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You’d be forgiven for being frightened of marketing on Reddit. It’s a goldmine for users but a minefield for anyone even hinting at self-promotion. 

Yet despite the risks, some marketers have managed to pull it off.

In this post I’m going to cover five brands that have overcome the obstacles and achieved some positive results on Reddit. 

Lenovo

This is a perfect example of really effective marketing that doesn’t really look or feel like marketing at all, and a good lesson in what works for brands on Reddit.

Lenovo teamed up with Onion Labs, the native advertising arm of satirical publisher The Onion, to create a fantasy football web series called ‘Tough Season’. 

In the series the main character plays a game called ‘Computer Slap’, which basically involved him smashing up computers with a Lenovo laptop.  

Lenovo challenged the Reddit community to create an 8-bit version of the game for a chance to win a prize.

The campaign prompted more than 107,000 clicks and 25 game submissions.

Check out the winning entry if you’ve got a few minutes to kill. It’s what I imagine it would look like if Dhalsim retired from Street Fighter to become an IT consultant. 

Lenovo Tough Season 8-bit game winner

This campaign’s success lies in the fact that Lenovo really understood what would appeal to the Reddit community, as this extract from its post shows:

We chose Reddit because we know you guys are collaborative, creative, and would “get” the weirdness of Tough Season. This winning game proves we came to the right people.

Nissan

The key to successfully marketing on Reddit is authenticity. If you’re seen to be self-promoting and not genuinely contributing to the community, or if you come across as someone who clearly doesn’t understand how the site works, you’ll swiftly be shot down.

Nissan enlisted two of its community managers, who were genuine Reddit users themselves (‘Redditors’, to use the proper term), to create a competition thread on the site and invite people to request their favourite items on Amazon


Being Reddit, there were some ridiculous answers that were clearly meant to take the piss, but once people realised that Nissan was actually following through on some of the requests the post blew up. 

The post received almost 1,500 comments that were mostly positive.

Nissan appeared on Reddit again a couple of weeks later when it delivered a car to someone in Wisconsin an enormous Amazon box. 

The delivery was supposed to be revealed in a video ad after the event, but a beady-eyed Redditor saw the truck and spilled the beans. Nissan had the last laugh, though, because that post hit the site’s front page.  

Nissan campaign on Reddit

Nissan campaign on Reddit

The lesson here is that marketers shouldn’t be afraid of running campaigns on Reddit as long as they actually understand the community and its own brand of humour. Giving away a free car might also help. 

Maker’s Mark

Bourbon brand Maker’s Mark experimented with Reddit back in 2013 with a campaign called ‘Let it Snoo’, a play on the name of Reddit’s own Alien mascot, Snoo.   

The post received a huge number of comments considering it was only an ad, and the majority of those were positive. 

Maker's Mark Reddit campaign comments

Maker's Mark Reddit campaign comments

Maker's Mark Reddit campaign comments

This campaign succeeded because the brand understood its audience. Reddit is basically one constantly churning sea of in-jokes, and Maker’s Mark played on that fact without coming across as cringeworthy or insincere. 

Maker’s Mark ran another campaign in which it invited Redditors to come up with fake Reddit or Whiskey-related horse names for the Kentucky Derby. Again the campaign had a very positive reaction. 

Favourite entries of mine include:

  • Pity the Foal.
  • Maple Stirrup.
  • Kentucky Derpy.

Spotify

One thing Reddit is good for is starting a deep conversation about something, and that’s what Spotify aimed to do when it asked users questions about the different emotions that songs sparked in them. 

Over the course of a few weeks, more than 2,300 comments, 450 brand interactions and 10,000 submissions, the community created a playlist based on the campaign. 

Spotify used the data from the campaign to create several Reddit-inspired playlists, and was subsequently named Reddit’s ‘Community Brand of the Year 2014’.

This campaign succeeded because it could have been posted by any Redditor. It just happened to be from a brand. 

That kind of authenticity and ability to blend in with the community is the key to successfully marketing on Reddit.  

Ikea

This was kind of an accidental win from Ikea, but somebody (jury still out as to whether they were prompted to do so by the brand) posted this newspaper ad in the ‘Funny’ subreddit and Redditors were absolutely loving it.

Ikea post on Reddit

Sure, this might not qualify as a Reddit marketing campaign per se, but it can still teach marketers a lesson about how to engage with the site’s community. 

Redditors are not afraid to post about a brand if the content is genuinely clever or witty and chimes with the site’s unique community. 

Conclusion: know thy audience and they won't slap you down

Reddit has some of the best communities on the internet, and I’d go as far as to say it is my favourite website of all time (apart from this one, obviously), but its users are extremely unforgiving when it comes to unrepentant marketing guff. 

There are huge opportunities for brands on the site, but you have to truly learn how the site works and the way people react to certain content. Otherwise you could end up doing much more harm than good. 

I’d be really interested to hear from anyone who has carried out a successful campaign on Reddit. Let me know in the comments below.

Jack Simpson

Published 8 March, 2016 by Jack Simpson

Jack Simpson is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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