Reddit is infamous for being a marketing graveyard. Full of buried links from entrepreneurs and marketers that just didn’t “get it.”
But Reddit shouldn’t be nearly as scary as people make it sound. Sure, if you’re a spammy marketer that doesn’t care about his customers, you will fail. I cannot help you. But if you’re genuinely trying to improve the lives of others with your product or service, Reddit can be a fantastic site to connect with your community and potential customers.
Reddit is one of the top 10 most popular sites on the internet and, at the time of writing, the 5th most popular site in the United States. Pulling in over a 1.2 billion visits every single month. That’s 40 million a day.
Similar to most marketing channels, you’ll probably find that most of your posts perform with modest results. You’ll get some new traffic and maybe find some new leads that you couldn’t reach elsewhere.
But the real power of Reddit is your potential to strike gold. As I’ll explain in a minute, Reddit is a meritocracy in its purest form. Content that provides tremendous value to people can be rewarded with fantastic exposure that sends your site a spike in traffic like you’ve never seen.
It’s not hard to find compelling examples. Like when Nat Eliason saw 45,000 unique hits in a single day on his personal blog. The trick is to create content that’s so compelling it sticks to the front page of your specific subreddit.
Reddit provides targeted niches for nearly everyone under the sun and its community is very active. And since it’s entire structure is based off sharing and discussing links & ideas it lends itself very well to getting your content in front people.
But you don’t want to just jump onto Reddit and start posting everything you create. The site’s users are notorious for hating marketers and self-promotion. If you’re smart about it though, it’s easy to avoid this problem and enjoy organic engagement with thousands, even millions of viewers.
How Reddit Works
Reddit is the self-proclaimed “front page of the internet” because it serves the most popular and trending content and ideas from around the world.
Its structure is simple. Users submit content either via an outlink or a text post. Other users can comment and vote on submissions. Reddit then uses this information to sort the most valuable content and keep it at the top of the page.
The content is organized into subreddits, which are essentially standalone communities dedicated to a particular topic, like /r/philosophy or /r/digitalmarketing. Only the most popular content from these subreddits will actually make it to the site’s front page.
But similar to Google, you don’t need to worry about that. Your goal is to show up on the front page of your subreddit, your niche.
Usually, if you post something new Reddit’s algorithm gives you a bit on the front page to get initial exposure (how long depends on how active the community is), then after that, the most important factor is how many upvotes your post receives.
The last important element is karma points. Your karma score shows the community how much value you’ve provided to users in the past. You gain one point every time you receive an upvote on one of your posts or comments. You lose one point for each downvote.
While karma doesn’t actually give you any extra “pull” in terms of ranking, it does help establish you as a genuine community member and builds trust. As mentioned, Redditors hate when outsiders try to leverage their platform for selfish personal gain. A higher karma score shows that you’ve put the time to really create value for others.
This is key to your success when you start sharing your own content. Sharing your posts without first establishing this trust in the community can get you downvoted to oblivion.
Joining the Community and Building Trust
Because Redditors hate this type of self-promotion, it’s a good idea to start interacting with community, providing value, and earning karma before you try sharing your own content.
Start by asking yourself about your expertise, your brand message, and customer interest:
- What topics am I knowledgeable about?
- What value is my brand providing others?
- What are related topics that my target audience is interested in?
Then search Redditlist to see if there are any subreddits dedicated to those topics. Chances are, there will be.
Once you’ve identified some, you need to qualify them to make sure they will be worth your time and effort. Here are the key things to look for:
- High number of subscribers
- Relatively active (new discussions posted every day, discussions receive many comments)
- Subreddit Rules (some outright ban self-promotion or sharing content you have any stake in whatsoever)
Once you’ve found a community, subscribe to the subreddit and start participating in the most popular conversations. Try to provide value whenever possible. Answer questions with details, data, and stories. Ask interesting questions that add to the discussion.
Start upvoting other great submissions and create your own posts to share with everyone. But don’t start posting your own things right away. Instead, share valuable and interesting content produced by others that you personally loved.
This will show people that you aren’t just here to promote yourself, but anything that’s worth checking out. It just so happens that you’re also making some cool stuff worth checking out!
Promoting Your Content
Once you’ve been engaging with the community for a few weeks and have built up some karma and familiarity with the group, you can start slipping your own content in. But there are a few important rules to follow.
#1 – Make sure your content is awesome
Just like on search engines, only the best content belongs on page one. Posting anything less will be a waste of time at best. At worst, it will result in tons of karma-destroying downvotes.
#2 – Make sure your content is relevant to the discussion
Whether you’re commenting on someone else’s post or creating a new discussion, make sure it’s relevant to the ongoing dialogue within the community. Your priority should be helping others; links to your site should only be supplemental for those who want to learn more.
#3 – Provide immediate value in your post
When sharing a link, it’s usually a good idea to provide the key value points in the description area of the post. In some communities, it’s become standard to copy and paste your entire blog post (use this tool to easily and instantly convert your blog posts into Reddit posts). But you should at minimum include some type of tl;dr that tells the audience the key takeaways from the content.
Another cool strategy is to let Reddit know you really value their attention by providing extra information, personalized to the community, that other visitors wouldn’t normally see.
When this is done properly, I’ve even seen successful posts in subreddits that normally prohibit linking to your own content.
Related Content: Twitter’s New Ad Program Will Promote 10 Tweets for You Every Day
#4 – Don’t stop promoting others
Just because you’ve started building a little trust, doesn’t mean you can switch into full-blown promotion mode. That’s the best way to waste all that hard work you put in to get here.
I’ve heard that you should limit your own content to 1-in-10 links you share, but it really depends on so many factors. If everything you create in awesome, people’s tolerance for it will be a lot higher. If the community is less active, you may not be posting frequently enough to warrant waiting 2 months each time you share your own stuff.
Start with 1-in-10 as a base, then as you participate in the community, you’ll get a feeling for what you can get away with and what might be pushing the boundary. Don’t push the boundary.
#5 – Use best practices
I’ll say it one more time. Keep your focus on providing value and you will be fine.
However, because Redditors are always on the lookout for huskers and marketers like hawks, it’s important not to do anything that gives them a reason to suspect you.
This means avoiding many of the #MarketingHacks you’ve been using elsewhere like clickbait titles. If your title reads like a BuzzFeed article (“you won’t believe what happened when I tried this new strategy!!!!”), pause for a moment and let the shame sink in. Then go and write a new title before hitting “send.”
On principle alone, most Redditors have trained themselves to resist clicking on such temptation and will punish you for your sins.
Instead, try the exact opposite. Reddit allows 300 character titles, so use them. Create detailed, informative titles. Tell visitors what they will gain from clicking on your submission instead of the one above or below it.
Similarly, in the description, remember to provide immediate value before directing traffic to your site.
Don’t ever ask for upvotes or clicks either. It looks desperate and can be another serious trigger for some Redditors.
Paid Advertising on Reddit
There are also several options for paid advertising on Reddit.
#1 – Sponsored Posts
These are the most common form of advertisement on the site. You are essentially paying to have a post pinned to the top of a given subreddit (or group of subreddits) and pay per 1,000 impressions. These are the only self-serve ad option offered by Reddit.
One thing that’s really different and interesting about Reddit Sponsored stories is that you can choose to promote posts other than your own as well.
For example, if a customer shares a great story or case study after working with you. You can promote their post to boost its reach.
Another interesting part is that users can still upvote (or downvote) your post and add comments on the discussion. This gives you a chance to have an open dialogue with everyone viewing your ad and boosts engagement.
Because this type of advertising is just promoting an otherwise-normal Reddit post, it’s important that you still follow all the advice above before launching a campaign. Nothing yells “I’m just here to sell you sh*t” like a paid post by someone with zero karma points.
Related Content: Paid Content Promotion: A Comparison Of The Different Platforms
#2 – Display Ads
These work just like they would on Facebook or any other platform. Showing up in the sidebar with graphics to catch readers’ attention.
However, these ads can be a bit more expensive per impression and you can only set them up by working with Reddit’s team directly. Because they manage things with you, they limit this service to those with a quarterly spend of at least $30,000. If that’s you, you can get started by filling out this form on their site.
#3 – Sponsored Q&A
Just like an Ask Me Anything post, you set a time that you’ll be online to answer community questions and start spreading the word. This gives your audience a chance to ask you about their challenges and concerns. Not only can it be a great way to promote yourself and your brand, but it will give you real insight into what your customers are thinking and wanting.
Just like display ads, you’ll need to contact Reddit to set these up with a minimum quarterly spend of $30,000 across all ads.
So, Is Reddit Advertising Worth It?
While it’s true that Reddit can’t be “hacked” as easy as other social platforms, it has enormous potential for those who put in the work to engage with the community and create value for others.
You may need to put in consistent effort into the channel for several weeks (or even months) before seeing too much results, but when you do, it can be huge. And you’ll have gained access to a tough market that competitors may have failed to capture.