Almost any business can benefit from using Reddit as a marketing tool. Afterall, it calls itself the “Front Page of the Internet”, which is more than appropriate with it’s fascinating mix of interesting links, conversations, news and social commentary. It’s a community for sharing content and ideas and pieces of information that you find useful.
If you’re new to Reddit it can seem overwhelming at first. With the sheer volume of subReddits alone, Reddit is a neverending information buffet. The key is to just get in there and watch what’s going on. Search the topic of your business audience’s interest and see what people are saying. Reddit is a fantastic tool to gather ideas for things like content creation, blogs, podcasts, email newsletters and more. It will take your broad topic and niche it down into different related avenues – or subReddits – that your ideal audience is also interested in.
Jon Quinton loves talking SEO and coffee. He has also achieved success both for his own agency as well as that of his client’s by using Reddit as an effective and creative marketing tool.
Rich: Jon Quinton is the Agency Director at Builtvisible, an agency based in London that specializes in technical SEO, content marketing and creative services. With 10 years experience, Jon has consulted for some of the world’s leading brands and proudly contributed to some of the world’s top industry events. Jon, welcome to the show.
Jon: Hi Rich, how’s it going? Thank you very much for having me.
Rich: This is going to be great. Now today you’ve got a lot of SEO experience, but we’re going to be talking about a very different subject, we’re going to be talking about Reddit. Now as far as social media marketing platforms go, Reddit just doesn’t’ get mentioned all that often, why do you think that is?
Jon: I don’t know, I think it’s kind of old school a little bit when you think and compare it against Facebook, plus it’s slightly less mass appeal. It’s a corner of the internet with a very succinct community. It’s not like my mum’s on Reddit, right?
Rich: Unless you’ve got the coolest mom ever.
Jon: My mum’s quite cool but she’s not on Reddit. So I think it’s slightly less, you haven’t got the breadth of the population as you would on other platforms. But I think it’s an excellent place to go, I think it’s full of really fascinating insights and conversation and I think ignoring it is a mistake and I think if people who are working in content marketing or ideation or any form of content production, personally I think you’re missing a bit of a trick. The underdog, maybe, in the world of platforms.
Rich: Now that’s interesting because when I first got into social media there was definitely this whole thing about social bookmarking type sites and things like Digg and Delicious and then Reddit almost seemed like an after run – or an also run – and then all of a sudden it’s like it’s the only one seemingly left standing as far as those kind of sites go.
Jon: Yeah, exactly. It’s still massive and hugely active and you can still find almost anything on any topic in there. So yeah, you’re right, it’s the one that’s left standing.
Rich: Alright, so for those people who have never been to Reddit, and even though they call it the “First Page of the Internet” or something like that, a lot of people – even marketers – have not been to Reddit. So how do you describe Reddit to somebody who’s never gone and who’s not experienced with it?
Jon: I guess the way you describe Reddit is it’s a community for sharing content and ideas and pieces of information that you find useful. Reddit’s organized by sections called “subReddits”, and those are typically organized by topic or interest groups. So you have a community sharing content that’s interesting, then you have these specific niche communities and subReddits that share content specific to a particular topic like coffee or MotoGp or futurism or data visualizations.
Rich: Alright, so you think it’s a good place for tapping into inspirations, so tapping into the communities that might be there that may be your audience.
Jon: Yeah, absolutely. I mean if you’re working in a particular industry and you want to know what type of content works and you want a quick view on what that content might look like, then Reddit is a superb place to go.
Rich: Alright. So we talked a little about, you mentioned coffee drinkers and MotoGP – I’ve been in there and looked – there’s not just comics, then there’s Marvel Comics and DC Comics versus Independent Comics and you can niche down and niche down and niche down. But is Reddit right for all types of businesses? I mean we have to make decisions on where we’re going to spend our time, can every business benefit from Reddit?
Jon: I think so. There’s so much there. For example, we work with an insurance client and they have a whole portfolio of products across different areas. They might insure boats, they might insure dinghies, I think they even do sword swallowing insurance. So you might look at that and think insurance is dull, you’re never going to find anything interesting on Reddit. But if you’re looking for content that appeals to those audience types, then there’s bound to be something there.
Rich: Alright, then we should go looking for the sword swallowing subReddit, which is not easy to say, by the way.
Jon: I don’t even know if there is one, but I think it would be quite interesting.
Rich: As a side note, my second Agents Of Change Digital Marketing Conference opened with a sword swallower, my friend Roderick Russell.
Jon: Was he insured adequately?
Rich: You know, I don’t know. He didn’t need it that day, but hopefully he is insured adequately, yes.
Jon: You see my point, though. Any industry you’re in where you’re producing content, the goal really is then to engage with an audience that has interests, and there might be interests around that product or area. There’s always going to be something interesting to find, and if there’s something interesting to find then I’d be very surprised if there wasn’t some insight to be drawn from Reddit.
Rich: Alright, so what I’m hearing from you is almost any business – maybe every business – could benefit, especially if you’re doing some content creation and you’re looking for ideas, things to share whether through your blog, podcast, Facebook, Twitter, whatever, that Reddit is a good place to go because there are so many unique communities there that you can tap into. Is that a good summary for the inspiration side of things?
Jon: Yeah, I think so. So as an example, the futurism subReddit is always really interesting and it covers all sorts of things and it’s all about people having a fun play at second guessing the future. There’s some really interesting discussions and pieces of content on there like I was looking through this morning and I found a really funny tweet of someone who was at the airport and they’d forgotten to leave their bionic arm on charge overnight so there was a picture of them charging up their bionic arm at the airport. There’s all sorts of wonderful stuff on there and the data is beautiful. SubReddit is really good if you’re looking for inspiration for what types of data might be suitable for localization or what’s working well or so many good ideas from that.
Rich: Alright, so let’s say that somebody is listening to the show and they like the idea and they want to go get inspired and see what their community is talking about and find different things that they can be sharing across their social media channels. They get to the homepage of Reddit, they’re overwhelmed by all of the text and images and things going on, what do they do next, what’s the first step if you’re new to Reddit?
Jon: Just operating a simple search is obviously a good way to go. Like earlier we were talking about coffee, let’s say you run a coffee shop or you do mail order coffee, you want to target or engage with the coffee loving audience. I think coffee is a really good example because it’s quite a passionate thing. I love my coffee, I think in the house we have probably 5 or 6 different devices for making coffee, I love it. So if you just go on to Reddit and you search for “coffee”, you’ll see all sorts of things and then eventually you’ll probably stumble across the coffee subReddit. Again, there are some super interesting things there and you can just start to flip through the topics and have a look at what people are sharing.
When I’m doing this, I’m looking for themes. So not necessarily the thing itself but what sort of themes people are talking about. I’m looking at the coffee subReddit now and you’ve got stuff like, “Question: How coffee from beer taps”, and you’ve got discussion around that. You’ve got the “Must see map for anyone interested in Japan’s coffee culture”, so instantly you’re thinking about a tongue in cheek look at coffee coming from beer taps or travel, what other cultures exist in the world that also love coffee and what sort of comparisons can we start to do from that. Instantly you’ll start to see ideas.
Rich: Yeah, so that makes a lot of sense. So I might get ideas on things to talk about, but also ways I might think of taking my business just from some of the conversations I’m seeing from these people who are so passionate about – in this case – coffee.
Now if I like a Reddit – and I haven’t looked, there might be multiple subReddit’s about coffee or related to coffee – I can then subscribe to those Reddit’s, correct?
Jon: Yeah, exactly. So once you set up an account – which is super easy to do – like you say, Reddit is a big place and if you land on it for the first time it probably can seem a little bit overwhelming. So the first thing to do is set up an account. When you set up an account you’re automatically subscribed to a fairly big number of subReddit’s, so the first thing to do when you’ve got an account is to start taking out the subReddit’s and topics that you’re not interested in and just start building up a relatively small collection of subReddit’s that you are interested in.
So for me it would be things like the coffee subReddit, the MotoGP subReddit, data is beautiful subReddit – because as an agency we’re doing lots of data – so I want to keep on top of what’s happening there. And immediately you’ve just got a very relevant stream of conversations that you’re genuinely interested in and gathering genuine insight from.
Rich: So on some level, Reddit is just like a bulletin board system. It feels a little more interactive, but it does go back to those early web 1.0 bulletin board systems where people are having conversations around specific topics.
Jon: Yeah, exactly.
Rich: Alright. But there’s this thing called “karma” on Reddit.
Jon: The currency.
Rich: Yes. The currency of Reddit. Could you explain that to me?
Jon: So I would describe karma as the currency of Reddit. So if you’re getting really into Reddit, you’re probably going to care quite a lot about your karma score. So the way you earn karma is through sharing links, getting your links subvoted, commenting. You lose karma is people downvote your links, too. So it’s really a way of measuring your contribution, I suppose, to the community. The more you contribute and the more you successfully contribute, the higher your karma score gets.
Rich: What is the benefit of having a high karma score? Do your posts rise to the top more automatically, do you get more friends or followers, what exactly do you get for this currency? Or is it just bragging rights?
Jon: Well, I think that’s pretty cool But the more karma you get, the more likely you are to succeed. So if you’re really getting into it and you want to be seen more and you want more posts to be seen, the more karma you have the easier that’s going to be.
Rich: I see. So by contributing to the community you rise in the ranks of the community – so to speak – as long as you’re having, if not a positive influence, you’re having an influence where people are upvoting you, your comments, your replies and that sort of thing, correct? There’s a certain gamification going on?
Jon: Yeah, it’s all gamification, absolutely.
Rich: Now one thing that I’ve been told is you really need to be careful on Reddit, like if you go in there and you just start trying to promote your brand of coffee or whatever, that there will be very often a very negative reaction, that just does not fly on Reddit. Are there examples of businesses that have gone onto Reddit and either been successful being a little pushy salesy, or is it more like people react negatively to that kind of blatant salesmanship on Reddit?
Jon: If you’re going to Reddit with the sole purpose of trying to promote your business, I don’t think it’s the place to be. Back to your point on the fact that Reddit has been the one that stuck around, I think they’ve been able to stick around because they’ve been able to beat that challenge. If you set up an account and you’re just posting stuff from your business to promote your business in a very salesy way, you’re not going to last very long. It’s a real community so it’s not about that at all.
For us as an agency, we’ve had a lot of success from content we’ve put out being posted on Reddit, reaching the front page. If you can reach the front page with your content, the volume of traffic you get is absolutely insane, it’s ridiculous, you’re talking tens and tens of thousands of visits within hours, it’s massive. So clearly the temptation is there, but the way we’ve seen that success is through a very natural pick up. As an agency, we certainly don’t go and just post all our content to get that traffic. If someone sees our content from some other work we’ve done asn happen to be a fairly powerful Reddit user, they post that content on Reddit and it happens naturally. I think that’s the way you’ve got to try. If you want that traffic from Reddit it has to be earned, you can’t just go in and start promoting your business.
Rich: Alright. At the same time there is an advertising platform on Reddit, correct?
Jon: Yeah, you can do paid submissions, yeah.
Rich: So have you as either an agency or any of your clients played around with those paid ads?
Jon: No, we haven’t done that. That, for us, is quite unexplored. Like I said, the benefits that we’ve had have been from very organic activity on Reddit. I read a case study on Shopify on their success stories section and there was a business there that promoted a sale on Reddit and they were custom trainers or something – it was quite a cool product – it was a very small business, cool and organic and they’d seen huge success from that. But personally we haven’t played around with that paid activity on Reddit.
Rich: It does seem that that has to at least be part of any platform these days, is some sort of advertising platform to help pay for all these sort of things. How does Reddit fit in with the rest of your marketing or your client’s marketing? Is this just about the inspiration and ideas for content creation, or does it more naturally fit in with the other things that you guys or your clients are doing? How does it fit into the big marketing package?
Jon: The main thing for us is the inspiration and the ideation. We have a thing at the agency about if you see something cool on the internet, you have to try to understand how it works and you have to understand what works with an audience. And Reddit is perfect for that. It’s not just Reddit, I really like things like YouTube playlists for looking for collections or themes of ideas that might work as a series.
If you go to YouTube and search for playlist and order by view count, you get a very clear list of what’s working based on what’s popular. It’s not always just Reddit, but it’s one of many ways we would go to look to understand content and get a view on what’s working. If you’re seeing content that’s really popular or themes that are popular, you just immediately got a bit of validation from that as well.
So for us that’s how it fits in and that’s one end of the spectrum, and then later down the line when you’re promoting content, obviously when you get the coverage that’s great.
Rich: It sounds like you can drive a lot of traffic using Reddit, but at the same time we can’t just be promoting our stuff all the time. Have you found any ways that you can get organic plus – like you get a little bit of a push on it from Reddit – are there ways of enticing people, perhaps, to publish on Reddit on your behalf? I don’t want to be too cynical about the whole thing, but obviously it’s beneficial to mention seemingly organic on Reddit, so what have you done in the past that might get some Reddit publicity from your clients?
Jon: It’s always indirect for us. Let’s work backwards on this. If you can get a power user – the dream ticket is a power user on Reddit – to see your content, they submit it, it hits the front page and you get a massive amount of traffic, now that’s always come off the back of other activity for us. So we release a piece of content, we get some coverage on Fast Company or Mashable or one of those really big publications. Mashable is a good example because I think a lot of the people that would read Reddit or be actively involved with Reddit would read publications like Mashable. So if you’re getting coverage on Mashable, the chances are that content is good enough and it appeals to people’s interests, then you’ve got a good chance of getting it in front of a fairly powerful user on Reddit. Its then up to them whether they publish it or push it and post it somewhere on Reddit. But that’s the way it’s always worked for us, it’s never been about finding a power user and reaching out to them and asking if they’ll share this piece of content. It’s always been about getting the content in front of them through other means.
Rich: Interesting. Well my next interview today is with somebody about engaging influencers on the internet, so maybe we’ll put these two things back to back and we’ll have a very powerful tool right here.
Jon: I think that’s exactly it. It’s the same as if you were trying to get a tweet from an influencer or some shares or engagement with an influencer group. It’s far best to directly get in front of them, I feel anyway.
Rich: Right. Absolutely, that makes a lot of sense. So just to kind of summarize today, because this is brand new for me, too. I’ve been on Reddit but I can’t say that I’m any sort of expert, I’m barely a user. But if I’m going there as my company for the first time I’m going to go to the homepage and I’m going to set up an account and I’m going to start searching on some of the things that are important to probably my audience first, if I’m doing this from a business standpoint. What do they care about. Subscribe to some of these subReddits that are going to help us get a better understanding of our business and maybe give us some ideas to talk about a well as maybe some different directions for our business as well.
And then maybe, if we’ve done some influencer marketing, we might have the opportunity to get some of our stuff also put up to some of these subReddits which ultimately work their way – if they’re valuable enough – to the home page of Reddit.
Would you say that’s a pretty good summary of how we might use Reddit today?
Jon: Yeah, just get signed up and watch, observe and maybe post some third party content. But sign up and watch I think is the key.
Rich: Alright, just get started. Jon, this has been great today, I really want to thank you for your time. Where can we learn more about you online?
Rich: Alright, well Jon thank you again for your time today.
Jon: Thank you very much, Rich.
- Find out more about Jon by checking out his website, blog and be sure to follow him on Twitter.
- Do you like the kind of information you learn from this podcast each week? Then the Agents Of Change Digital Marketing Conference is for you! You’ll get expert advice and tips from some of the biggest names in search, social and mobile marketing.
- Rich Brooks is the “man with a plan” at flyte new media where he teaches, speaks and helps his clients with their web design and internet marketing needs. Follow him on Twitter, where he spends a good chunk of his day trying to be witty and occasionally dispenses valuable and helpful pearls of wisdom.