should leverage the engagement opportunities that Reddit offers and view it as an important platform for brand management.

It can be hard to penetrate its tribalism with traditional marketing or advertising—but avoiding it altogether does not mean Redditors will stop talking about your brand, your product, or your company.

I personally have a Reddit account where I jump in to conversations in which I can offer relevance and/or where our brand name is front and center (bonus: Google Alerts is surprisingly good at catching these mentions).

I am always transparent about my role with the company, and subsequently try to provide as much value as I can in the form of information or support.


(Image courtesy of Greg Bullock)

Reddit for Marketing, Not Selling

Josh Brown agrees, noting that Reddit is all about community and discussion:

One of the things that makes Reddit so great is that it’s comprised of subreddits that are dedicated to a specific topic making it that much easier for a business to have an opportunity to easily connect with their target demographic.

With that said, you can’t just jump into Reddit and hard sell your products as your posts will most likely not make it to the front page of the respective subreddit that you’re trying to target and you may potentially even get yourself banned from the subreddit.

My Tips:

Reddit is all about being a part of the community, meaning that you need to contribute to discussions to forge relationships and get yourself known.

While it may be tempting to just submit a link to your product, you won’t get nearly the amount of traction as you would if you take the time to answer people’s questions, link to content that was helpful or entertaining, etc… basically, take the time to provide value.

When you’re ready to submit a post that’s related to your service, take a look at the top posts of the week or the month for the subreddit you want to post in.

This will give you an idea of the top posts within the timeframe you choose which can help with determining how to best structure a post (both headline and body).

Reddit and Authenticity

Cassandra Rosen has found success with Reddit when it comes product launches:

The key to Reddit is understanding how to authentically share a real story with the influencer you want to reach, in a way that creates value for them.

You can suggest a direction, but don’t try to control it. Spin fails miserably on Reddit, but authenticity, if it’s something their demographic can relate to, can work to raise brand awareness.

Reddit can also be a great way to test market a new product, or get consumer feedback, before you fully launch something, because it allows users to become part of the story, vs. just sitting on the sidelines watching or listening.

Reddit is for Techies

Antony Vitillo says that when it comes to Reddit, it depends on the field you are in:

Let me give you some examples: if you are a photographer, maybe social media channels like Instagram and Pinterest are ideal for you, to showcase your work.

But if you are a techie, like me, hanging around on Reddit can be great.

In my case is reddit is useful for two reasons:

  1. It gives me a selected list of the most interesting news in AR and VR of the day;
  2. It lets me showcase my posts on AR and VR to a targeted audience. When the community loves my post, my blog traffic skyrockets.

Three pieces of advice to use Reddit:

  1. Be part of the community: hang on Reddit just if you want to be part of the community, not just to spam your posts. Contribute to the community and ask for the community, that’s it.
  2. Understand how the various subreddits work, to get the best publishing times and topics;
  3. Be ready to for some harshness: I get insulted sometimes, it is pretty normal. Just answer showing kindness and love and usually, things get better.

Words to live by, Antony. Words to live by.

Do You Use Reddit, and is it Worth it?

Like Alex Birkett earlier on, Kim McCumber boils Reddit use down to common sense.

It’s great, but does that mean you throw marketing effort down? Is it worth the time and (potential) trouble?

To make it simple, there are probably a number of marketing avenues that will generate a greater return for your business than Reddit.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Reddit. But from a marketing perspective, it can consume a TON of your time (especially if you’re easily distracted) and using it for marketing can be like walking on the edge of a blade.

Users will sniff out marketing/advertising in a heartbeat and ignore, downvote or report you for your efforts (make sure to read the subreddit info/rules).

The one thing Reddit is good for—there’s a lot of active conversations and it’s a good place to get ideas for blog posts and other social content.

Do You Use Reddit? Why Not?

When asked if he uses Reddit, Spin Sucks Community member Lukas Treu admits the platform doesn’t feel like it’s meant for marketing.

I like using Reddit on a personal level, but I guess I haven’t thought about it from a brand perspective.

It just feels like it’s not really meant for that, IMO, but it doesn’t mean a brand couldn’t have a presence?

I think it’s worth at least monitoring. I’ve seen brands chime in on threads discussing their company and some people lash out at the poster for having little karma (experience) on the platform and posting just to defend their brand, even though the “defense” in question was a totally legitimate response.

It’s a bit of a quandary. I think you need to at least be aware of what’s going on, but weigh the value of posting carefully in each circumstance.

Reddit: The Wild West

Spin Sucks PR Dream Team member Seán Stickle is skeptical:

The intent is sketchy, I think. There’s a whole subreddit devoted to how people set up their Macs with what amounts to hero photos of perfectly aligned Macs on beautifully appointed desks.

On the other hand, /r/halicorporate attacks anything they perceive as company-sponsored posts.

The place is a wild west of marketing, some more obvious than others.

To Reddit or Not to Reddit?

Looking through all of our answers, one thing is clear: Very few people have cracked the Reddit code.

It’s a little funny. Most warn against selling on the channel. We all seem to get that you need to “behave” on Reddit, at least from a marketing and communications perspective.

Don’t market to the community. Converse with it.

But shouldn’t that be the case with all social (SOCIAL) networks? All of the internet?

The tale of in-your-face-marketing isn’t a new one. Reddit just seems to be that place where the members actively defend their right to, well, Reddit.

Still, as marketers and communicators, we are constantly looking for the ROI of #allthethings (one of my favorites belongs to Gary Vee: What’s the ROI of Your Mother?).

Is it worth exposing ourselves to all the… Reddit-iveness? Reddit-uity? Reddit-ism? 

Decoding Reddit

On the surface, the ROI of Reddit seems to elude many of us. Well, me, for sure.

But based on this article and the number of responses we received, maybe that’s all the ROI we need: People are talking about Reddit. People want to know how to use it. They try to use it. Sometimes they fail. Sometimes they try again.

They’re learning. By trying. By doing. Much like any other social platform. Or the internet.

Or anything.

The ubiquitous sentiment that we have to be careful on Reddit is, really, advice that should be rote for each and every online activity. No?

Yes, you can experiment with abandon through Instagram stories, but you still need to be careful how your brand is perceived (and received).

Experiment. Test. Respect the community, and be true to your own mission and vision. Track your results. Repeat.

That’s the cipher for any online strategy.

Up Next

The Zuckerberg testimony. Search that term. Go ahead, we’ll wait…

Done? Like us, we’re sure you’re seeing various takeaways, awkward moments, and more questions and consternation over what to make of it.

Yes, the testimony discussed the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Russian involvement in the 2016 Presidential Election, and, more generally, the dissemination of disinformation.

But what does it all mean? What are the takeaways that matter to you? To us?

Next week’s Big Question asks:

What are your thoughts regarding the Zuckerberg testimony?

And… go!

You can answer here, in our free Spin Sucks Community, or on the socials (use #SpinSucksQuestion so we can find you).

Mike Connell

Mike Connell is the director of client services at Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. He is also a contributor to the award-winning PR blog, Spin Sucks, the leading source for modern PR training, trends, and insights. Find more of Mike's musings on his blog, Communative. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

View all posts by Mike Connell