Every few days we see a new job posted to Elance or Upwork requesting a “reddit expert that can drive traffic to our website”. To a non-redditor, this might seem like a reasonable request. In this post we show you why it is not reasonable, why you have to become a redditor first, and the types of marketing results that reddit can actually deliver.

Why non-redditors fail

Non-redditors typically have a flawed perception of reddit. They see it as a social bookmarking site where the right meme or headline can get their name to the front page and drive large amounts of traffic to their website. This strategy is doomed from the beginning, yet it is so enticing because content is making it to the front page every day and receiving massive amounts of traffic.

The truth is that getting a promotional post to the top of a large subreddit is extremely hard to do and here’s why.

Take the very popular TodayILearned” subreddit that has over 8 million subscribers. In the last 24 hours, 250 posts have been subitted to the subreddit and this does not count all of the posts that were submitted but removed for breaking the rules (e.g. spam). Let’s assume that we can submit a post that is not caught in the spam filter and does not break the rules. Getting in the top 10 of the subreddit for the day could be considered a “marketing win” and if we assume that our post has as good enoguh chance as any other (big assumption), the odds would be about 1 in 25. If we go a little deeper, we can see why this logic is flawed.

Looking at /r/TodayILearned at the time this article was written, 4 of the top 10 posts submitted in the past 24 hours could be considered promotional for a brand. Let’s take a closer look at the 4 posts that could be considered promotional and why they made it to the top of /r/TodayILearned.

Top Post #1

Johan spent $14,000,000 preserving one of earth's precious natural resources.

Johan spent $14,000,000 preserving one of earth’s precious natural resources.

Top Post #2

This is one of the most interesting and niche businesses we have ever heard of.

This is one of the most interesting and niche businesses we have ever heard of.

Top Post #3

Two international brands settled a multi-million dollar lawsuit because of a devastating natural disaster.

Two international brands settled a multi-million dollar lawsuit because of a devastating natural disaster.

Top Post #4

Pro wrestling star fulfilled the wishes of 400 children with terminal illnesses.

Pro wrestling star fulfilled the wishes of 400 children with terminal illnesses.

Each one of these posts contributes an incredible headline and story. This should give you an idea of the type of competition for the “front page” that is happening every day on reddit. If you have done something truly unique and amazing, you have a shot. Otherwise, your post might not even make it past the mods.

It is also important to note that none of these posts appear to be purposefully promotional. Redditors understand the value of their communities and therefore are extremely skeptical of self-promotion. If you are actively trying to promote yourself on reddit, a certain percentage of the reddit community will pick up on that and it will decrease your chance of success.

Your best bet is to completely opt-out of the front page game. Reddit has so much more to offer when you stop competing for the obvious prizes and focus on becoming a member of the communities related to your business.

What does reddit have to offer?

All marketing is fundamentally rooted in talking to people that have a problem you can solve. If you are interested in learning more about your customers and the language they use to describe their problems, then reddit has plenty to offer.

Targeted communities

/r/Fitness30Plus has ~10,000 subscribers and is a community for 30+ year-olds to discuss fitness.

/r/Fitness30Plus has ~10,000 subscribers and is a community for 30+ year-olds to discuss fitness.

Reddit is a collection of communities, each of which has a set of constraints (e.g. a topic, demographic, or content type). This allows marketers to find their target audience very easily on reddit.

For example, there is a multitude of health and fitness communities on reddit that would be of interest to a blogger or product designer in this space. There are large communities for the general topic of fitness and then there are smaller communities that break down into more niche topics like a specific diet or demographic. Businesses in the health and fitness category can learn a lot about their market by observing them on reddit as they share content, discuss problems, and help each other find solutions. A business that has also taken the time to become a redditor will know how to join the conversation and establish a welcome and valuable presence in the community.

Redditors can vote on all posts and comments

The sentiment metrics that reddit provides are unmatched by any other social media platform. Every post and comment is voted on by the community, giving the marketer additional information about what is being said.

For example, if a user posts a complaint about a product and it receives a significant amount of upvotes, you can be confident that other members of the community can relate to the complaint. Conversely, if a complaint has a negative score you can probably ignore it. This feature becomes even more valuable as you begin to engage redditors. When you make a post or comment, you will see how the community feels about it and can adjust your strategy accordingly.

The ability to listen to and engage a targeted demographic on a deep level is the major feature that reddit has to offer to marketers. A true redditor can take advantage of this opportunity with ease.

How to become a redditor

Becoming a redditor takes time, but we wrote the Beginner’s Guide to reddit to make it straightforward and easy. After you get through the Beginner’s Guide, you’ll have a deeper understanding of reddit and how it become a valuable part of your marketing strategy.