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True leaders are always looking for new technologies that help them connect with their audience. Reddit is a growing platform which provides an extraordinary opportunity for politicians create more meaningful connections with their constituency.

This guide will help any politician find their audience on reddit, engage them in an authentic way and avoid damaging mistakes.

New to reddit?

beginners_guide_smallIf you are new to reddit, we strongly recommend you start with our Beginner’s Guide to reddit. The Beginner’s Guide will make you feel comfortable on reddit and give you the confidence to engage reddit communities.

Read the Beginner’s Guide to reddit (for Marketers)

Are you ready to engage redditors?

Many brands and leaders know about the marketing opportunities that reddit has to offer, but few are prepared to authentically engage redditors. Conversations on reddit can have endless replies and can go very deep. This means that every comment you make is open for criticism and feedback. Politicians that are afraid of in-depth conversations and being confronted on their ideas should not approach the reddit community.

Additionally, redditors will ask tough questions. Sometimes these questions will focus on personal issues that are related to the character of an individual. Most of the discussion on reddit is intelligent and productive, but be prepared to deal with “trolls” as well.

Before you move forward, think about your willingness to fully participate on reddit. If you cannot provide the transparency and honesty that redditors expect, you are better off avoiding the platform entirely.

Monitoring reddit

trackredditThe simplest thing any brand or leader can do is monitor reddit for conversations about themselves and topics they are interested in. TrackReddit is a free service you can use to receive email notifications when specific keywords are mentioned on reddit.

Start by tracking your name and common variations that are used (e.g. nicknames, shortened versions). Then think about key issues that you want more information about. For example, if the minimum wage is an important issue to you, track the phrase “minimum wage” as well as the names of specific organizations or movements that are associated with the cause. This will provide you with a list of links and conversations about the minimum wage and will be a great way to see what people are saying about the issue.

Make sure you or someone on your team is processing the notifications on a regular basis. It is not necessary to respond to every mention, but feel free to jump into the conversation if you have something of value to add. If a redditor is putting you down, tread lightly and be professional if you decide to engage.

You can learn more about TrackReddit here.

Discovering Regional Subreddits

The first place on reddit that every politician should visit is their very own state and local subreddits. Every state and many cities in the U.S. have a subreddit dedicated to it. These subreddits are important because they are an easy way to target your constituency.

Go to reddit.com/subreddits and type your city name in the search bar. A list of subreddits will appear, including the subreddit dedicated to your city (your state subreddit will likely appear, too). Click-through to the subreddits related to your region and subscribe to them. These subreddits are the foundation of your reddit experience, so get to know them well.

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Subreddit search results for “California”

If you do not find a subreddit for your city, also try searching at metareddit.com/reddits. This 3rd party search will sometimes find a subreddit that the reddit search does not.

Before engaging any subreddit, make sure you are confident in your understanding of reddit and comfortable using the reddit platform. A bad submission could have long-term effects on your ability to engage these communities.

Finding Other Relevant Subreddits

In addition to your local audience on reddit, there are thousands of subreddits that you can explore and engage. For instance, you could visit another local subreddit to discuss a program they have implemented that you are considering for your community. Or you could visit a topic-based subreddit to learn more about a specific issue you are facing.

Jerry Moran, a senator from Kansas, famously reached out to the Bitcoin subreddit to prepare for a Senate hearing on Bitcoin and crypto-currencies.

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Senator Jerry Moran’s submission to /r/Bitcoin

There are subreddits dedicated to almost everything, so use the subreddit search again to find communities that can help answer your questions and solve problems. Most subreddits will be thrilled to contribute their knowledge towards helping a leader make a policy decision.

How to Engage Subreddits

  • Vote and comment – Like every good redditor, you should be following a group of subreddits and consuming content that other redditors are posting. Upvote the content you like and downvote the content you do not like. Read the comments made on new and top submissions and join the conversation when appropriate. Participating in comments is an easy way to contribute to a community and it will help you get to know the community.
  • Share announcements – Do you have important information to announce? You can share it with a relevant subreddit. Maybe a new policy was passed or there is a special event you want to share with redditors. You can share these on reddit, but be careful about being too promotional and make yourself available for comments after you submit.
  • Ask for feedback – As a leader and representative, it is important to know what your constituents think. Reddit is a great platform for gathering feedback on almost anything. You can do this in your local subreddits, or you can go to a topic-based subreddit (like Jerry Moran did for Bitcoin) to gather information. Redditors will appreciate a leader/representative showing up to find out what they think. Again, make sure you are available to comment and discuss the feedback.
  • Hold an AMA (Ask Me Anything) – AMAs are a great way to introduce yourself to a subreddit community. AMAs for politicians should be held in your local subreddit or in the main /r/IAmA subreddit if you are a national leader. Make sure you are available to answer as many questions as possible, and be aware that tough feedback will come your way. Use our free Reddit AMA Guide to learn how to plan and execute a successful AMA.
  • Advertise – Advertising on reddit gives you the ability to place your submission at the top of a specific subreddit or the front page. Redditors are a little more accepting of promotional material in ads, but effective reddit ads also contribute value and engage redditors. Go to reddit.com/advertising to learn more about their advertising platform.

TL;DR

Reddit can be used as a way to connect with voters and get a firsthand look at what they are saying about candidates and issues. Successful reddit marketing campaigns start with an understanding of reddit and the reddit communities that you wish to engage. If you need help with reddit basics, read our Beginner’s Guide to reddit.