Marketing on Reddit

Reddit is pretty much the only website I ever visit these days. Since it is technically just a collection links to other websites, you could say that I visit a lot of places on the web. This may be true, but it all begins with reddit.com

Reddit is simply a place to post links. People who post need accounts, and people with accounts can provide feedback in the form of positive and negative votes. The highest voted links bubble to the top, and the lowest fall to the bottom. When this is practiced on a huge scale, what you get is a bustling website where at any given time, you can view the top 100 or so coolest things on the Internet.

Additionally, the site provides a comment forum underneath each link. The comments function the same way. They are voteable, and the highest comments float to the top. Naturally, at any given time in a thread the most poignant or funny comment in the whole batch is readily available at the top.

Subreddits are interest-based groups on Reddit. They are moderated by the users that created them (and anyone can create one). They decide on what their group is all about, and people who share their interest can subscribe to the subreddit.

But there are plenty of places you can read about how Reddit works. In fact, I really should have just pointed you toward this video, which does a much better job explaining things than I do.

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/tlI022aUWQQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

So there is your summary of Reddit. I can imagine that when the website first got going in June of 2005, it was a pretty rad little e-hole in the wall. But sadly, as it grew to be one of the most visited active websites, some couldn't see past the website’s value as just another marketing opportunity . I get nauseous whenever I come across a blog post titled something like The Secret to Getting TONS of Web Traffic from Reddit.

reddit-screenshot.png

Figure 1: It’s kind of like Facebook, only with fewer icebucket challenge videos

It’s time to fight back, dear reader - and the only way I really know how to combat misinformation is with education. Here are five things to keep in mind to market on Reddit - and not be a dick.

1. You actually have to be a redditor

You have to make an account to post or comment on anything. There’s not much to it. It’s your typical silly username + password + optional email verification.

At this point in the Reddit immigration, idiot marketing guys choose a name like StupidTechBlogCheckForUpdates or ZINGmarketing . To cite Reddit’s sitewide rules,

It's perfectly fine to be a redditor with a website, it's not okay to be a website with a reddit account.

I’d say calling your new user account ‘HipNewWebsite’ to advertise your hip new website is not really a great start. Make a username that you actually like.

I couldn’t tell you why, but there are a number of running jokes when it comes to usernames. One trend dictates that they be (1) in all caps (2) word delimited by underscores (3) depicting something horribly gruesome or crass. I suppose it’s so we can witness these types of wonderful exchanges:

POTATO_IN_MY_BUTT: Hey guys, I’m going through a hard time now. The girl I have been in love with forever has just confessed to me that she struggles with depression. How do I handle this?

BEAR_CIRCUMCISER: Don’t catch yourself letting your feelings affect your counsel. It would probably be best to talk to one of her friends just to make sure you stay honest and unbiased.

CLOWN_PEDOPHILE: BEARCIRCUMCISER is right. It sounds like she is in no condition to begin a relationship anyway.

Isn’t it wonderful? I’ve read a totally illuminating breakdown on the ENRON scandal from a guy who went by MIDGETPUNCHER. Reading something interesting and thoughtful from a twisted username never gets old.

2. Comment on things that don’t have to do with you

One of the first things a redditor will probably do when they come across someone is look at their comment history - especially if you are buying something from them or exchanging services.

Some users do nothing but piss people off. They leave horrible degrading comments in the most innocent of threads. A good tipoff to one of these guys is that their comment history is filled with nothing but mean, banned, and poorly voted comments.

Likewise, if you have nothing in your comment history but comments about your product, you are going to look by a spammer. Believe it or not, a comment history like this is grounds for permanent banning from the site. You have to mix things up a bit.

One of the easiest ways to get a decent comment history going is through /r/AskReddit. It’s simply a subreddit for people to post general questions in hopes of a ton of redditors answering in the comments. For now, don’t try to get in on the 2000-3000 pointers on the front page. Click the ‘new’ tab at the top to see the questions that are just flowing in. They may be strange, poorly worded, and hopeless when it comes to getting to the front page - but they usually get at least a dozen comments. Answer as many as you want to. When you get a reply, follow up. Be brief and ‘laid back’, since the stakes aren’t really that high in the new section.

Sometimes while commenting it’s tempting to get in fights with people. You may delude yourself into thinking you will look really awesome if you win , but nobody really wins an Internet fight, do they? Fights are petty and make for terrible threads. Let things roll of your back. If someone zings you and their hurtful comment is getting upvoted, it’s probably just that you are in the wrong subreddit.

Use your brain. Don’t try to crack a joke in /r/AskScience. Don’t make fun of Christians in /r/christianity. Just find a more appropriate subreddit for your views, and your witty self will be ruling that subreddit’s frontpage in no time.

3. Respect the moderators. Ask them before doing stuff

So you are getting pretty comfortable with Reddit at this point. You are getting to the point where you want to make a post about a product of yours.

Before you slap in with your shameless advertisement, message the subreddit’s moderators . There is an envelope icon toward the right of every subreddit. Clicking it initiates a private message to the people that run that subreddit.

Politely explain who you are, what your product is, then ask if you can post about it. If you cannot, a good moderator will guide you to a more appropriate subreddit.

Each subreddit has rules too. They are kept in the sidebar. Most subreddits even have bots that automatically remove links that don’t follow rules, so make sure your review them before posting anything.

4. Don’t ‘pitch’. Just talk.

Finally. Here is the great secret to getting a ton of hits from Reddit. Are you ready?

  1. Have a great idea
  2. Don't be a tool

The truth is that there is no secret. If you have a great idea, it will do great there. If it doesn’t, take it to another subreddit. Also, don’t be a tool. Nobody will give a snobbish pitch the time of day.

You have probably heard of Imgur . It’s a massive image hosting site. Not many people may know that it was created for reddit. The site was announced by MrGrim in a simple post titled /My Gift to Reddit: I created an image hosting service that doesn't suck. What do you think?/

You can read the thread here.

There was no marketing material or viral video. It was just some dude who was fed up with all the other image hosts and set out to make one that didn’t suck.

I guess this section should be relabeled Make sure your idea doesn’t suck.

Closing

If you are a vibrant, tan marketing guru who is trying to ‘crack Reddit’, I would start with dampening that mohawk of yours. Not seeing the site as a web traffic piñata is the secret, you cologne-covered nimrod.

And to the rest of you - especially if you don’t have a marketing bone in your body - there is still plenty for you on reddit . Come hang out with MAKESOUTWITHHORSES and others like him.

Goodnight, readership. Peace.