A successful Reddit post is a lot like a good joke. It’s in context, doesn’t feel forced, and everyone his happier for having heard it. Growth hackers need to understand their community well since they will turn on you the moment they feel like they are being manipulated. It’s a lot like that scene from Inception when all the people in the dream turn against Ariadne because they sense an interloper messing with their world.
In this article I’m going to show you a good and a bad example of how to use Reddit for brand promotion.
Reddit is a website lovingly referred to by its users as “the Front Page of the Internet”. According to Pew Research, approximately 6% of adult Internet users visit the site regularly. That may not seem like a lot but consider that 6% of a very, very big number.
The site consists of users submitted links which are voted up or down by the community. If a link gets a lot of up votes, it shows up at the top of the page thus generating more exposure. Additionally, there is a great deal of comment participation on these links. Comment visibility is also run in a democratic sense via up and down votes. The wittier or funnier you are the better.
Given its reach, Reddit is one of the most popular spots you’ll find overt/covert marketers, and everyone in between trying to move the herd to their desired location. When done well, the site becomes a place to interact directly with customers providing opportunities to delight and strengthen their connection with you. The manufacturer of computer RAM chips Corsair, which targets the Gaming community, is successfully leveraging the site to increase affinity for their brand.
Corsair Spinning Goodwill into Front Page Gold
One of the best examples of community management and promotion can be seen on r/pcmasterrace (still a terrible name I can’t quite get behind). The company representative goes by the name GloriousGeOrge. George spends a great deal of time commenting on links, and generally being a good community member. In other words, he doesn’t come across like a used car salesman or even worse a shill.
Take a look at George’s posting history and you’ll see participation across several sub-Reddits and very few comments are overtly sales related. Have you ever been to a party and someone joins the group your talking to and tries to radically redirect the conversation? For example you’re talking about snorkeling in Hawaii and this guy starts talking about how much they like their new Honda and the sale going on at their dealership. How would you feel about this stranger awkwardly attempting to hijack your conversation? Exactly; you don’t need a bunch of research to tell you it pisses people off. At the party you could walk away to escape. Online the community fights back.
Gorge’s latest PR coup for Corsair was to pick up the pieces after a scammer messed with the community. In short a person promised to give away copies of Fallout 4 but then reneged. George and the folks at Corsair picked up the mantle and made good on the scammer’s contest.
Corsair gave away $180 in games and ended up as number 1 on the front page of Reddit.
Now that we’ve seen the power of doing it right, let’s see how the crew working PR for 2016 Presidential candidate Bobby Jindal did it the wrong way.
The Marketer’s Badge of Shame: Reddit’s r/HailCorporate
It’s my opinion that every candidate has their people working Reddit. If they aren’t they should. Actually, that’s a pretty good test of your campaign manager. If it’s a national race and there isn’t a Reddit strategy, it’s time to reevaluate your hiring choices. 2016 Presidential candidate Bobby Jindal’s team failed so miserably at trying to blend in, they ended up on r/HailCorporate. That’s where Reddit users name and shame the people they find trying to manipulate the community.
I believe Reddit user CollegSoph25 is a blatant shill for Jindal. This person has been on the site 1 day and at the time of this article has made 65 comments. 100% of those are about Bobby Jindal. As you can see the -100 comment karma reflects all the down votes this person has gotten by being a blatant shill.
Here we can see a little bit of their posting history. This is either some Cathy Bates in Misery obsession or a political operative.
Reddit Growth Hacking Take Aways
For you aspiring Growth Hackers and Digital Marketers looking to dive into Reddit community involvement, here are some take always from my 8 years on the site. Don’t judge, I swear I was working the whole time. And, no; I won’t tell you my username.
- If you’re a representative of a company don’t hide it. It’s very hard to fit into sheep’s clothing when you’re a wolf. You can do it for so long but eventually the pattern will emerge and a keyboard commando will dig into you with a microscope and spread dirt with a megaphone. Once your cover is blown not only is the account dead but the brand takes a big hit.
- Actually, participate in the community beyond the area you want to influence. Real accounts on Reddit have multiple comments in various topics. Don’t be the laughable CollegSoph25 with 100% Bobby Jindal all the time.
- When you have an opportunity to be a white knight by giving away free stuff, take it. These feel good stories are the type of viral content you want. It won’t cost you much and you’ll get better exposure than you could ever buy. Here is another example of George giving away hardware to a gamer that can only use 1 arm.