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What Is Reddit? How to Use Reddit for Marketing

What is Reddit header image
Most people have some idea of what Reddit is, but few understand its potential as a marketing tool.

What is Reddit? If you don’t use it, you might have stumbled on a Reddit thread in search results or noticed someone online using subjects with ‘r/’ at the start. This can happen for just about any topic.

Reddit bills itself as the front page of the internet. In essence, this is because Reddit is the most popular forum-style platform around. In other words, it’s where people go online to discuss the topics they care about.

If you’ve decided, until now, to write Reddit off as something too difficult to understand, or that it’s not relevant for your business, this guide is aimed at giving you all of the information your need to make the most out of Reddit.

What is Reddit?

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There are many misconceptions out there about Reddit. Image credit: ProfileTree

Reddit is more of a social aggregator than it is a social media website. That is, the individual users aren’t front and centre in the same way that they are on social networks. Rather, Reddit is all about content and opinions. Users are even allowed to remain anonymous.

People create an account with a username and search for sub-Reddit communities of like-minded people to talk with and get around the social interactions that come with friends, family members, and other random people on Facebook.

Let’s take an example. Say you have a funny picture of your cat you want to post, but you don’t want to share it with people you know on Facebook. Maybe you don’t want your work friends to know you dress the cat up in a Darth Vader costume.

Your best alternative would be to create an account on Reddit, go to the r/Cats or r/Aww subReddit (or both) and post the picture of your cat. People tend to react favourably to cat pictures and are likely to upvote your picture so it gets more visibility.

Get enough upvotes, also known as karma, and you might find your cat has made it to the front page of Reddit! Often, Reddit is where content which goes viral on other platforms eventually goes viral. We’ll talk about how marketers can harness this power a little later.

Getting Karma on Reddit

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Karma is a form of kudos which can be given out on Reddit. Image credit: Image credit: Reddit

But what actually is Reddit karma? When you see a post on Reddit, it has a number and an up and down arrow on the left-hand side that you can click. If you like the post a lot, you can press the up arrow and add what’s known as an upvote to the post.

And when you add an upvote, the number goes up whereas a downvote makes the number go down. The original poster, or OP, gets a boost or drop in karma which in turn increases their credibility or sinks it.

At least, that’s how it works in theory.

In practice, someone will often post an embarrassing story only to garner thousands of upvotes and be even more embarrassed that their confession of one of their worst moments in life has entertained so many people that they upvoted in droves.

Do You Have to Pay to Use Reddit?

The site is absolutely free although the site owners use display advertising to monetise their users. Despite this, the admins of Reddit came up with Reddit gold to help pay for server time.

What is Reddit gold? Essentially this is like a more valuable form of karma you pay for via reddit coins. It’s something you can buy for yourself or buy to give to a user who’s delighted you with their content to the point you want to show your appreciation for their post.

When you “gild” someone on Reddit, they get access to something called The Lounge and a gold star next to their username to show they’ve been gilded. And if you’re broke, but want to show appreciation, there’s always Reddit silver!

BUT Reddit silver is actually a running gag on the site. Sometimes people want to gild a user, but they are unable to pay for gold. Instead, they put in an image link to a poorly drawn coin that says “Reddit Silver” in poorly drawn lettering.

It has no benefit other than being annoying, or funny depending on your point of view. Also, there are users who do the same thing when they want to annoy another poster, by putting the link to Reddit silver in their reply.

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Reddit coins can be used to buy a number of different awards. Image credit: Reddit

What is Reddit Premium?

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Reddit Premium gives users ad-free access, among other perks. Image credit: Reddit

Reddit Premium is a subscription service, which is aimed at giving hardcore Redditers a better user experience. This costs $5.99 per month, with the money going towards the hosting costs of the site.

Essentially, Reddit Premium has three main benefits.

Firstly, premium users don’t see display ads while they browse Reddit. This gives a much more enjoyable user experience, and eliminates the need to use an ad blocker while on the site.

Secondly, you’ll receive access to a premium-only subReddit called r/Lounge. This does not have an overarching theme or topic, but allows premium members to meet and talk to one another.

Finally, premium Redditers receive 1,000 free Reddit coins when they buy a subscription, and then 700 per month thereafter. These can then be gifted to users who post particularly good content.

Reddit and Advertising

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Reddit generates revenue through display advertising. Image credit: Reddit

You may be wondering how Reddit could be making money from all this activity? After all, there’s no visible ads like there are on Facebook, right? Well, that depends on your use of an adblocker for your browser, or if you’re viewing the site on your smartphone or tablet.

If you’re not using an adblocker on your desktop browser or looking at the website on your mobile device, you’re going to see advertising. But it’s just not as in-your-face as Facebook and other sites.

What you will see are promoted posts that an advertiser pays for along with banner ads here and there.

Reddit gold is also another source of income as the servers are funded for decades to come and the extra income is used for operational expenses.

Ultimately, Reddit has yet to turn a profit despite taking on millions of dollars in venture capital. The latest redesign of the website has been controversial due to its Facebook-like appearance and poor delivery of advertising.

It remains to be seen if the redesign will bring in more people and encourage advertisers to spend money targeting their desired audience.

Using Reddit’s Mobile App

Reddit took its time launching an official app, but it was poorly designed and unpopular.

This prompted Reddit to buy Alien Blue which was an iOS-only app. Android users were left out in the cold and resorted to using third-party apps like Reddit is Fun and Bacon Reader.

By modern standards, the desktop design is also fairly old fashioned, and clunky. In this sense, it’s not surprising that the mobile app is also somewhat behind the times.

Reddit has since created an Android app, but many users are avoiding its use in favour of the third-party apps which are considered clean and efficient in comparison. Perhaps the biggest failure of the official Reddit app is the ability to do things like buy gold and give a username “flair”, things that are done regularly on the desktop version.

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Reddit is also available as a mobile app, although this is somewhat less popular than the browser-based version. Image credit: Brett Jordan

How to Use Reddit for Marketing

When considering any online platform, one of the most important things is how it can be used to increase profits for businesses. Like other major social media sites, Reddit can be a powerful sales and marketing tool.

However, in other ways, it’s a bit of an exception. Unlike Facebook or Instagram, simple product-focused sales content is unlikely to perform well. This is because the average Reddit user is a little bit more skeptical.

This means you can’t just post nice looking photos of your products to Reddit and hope for the best. Reddit users tend to have a more in-depth knowledge of their area of interest. As such, you need to provide a lot more substance to get them on your side.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at two ways that Reddit can be used to boost revenues.

Reddit for Content Marketing Inspiration

Many content marketers use forums and Q&A sites like Quora to come up with original ideas to populate their content calendar. Reddit is an amazing resource for this kind of content inspiration.

Users on an average subReddit are highly invested and knowledgeable in whatever topic they’re interested in. In other words, they’re a bit nerdier than your average customer. This makes them an excellent source of content ideas.

That is, their questions tend to relate to issues which are more specific to your industry, product or service. Often, these are questions you might not have thought of yourself. More importantly, your competitors probably haven’t thought of them either.

The key here is to actively seek out these kinds of questions, rather than waiting for them to filter through your customer support channels. We’ll cover exactly how you can go about this in the following section.

Generating content ideas using Reddit allows you to strike while the iron is hot and publish totally original content that your competitors who don’t use Reddit would never have thought of.

Brand Loyalty and Engagement

Of course, the more questions you can get out of your Reddit audience, the better. This requires you to cultivate an active following on the platform. One easy way to do this is to start a subReddit for your customers.

For example, Apple users can meet and discuss their products under r/iPhone, or r/AppleWatch.

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r/iPhone is a massive online community for discussing Apple’s flagship mobile device. Image credit: Reddit

Once your sub is up and running, you’ll also benefit from a lot of user-generated content. However, in the early stages, you’ll have to do the legwork to get people talking. That is, users will be put off by a subReddit which lacks active users or good content.

A popular way to boost user engagement on Reddit is using Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions. Essentially, this is when you give your users screen time with a senior member of your team, or product expert and give them a chance to field questions.

What is Reddit? A Platform to Build Communities

Reddit may have strayed from its original intentions in some ways, but its core of anonymous interaction and sharing of information is still very much intact. At the same time, it feels like a throwback to a different age of the internet.

While sites like Facebook and Twitter are transparently all about the money, Reddit still feels like a great place to meet like-minded people, and discuss your favourite topics. Because of this, it’s a great indicator for what content will perform well on other platforms.

Reddit is free to use and third party software like Reddit Enhancement Suite tames the website to make it more readable if you’re staying off the redesigned part. After all, Reddit has become a part of the fabric of the internet.

It’s also a great source of entertainment and procrastination for millions of people.

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