On paper the answer is the former: 7.87bn monthly pageviews and 203m unique monthly visitors at the time of writing.
Not to mention engagement levels most sites can only dream of and ready-made communities for every topic or industry you can imagine.
But is all that Reddit traffic actually of any value to marketers, or should we just leave the whole terrifying place well alone and go back to the safety of the tried and tested social networks we know and love?
In this post I’m going to cover a few of the options for marketing on Reddit, along with some of the things you need to watch out for if you don’t want to be eaten alive.
What is Reddit?
For the uninitiated among you, I apologise in advance. If you’re just discovering Reddit for the first time then prepare to lose at least two hours of your daily life browsing this digital treasure trove. Probably more if we’re being honest. It’s ridiculously addictive.
Self-styled as ‘the front page of the internet’, Reddit is a massive forum-style site where people can ask questions or post external content that other users can then rate and comment on.
And it really does feel like the front page of the internet in terms of the freshness of the content: I guarantee at least one story you’ve seen on the home page of a major news site in the last week or so will have appeared on Reddit first.
The Karma system
Content lives and dies by the Karma system on Reddit. Users can ‘upvote’ or ‘downvote’ posts and that post will then be ranked on the site accordingly. The more upvotes something receives the more visible it will be.
But timing also impacts the visibility of a post. To keep the content fresh, newer posts require fewer upvotes in order to secure a high position on the site.
Confused? Here’s a picture of the homepage, which features the top-performing posts across all subreddits (which I’ll cover in more detail below). You can see the voting buttons on the left of each post, along with the Karma score.
If we look at that same screenshot again, this time I’ve circled the subreddit in which each post was submitted.
Effectively they’re categories, but in the case of Reddit they are much more than that.
Subreddits are individual communities, and all of them have their own unique tone, their own set of rules and appreciate different types of content and conversation.
Marketing on Reddit: the options
Now you know what Reddit is and how it works, let’s look at the potential options for marketers.
The important thing to bear in mind is that the Reddit community is extremely intolerant of self-serving marketing guff of any kind, which might make you wonder what the point of this post is.
But that’s exactly why I like the idea of Reddit as a marketing channel: It actually forces marketers to think about how they can provide genuine value to the audience, which can only ever be a good thing.
Find a relevant subreddit
Reddit can seem like a bit of a mess at first glance, but when you get your head around subreddits it all makes sense and becomes much easier to navigate to the content you’re interested in.
If a hobby, interest or industry exists, you can bet there’s a subreddit for it, usually with an active and highly engaged community attached.
To go directly to a subreddit you just type reddit.com/r/nameofsubreddit.
If you don’t know the name of the subreddit you want, however, you can begin your Reddit marketing adventure by searching for one related to your business.
But choose carefully, because not all subreddits are created equal.
Let’s say I have a tech blog and I regularly post about the latest gadgets. If I search for ‘tech gadgets’ on Reddit I get the following results:
As you can see there are a few options, all of which are relevant to my tech blog. But the top result has by far the highest traffic so out of these options this is the one I would put my time and effort into.
The problem with the above option, however, is that anything you post is very likely to get lost in the noise.
Personally I think it’s better to aim for a smaller but more engaged community.
In the example below you can see I searched for ‘technology news’ and got different results.
The third option, /r/tech, still has over 80,000 subscribers so I know there is plenty of potential traffic, but I am much more likely to be heard among that crowd than the 4.3m in /r/gadgets.
Join the conversation
The other thing that attracts me to /r/tech is the text in the description about ‘informative and thought-provoking self posts.’
Self posts are essentially text posts that don’t link to any external content. This means you have to create something specifically for the subreddit rather than linking to a pre-existing blog post or piece of content.
But it also means this subreddit is ready and willing to read genuinely useful information or interesting ideas from somebody, and if you’re an expert in that particular field then you’ve got a real opportunity to be part of the conversation.
Why is this valuable if you can’t link to your own site? Think of it as PR, but instead of having to persuade editors to publish your ‘expert’s opinion piece’ the audience decides whether it’s worthy of being seen.
Do an AMA
AMA stands for ‘Ask Me Anything’, and they are one of the most popular features on Reddit.
Effectively it’s a Q&A session where Redditors (as users of the site call themselves) do the grilling. Again the Karma system comes into play here as the best questions and answers get voted to the top.
The most popular subreddit for this is /r/IAmA.
/r/IAmA tends to feature people who are of high interest to the masses, such as celebrities or directors of household name brands that have been in the media spotlight recently for whatever reason.
But if you have a genuinely intriguing story that relates to your business and is relevant to current events, people may still be interested.
A new invention that answers a widely discussed problem might be an example of this.
Failing that you could aim lower and look to do an AMA within a specific subreddit. Some of them, like /r/books below, are very receptive to these types of posts.
Conclusion: give to the community and you might get something back
Reddit is all about the community feel, and as a marketer your only real option (aside from paying for ads) is to join the conversation and become part of that community.
People will simply not accept being sold or promoted to on this site, and you’ll likely end up getting banned from subreddits and potentially doing damage to your brand.
If you are genuinely interested in, and knowledgeable about, what is happening in your industry, then you can have some really valuable conversations on this site that could potentially put you and your brand on the map.
But be warned: Marketing speak will not be tolerated here. Honest, interesting, informative content only. And personally I think that’s a good thing.