The Do’s and Don’ts of Using Reddit to Promote Your Small Business

“The front page of the internet” can provide great insights into what messages resonate with your target audience — if you know how to use it.
consumers on Reddit
Reddit is one of the most popular websites in the world and can reveal a lot about what appeals to your target audience. (Photo: Julia Tim/Shutterstock)

Pop quiz: What is the No. 4 most popular website in the U.S. and No. 8 on the internet as a whole? Reddit.

If you’ve never heard of Reddit, it is a social news platform and discussion forum, self-proclaimed as “the front page of the internet.”

“Reddit is a really big deal now,” said Daniel Russell, director at marketing and SEO agency Go Fish Digital. “Just in January of this year alone (2017), it saw 274 million unique visitors — and a lot of those people are coming back on a regular basis, so it is seeing billions of clicks and visits every year.”

But how can an online discussion board benefit your small business? According to Russell, the best use of Reddit for business owners is for researching what kinds of content appeal to your target audience.

“Reddit is a great place to find ideas for content marketing,” he said. “Small businesses can leverage Reddit as a content-finding tool, and then recreate the content they see to use in their own marketing campaigns to build links and drive traffic.”

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But Reddit is very different beast from other social platforms. Consider this advice from Russell on Reddit best practices for business owners.

Be a ‘redditor’ — not a marketer

“The first step is to become an active user,” began Russell. “Reddit is a peculiar place with a lot of quirks. Becoming an active user is the best way to learn about the Reddit environment so that you can use it for your benefit.”

“Reddit is a peculiar place with a lot of quirks. Becoming an active user is the best way to learn about the Reddit environment so that you can use it for your benefit.” – Daniel Russell

Being an active user on Reddit — or “redditor” — doesn’t mean you have to spend time on the platform every day or become a super-user, he said. But you should use it enough to understand the culture of the Reddit community and what different audiences care about.

For brands, the No. 1 rule to know about Reddit is “No spam.” Posting overly promotional content about your business will likely get a negative response. Instead, use Reddit as a tool for sharing helpful information and identifying the topics and themes most relevant to your target market.

Don’t ignore subreddit rules

Daniel Russell

According to SEO and marketing expert Daniel Russell, Reddit can be a goldmine, but only if you know how to dig. (Photo: Daniel Russell)

Within Reddit are smaller forums called “subreddits” dedicated to particular topics. For example, if you want to read reviews of a TV show or learn more about an upcoming series, you would check out the r/television subreddit.

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“There really is a subreddit for just about everything under the sun, which is incredibly valuable for us as marketers because we’re always trying to gather data and gather evidence for our target market. On Reddit, people are self-segregating — breaking themselves into different interest groups in these different subreddits,” said Russell.

Each subreddit has a specific set of rules that control what type of content is visible, so keep their rules in mind when looking for ideas or posting your own content.

“For example,” he said, “the biggest subreddit around interpreting, visualizing and discussing data is called r/dataisbeautiful. They have a rule where you can only post things about politics on Thursdays. That’s the only day that [users] can post content around that. So if you’re looking for political content [in that subreddit], you won’t find it on most of the other days.”

Master Reddit’s search and filtering functionality

Another key to leveraging Reddit for your small business is learning how to use Reddit’s various search parameters.

“Reddit is a goldmine, but you have to know how to dig,” explained Russell. “The basic search function that Reddit gives you will only take you so far, so becoming familiar with its search parameters will help you find the exact type of content you’re looking for.”

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Reddit posts can be searched by author, website and more. If you’re looking for a popular topic around sports, for example, you can search for the most upvoted posts linked to ESPN.com. Search results can also be limited to a particular subreddit, which can be particularly useful for marketers.

Russell gave this example: “Say I was doing a campaign for a restaurant, and we wanted to do something around chicken. If I just type in ‘chicken,’ I’d probably get results of people calling each other chickens and things like that. If I limit it to just the food subreddit, then I can be sure that I’m looking at the top content that actually has to do with food.”

online forum

When searching Reddit, drill down to specific subreddits that would be relevant to your target audience. (Photo: Rawpixel/Shutterstock)

Don’t assume Reddit data is perfect

Finally, said Russell, don’t assume that Reddit data is perfect.

“Reddit’s demographic does not represent the country’s demographic. Keep this bias in mind when you’re looking for content, so you can make sure what’s popular on Reddit will be popular with your target audience.”

According to a study by the Pew Research Center, the global Reddit community is overwhelmingly white, young males with a college education. But that doesn’t mean data from the site is irrelevant for a different customer demographic.

For instance, said Russell, “If you’re trying to build a campaign around women’s beauty products, there’s a subreddit for that — even though only 33 percent of Reddit’s user base is female. Maybe you don’t want to look at all of Reddit, but you can look at a particular subreddit and that’s still extremely valuable.”

Related: Think You Know Your Customers? Do Some Customer Research to Make Sure

The key to unlocking the wealth of information available in Reddit, he said, is to keep experimenting and exploring the platform “until you start to consistently uncover the content you are after.”

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