When I speak with my peers in social media marketing and read the online chatter, a lot of the conversation revolves around Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, sometimes with a sprinkling of Pinterest, Snap, and LinkedIn. But in my experience, there is one social platform that is too rarely part of the discussion: Reddit.
What if I told you that Reddit has over 330 million monthly visitors – on par with Twitter and significantly higher than LinkedIn, Snap and Pinterest. In fact, it is the fifth most popular website in the U.S., and its users spend an average of 16 minutes every time they visit.
It’s time for marketers and social media mavens to get to know Reddit and consider it as another option available to us to better understand and engage with our audiences.
A Way to Reach Men – And More
Women are generally more active on social media networks, particularly when it comes to posting and commenting. In contrast, Reddit’s user base skews about two-thirds male, offering paths to reaching a male audience, and providing unique social listening opportunities.
That said, don’t discount the diversity of interests of this user base. Reddit’s most popular topics – organized around more than a million “subreddits” – currently cover a wide range of topics: world news, relationship advice, documentaries, DIY projects, and funny videos of “animals being jerks,” just to name a few.
A Community Built on Common Interests
The future of media isn’t “share of voice” but “share of conversation” – and a key way to authentically engage in conversation with your target audiences starts with understanding the various subcultures that inform their identities. Because Reddit users group themselves around their common interests, not their demographics or real-world social networks, marketers have more opportunities to create content that uniquely resonates with their self-identified interests.
One great example of leveraging this for marketing purposes is a “Game of Thrones” promotion on Reddit just ahead of the final season. An ad prompted fans to vote for who would “win the throne,” then subscribed them to subreddits with other fans who were rooting for the same outcome (for example, r/sansawinsthethrone and r/JonWinsTheThrone). By spawning even more subreddits around an already-popular topic, the show cultivated smaller, highly engaged communities who celebrated when their chosen character triumphed (or at least survived the episode!) and even had friendly rivalries with other subreddits.
Anonymity and Authenticity
For most of us, using social media has become an exercise in carefully curating only our most flattering photos, sharing only the highlights of our lives, and always keeping in mind that our boss’s boss or judgmental Aunt Sally may be scrolling through our feed.
In contrast, Reddit users are typically anonymous, posting from a handle and rarely sharing personal photos or identifying information. The result is conversations that are more candid and “real,” often diving into topics and perspectives that may be too personal or controversial for traditional social media channels. And unlike Facebook and Instagram, posts are all public – a treasure trove for social listening.
This authenticity among users also means that the bar is set high for brands and causes to connect with Redditors in an authentic way. Reddit users are a highly media literate and skeptical group and are quick to turn against a disingenuous or “try-hard” messaging from a brand.
One authentic way to involve your cause or brand in a conversation is by participating in an “Ask Me Anything.” For example, the Ad Council’s Seize the Awkward campaign partnered with Reddit to host an AMA with a mental health expert about how to help friends who may be struggling. The conversation drove over 600 comments, with many commenters sharing their own tips and experiences dealing with mental health struggles – a topic they may not have discussed so openly on other social media channels.
The best way to understand the world of Reddit is to dive in head first and explore it for yourself. By first understanding it as a user, you can then begin to imagine how you may be able to tap into its communities as a marketer as well.