Reddit is one of the largest and most expansive online communities ever created. It has the power to make videos go viral, create and cultivate memes, crash websites with massive amounts of traffic, and best of all: bring likeminded people together.
Given its power, social media marketers want a piece of the pie. The only problem is, Reddit knows when it’s being marketed to. Sometimes they’ll approve, but most of the time they won’t.
In this post, I’m going to detail four of the main reasons Reddit hates your content and provide examples to help you better understand the community and how to use it for marketing.
It’s going to be a bumpy ride, so buckle in!
It’s Self-Serving, Disingenuous
Reddit hates self promotion. The social voting site’s users understand the power that the site’s massive base can have on any particular website or business, and don’t allow just anyone to take advantage of that.
So if your content is focused solely on marketing a product or driving traffic to your site, your chances of success on Reddit are slim to none.
There is one exception, though: being genuine.
If you take the time to appeal to Reddit, they’ll often allow you to get away with a little bit of self promotion. Here’s an example of how that can work:
Let’s say I’m an amateur game developer and my first game for the iPhone was just approved. Being an amateur, independent developer I don’t have the resources to market a new game that an established business would. So what am I supposed to do? Try Reddit!
But instead of just posting a link to my game saying “Hey Reddit, check out this awesome game! BUY IT NOW!” I could approach the situation in a way that would make my self-promotion appear less self-serving.
I’d make a self post, which does not directly link to an external site, writing about why I made the game and my goals for the future. (Reddit loves to help people out, as long as they’re open.) I would include a list of codes for users to download the game for free and ask for feedback from anyone who downloads it.
In the end, my post wouldn’t come off as just a way to get free promotion. It would come off as someone who’s just looking for feedback in order to improve. In other words: completely genuine.
The point is, you can’t get away with using Reddit as a platform for free advertising. If you want full access to the community’s potential you need to take the time to customize your marketing efforts to fit Reddit.
You Posted to a Major Subreddit
If you’re even thinking about self-promotion or marketing on Reddit, avoid the major subreddits. These include /r/funny, /r/pics, /r/technology, and other subreddits with subscribers in the 5+ million range.
With Reddit, you should try to stick to subreddits that focus on a topic that’s closely related to your content. Here’s an example of how that would work:
Let’s say I’m working with Nvidia on marketing a new line of PC video cards for gamers. I’m tasked with using Reddit to draw more attention to these video cards, as the site is largely comprised of young males and has plenty of popular subreddits related to video games.
Based on pure volume of users, my first instinct would be to go after /r/gaming, which has over 8.75 million subscribers as of writing this. That’s a huge audience!
The problem is, the gaming subreddit is mostly filled with images from games and news about games. How would my content fit in here? Well, it won’t.
This is where you have to get specific and creative with how you market on Reddit. Think long and hard about what it is you’re trying to accomplish.
For this example, the perfect subreddit to target is /r/buildapc. This is a community dedicated to helping people build custom PCs, mostly for hardcore gaming. Since I’m looking to market a new line of video cards, one of the core components to a gaming PC, these are the people who will most likely be in the market for Nvidia’s products.
While abiding by the genuine rule from the first part of this article, I would put together a few benchmarks that show the performance of the new video cards vs. an older model. This would show PC builders what the improvements they’ll see if they should upgrade to the new card.
Of course, I wouldn’t put this together as a sales pitch, as I’d present myself as a fellow enthusiast who’s simply excited about my new benchmarks.
Try to craft your story in a way that makes it as relevant and valuable to the specific subreddit you’re targeting. This will ultimately determine your success on Reddit.
Your Account is Brand New
“Why does matter?”
I don’t blame you for asking this, as it does seem like an odd reason for your content to receive hate.
Remember when I said Reddit users understand the site’s power? This was no joke. They’re actively looking for people who are trying to game the system or take advantage of the audience. One way they do this is by looking at user activity.
By clicking through to your profile, Reddit users can see when you joined and what you’ve done on the site recently. This includes items you’ve upvoted, downvoted, submitted, and commented on.
Usually the users perusing other users’ profiles are moderators. These are users that control individual subreddits, helping Reddit’s paid staff fight spam and keep the de-centralized community from falling into anarchy.
If a moderator gets the feeling your post isn’t genuine, they’re likely to take a look at your profile. From there, if they see nothing but self-serving content and comments on those posts, you could be reported for spam or have your content hidden from specific subreddits.
It might not seem fair, and not everyone likes Reddit’s moderator system, but it has allowed the community to grow beyond anything the founders every anticipated.
The best advice for those looking to use Reddit as a marketing platform would be to first seek to understand. Use Reddit as if you were just another everyday user. Find subreddits that fit your interests and start submitting content and replying to other comments. This will give your account a positive image.
You might even find that you enjoy using Reddit in the process.
It’s Not Funny, Informative, or Otherwise Entertaining
In order to succeed on Reddit, your content needs to be funny, informative, or somehow entertaining. There’s no getting around this. A link to a blog post announcing your company’s new blog post isn’t any of those things. To Reddit, it’s just spam.
Using the information supplied in this article, revisit the drawing board and start thinking of some creative ways to craft content specifically for Reddit. Sure, not everything can be made into a joke. But the things that can’t can be made to be extremely informative or otherwise entertaining to most readers/viewers.
At the end of the day, Reddit is what you make of it. The more time you put into providing value for the community, the more the community will reward you. Good luck!