Marketer’s Guide to Advertising on Reddit

Reddit is infamous for being a marketing graveyard. It is 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 who doesn’t care about your 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 attracts 42% of Internet users between the ages of 18 and 24 and 69% are male while 31% are female.

When it comes to advertising, recently Reddit has added:

  • User profiles to give people, and brands, a definitive on-platform presence to link to
  • Conversion tracking and data improvements to better quantify the results of your Reddit ads
  • Improved ad campaign structure to maximize ad performance
  • An expansion of their Promoted Posts ad option to its mobile app

Let’s learn about Reddit advertising and how you can use this platform to maximize your advertising spend.

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What Is Reddit?

Reddit is a “social news aggregation, web content rating, and discussion website.” And, according to Amazon/Alexa, Reddit is the sixth most popular site in the US, ahead of Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. In the month of March 2019 alone, it pulled in almost 1.6 billion visits:

Reddit monthly visitors

In addition:

  • 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.
  • Reddit provides targeted niches for nearly everyone under the sun and its community is very active. And since its entire structure is based on sharing and discussing links and ideas, it lends itself very well to getting your content in front of a large group of people.
  • It is one one of advertising’s best kept secrets.

Why Should You Advertise on Reddit?

Reddit can send you lots of inexpensive traffic.

Because most marketers ignore the power of Reddit and market on Facebook or Twitter instead, it’s one of the best platforms to advertise on due to low competition and huge opportunity. Click To Tweet

The only thing needed is the knowledge to use the Reddit advertising correctly! Take these smart companies, for example:

The above are just a few examples that should persuade you to opt for Reddit advertising because it is low-hanging fruit that most marketers don’t want to pick.

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Striking Gold with Reddit and a Word of Caution

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 on this site 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.

The trick is to create content that’s so compelling it sticks to the front page of your specific subreddit.

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 users submit content either via an outlink or a text post. You just need to click on the Create Post button located on the right side as shown in the below image:

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Then you need to fill in the details of the post or the link URL:

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Remember to be human, share content that genuinely helps the Reddit community of users, stay away from spam and always read the community guidelines (content policy) before posting anything.

Prohibited content includes the usual stuff (illegal, pornographic, threatening, violent, etc.) and prohibited behavior on Reddit includes:

  • Asking for votes or engaging in vote manipulation
  • Breaking Reddit or doing anything that interferes with normal use of Reddit
  • Creating multiple accounts to evade punishment or avoid restrictions

Other users can comment and vote on your submissions. Reddit then uses this information to sort the most valuable content and keep it at the top of the page.

The below screenshot provides some examples of content that made it to the front page of Reddit. All you need is a piece of content that is unique, interesting and engaging.

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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. Your goal is to show up on the front page of your subreddit, your niche.

Here’s an example of a subreddit:

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Usually, if you post something new, Reddit’s algorithm gives you a bit of time on the front page to get initial exposure (how long depends on how active the community is).

After that, the most important factor is how many upvotes your post receives. The below post received around 32.4K votes, which are enough to push your content to the front page:

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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. And there’s no hiding your score – the karma points gets displayed in your profile:

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Note: 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 in 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 into oblivion.

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Joining the Community and Building Trust

Because Redditors hate all types of self-promotion, it’s a good idea to start interacting with the community, providing value, and earning karma before you share your own content.

To start, you need to find the right subreddits for your target audience. There will usually be more than one (such as /r/marketing, /r/digitalmarketing, or /r/entrepreneurship).

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):

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Once you’ve identified some relevant subreddits, 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 ban self-promotion or sharing content you have any stake in whatsoever)

Once you’ve found a community, subscribe to the subreddit by visiting the subreddit and clicking on the subscribe button:

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You can then start participating in the most popular conversations. Here are some tips to generate engagement in the subreddit:

  • 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.
  • 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 then it just so happens that you’re also making some cool stuff worth checking out.

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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 still 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.

Foundationinc analyzed 60,000 Reddit posts from over 150 top subreddits and found that:

  • Posts containing videos generate the most upvotes.
  • The best headlines are less than 120 characters.
  • Headlines about marketing that start with the phrases mentioned in the below graph are the most popular:

Reddit Marketing Headline

  • Adding a personal touch to your story makes it more appealing to the audience.
  • Insights backed by studies are perceived as more accurate.
  • If your post solves a problem, then start it with “If You Have….”. This will help you to receive the maximum engagement.

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. Have a look at the below discussion and the sharing of links. It’s natural and it’s aiding the discussion:

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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-formatted posts). But you should, at a minimum, include some points that tell the audience the key takeaways from your content.

Another cool strategy is to let Reddit know that you really value their attention by providing extra information, personalized to the community, that other visitors wouldn’t normally see. The below screenshot is an example of a post that briefly describes what the post is all about. The text educates people about a new diet in an effort to change their perception towards a disorder. The result is that people took action on it in the form of upvotes and comments.

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You can even post video content because video always receives special attention in the Reddit community. Have a look at the below post that received around 64.5K upvotes. The video is rare and thus attracts users to watch it.

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4) Don’t Stop Promoting Others

Just because you’ve started building a little trust doesn’t mean that 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 many factors. If everything you create is awesome, people’s tolerance will be a lot higher. If the community is less active, you may not be posting frequently enough to warrant waiting two 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) Always 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 marketers like hawks, it’s important not to do anything that gives them a reason to suspect you.

Follow these best practices to become a superstar in your chosen subreddit:

  • Write and share posts that show concern towards anyone/anything. Have a look at this one that demonstrates concern towards climate change. Posts like these that give people a strong reason to support the cause often receive lots of upvotes.

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  • Avoid many of the marketing hacks, like clickbait titles, you’ve been using elsewhere. 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.”
  • Reddit allows 300-character titles, so use them. Create detailed, informative titles that tell visitors what they will gain from clicking on your submission instead of the one above or below it.
  • Don’t ever ask for upvotes or clicks. It looks desperate and can be another serious trigger for many Redditors. Again, just focus on providing immediate value.
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Paid Advertising on Reddit

There are also several options for paid advertising on Reddit. Let’s explore each one of these.

1) Reddit Promoted 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). You can pay Reddit via the CPC, CPV or CPM model. This is the only self-serve ad option offered by Reddit, and this is what a promoted post looks like:

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One thing that’s really different and interesting 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 element is that users can still upvote (or downvote) your promoted 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 shit” like a paid post by someone with zero karma points.

How to Create Your First Ad Campaign

In order to create your first ad on Reddit, you need to login to your Reddit account via ads.reddit.com.

Step 1: Create Campaign

After you are logged in, you will be directed to the “Create Campaign” page where you need to fill in the details related to the campaign.

Enter the name of your campaign and select your ad objective, like brand awareness, traffic, conversions, etc.:

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Step 2: Create Ad Group

Thereafter, name your ad group, choose a target location, subreddit, preferred device, and time of the day when you wish to run your ads:

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Under the new structure of Reddit ads, you can segment your main campaigns into different ad groups based on the target audience, behavior and ad schedule:

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Step 3: Select Your Daily Budget and Bid

Once you have created your ad group(s), you need to select your daily budget and your preferred bid.

You can set two budgets: the daily budget (the amount that you wish to spend daily) and the lifetime budget (your entire campaign budget over a given date range).

Bids are of 3 types:

  • CPM – Amount you are willing to pay per 1,000 impressions
  • CPC – Amount you are willing to pay for every click on your ad
  • CPV – Amount you are willing to pay for every video view

Step 4: Choose a Campaign Start Date

Once you have created your ad group and selected your bids, the next step is to choose your campaign start date.

Step 5: Build Your Ad

Now you can actually start creating your first ad. In this step, you need to provide a name for your ad:

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Thereafter, you need to select your post type and add other details to the ad, like headline, link, image, etc.:

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Step 6: Preview and Submit

That’s it. The last step is to preview your ad and submit it. You need to click on the “Submit for Approval” button after you have finished reviewing your ad. It can take between 24-48 hours for the Reddit ads team to review and approve your ad.

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2) Display Ads

Display ads on Reddit work just like they would on Facebook or any other social platform: they show up in the sidebar with graphics to catch readers’ attention:

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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 $50,000.

If that’s you, you can get started by visiting the Reddit ads page and clicking on the “Advertising at Scale” button at the bottom of the page:

Reddit

3) Sponsored Q&A / AMA

Just like any other Ask Me Anything post, you set a time that you’ll be online to answer community questions and then start spreading the word. This gives your audience a chance to think of and then ask you about their challenges and concerns.

Reddit’s AMA threads are under the /r/IAmA/ subreddit, which has 19 million subscribers. There's also another, slightly less popular, AMA thread called /r/AMA subreddit with 340,000 subscribers.

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, though, you’ll need to contact Reddit to set these up with a minimum quarterly spend of $50,000 across all ads.

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So, Is Reddit Advertising Worth It?

While it’s true that Reddit can’t be “hacked” (marketing-wise) as easily 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 for several weeks (or even months) before seeing 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.

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