How to do marketing on Reddit
Updated on December 3, 2021
Those who are familiar with Reddit or tried it for marketing purposes may say it's a trap. A Redditor may say that you should leave the platform if you're a marketer. The site is for valuable content, not spam. Reddit has its rules, which make it more difficult to employ the usual for some marketing techniques. A person shouldn't think of the website as a never-ending board with various groups where one can submit any links and duplicate promotional content. It won't work, and the person will be banned quickly.
If you want to jump straight to the actionable advice, here's the section.
Recall the other platforms you've tried to promote something. Some Facebook groups where every publication is complete spam. Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube where you should have an audience to reach with your promotional content. Discord communities where you post links to relevant places, but no one seems to care, because they also promoting there. It's different on Reddit. You're not required to have followers that see your content(the website has this feature though), but you have a large group of people that see it and appreciate it (if this is the case, they may not). Thus, more people will discover the content.
What's important here is valuable content. Redditors like funny videos, memes, but they also admire entrepreneur stories, case studies, statistics, and other formats and types of information. So it's correct that marketers find it hard to market on Reddit, it is because many people miss the point. The goal is not to just reach a bigger audience, but to bring value. Imagine you're subscribed to a subreddit where business owners share their success and failure stories, learned lessons. It's exciting to read because you learn something too. But regularly you see the posts from the entrepreneurs who promote their services, which aren't relevant to the subreddit's topic: some promote dog food, some give you discounts to buy fish cans, others ask you to upvote their post on Instagram. You'll find such posts irrelevant because you want to learn something, and instead, you see other people shamelessly promoting their stuff, not providing any value. It'll become a Facebook group or any other platform. This is why people love Reddit: watch videos about cats, read cool case studies, and not have absolute spam content.
So, if you think that Reddit marketing is about sharing your ad texts and links, it is not. If you're ready to provide helpful insights and assist people, then it may be a good platform for you. How to do so I'll cover a few paragraphs later.
I wrote about the reasons in Why Reddit is a good place for research. To sum up: Reddit is so big you can't ignore it anymore. Some statistics:
Marketing is not only about promoting your services. It's also research. Reddit is an amazing place for it. Why? The platform has a ton of data: every second someone talks about either cats or asks how to grow their business. People discuss various things, from their home furniture to software solutions best suited for their business. They share opinions and want to know others'. They ask for recommendations. It's a lot of data to study.
Imagine you want to create a new product to help YouTubers. For example, a solution that collects better statistics of their audience. You're searching for similar solutions on Google, there are some, but you don't understand what exact problems they solve, their features aren't clear, and their target audience isn't just YouTubers, it seems. You may go to Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, and DM YouTubers to ask about their pains with the statistics. But also, you may search for similar solutions, YouTubers subreddits, similar requests on Reddit. You find subreddits for YouTubers and see their common questions and struggles. You notice some of them talked about such a tool a few years ago, and one of them even paid to create a custom solution because the existing ones were bad in some way. The difference in research here is that you have access to the stories, their case studies, real discussions in the niche you're interested in. A researcher is not only getting conversations where people discuss their pains, but also a story of how other people tried to solve the very problem before.
You may pick relevant subreddits where your audience is hanging out and monitor their posts. You'll notice some patterns. Many questions may seem similar. That's where research and active marketing come together. You engage in the discussions, provide value, and then maybe point out your business. Except not just as a direct promotion, but as lessons learned, relevant articles, and so on.
Again, Redditors want to see valuable content. This is why they subscribed to a specific subreddit: to see the relevant content. People see less noise and more things they want to upvote and engage with.
You may subtly promote your brand or business with the content there. The issue is to understand what type of content people will like, so you won't get banned or downvoted. The article you post on /r/smallbusiness won't necessarily get traction on other subreddits. Yet you may figure out how to recycle it to be useful in other communities.
Step 1. Define where your target audience hangs out. Type some keywords your audience may mention in the posts on the Olwi search input and you'll get posts or comments in a specific set of subreddits. Also, pay attention to the most frequent subreddits that appear - take a look at them.
Step 2. Go to these subreddits and see their top and new posts. Those are the types of posts the community finds the most valuable. Also, pay attention to the new posts: what things do people discuss and engage the most?
For example, you found a few top posts that are telling the story of how did some businesses grow their user base, some others wrote about how did they measure important metrics on a website and how did they affect revenue. Many new posts' authors ask some similar questions: how to grow their user base, get traction, or what website metrics to measure for future decisions. There's a pattern, ain't it? Even if there are no clear patterns between the top and new posts, the top posts tell you what kind of information the subreddit prefers the most.
You may also take a look at SEO opportunities: the phrases used the most in a particular subreddit. This tool helps you to define the monthly search volume for the frequent keywords used in a subreddit. Take top keywords, search for them in Olwi, and it will suggest similar keywords people also use.
Step 3. Share valuable insights. Now you know what kind of posts the subreddit people like. You can write something somewhat similar, but with your insights on the topic. A case study. A website statistics. A few valuable insights on how to better do X(notice the pattern of the new posts - what common questions are asked there?).
It doesn't mean though to share how did you grow your business and offering your services. You may do it if it's highly relevant. But in this case, many may ask you what business do you do, so you can share in the comments. Anyway, read the rules first: Reddiquette and the specific rules for every subreddit you want to participate in. Some are very strict about self-promotion even if you bring value. A general rule is: engage in discussions, share opinions, share your lessons, not just directly promote your services.
If you find someone who asks about X, you may share your thoughts on it and maybe share relevant links to articles where one of them directs to your blog. Yes, self-promotion, but highly relevant, and you also shared other materials.
There's something more than publishing content. Many people discuss stuff, share opinions, ask questions. You can also give your value to those people in the comments. Someone asks a question and you have something to share or say? Say it. Sometimes there are posts where the main focus is on a few(or one) comments that give the most value in terms of the asked question. Many people may be interested in the post too, they struggle with the same situation and want to figure out the answer quickly! And they find your comment where you bring so much value they say "thank you". Maybe they will visit your Reddit profile and see the other posts or comments you've created. Why care? Your profile is public. It's simple to see what are you up to. Do you only post? Not good. Do you only copy the same comment to promote your services? Be prepared to get banned.
Engage in the discussions, not just publish content.
The most direct approach is to follow the subreddits you're interested in and check their new posts. Then, pick some of them where you can share your expertise and share it! The issue with such a plan is that it may be difficult to check all of the subreddits manually. You may use the Olwi tracking feature: you'll get notified when someone mentions the keywords you typed. In posts or comments. Then the plan is the same - go there and engage.
The approach I mentioned above is a kind of social listening. Yet I guess not many people apply it to Reddit. Or, they don't apply it in all of the possible ways.
It's useful to track posts and comments because you can be the first who answers, thus, you'll get more views or you're the first to decide what to do with the information provided in the post.
It's also useful when monitoring brand health. You may type your website or brand name and see what people talk about it. However, you may want to react as quickly as possible to new comments or posts about you. For example, when someone provides feedback and mentions your product. You'll be among the first people who read it and most importantly, react accordingly(ask questions to this user to understand the details, see how many people have similar thoughts, fix bugs, etc.).
You may track what people say about them. Or, see among the first their posts or comments about new features, changes in the business, and react accordingly, if applicable. My guess is people underestimate this action especially for Reddit: some believe businesses don't utilize the platform. Well, some businesses don't use it. And they miss a lot. Others use it successfully: there are even large subreddits for big(and not) brands driven either by a community(!) or a business itself.
The easiest way to monitor what you need is by using the Olwi tracking feature: type what you want to track and it's done. But how the query should look like? The most direct approach is to type your brand name in the search query field, press "Search" and see the frequency of the publications. If it's frequent enough for you, then check "Track this search query" at the bottom of the search box. The same with the competitors. If you want to monitor some specific aspects of people's speeches, for example, bug reports, you may type your brand name, and in the "title" or "description" field write some keywords that people may mention while talking about bugs. E.g. "bug", "freezes", "slow", "glitch", "crash". For feature requests and ideas, you may use some of the following: "like to", "would like", "would love".
If you want to monitor the new content that you're interested in, make sure you use the most suitable words or phrases in the search query. For example, you want to track new posts from accountants. Type some phrases they may use, like "financial report", to see the subreddits' suggestions along with the other similar most frequently used phrases related to this search. We can see that this phrase use the most in stocks and investing subreddits, so let's change it to "as an accountant". We see the most frequent subreddit is /r/Accounting (so you may narrow your search to this or a few other similar subreddits to avoid noise). And you may also notice the similar keywords you may look for as well, like "would like to", "spend a lot". Try various keywords and see what you can find. Once you find one or multiple searches you want to monitor, hit the "Track this search query" checkbox.
Reddit is a great platform and many say it's not a place for marketing. They're right, it's not a place for usual spamming and self-promotion. Yet one may use more subtle techniques, which is giving more value and sometimes mentioning the products the person markets as a part of the value. You may help others to find your products who want to find them, not spamming to everyone. A great thing about Reddit is that it has more than 130,000 various active communities, and everyone can find something for them. Accounting software, recruiting in banking, flight attendants problems, cat lovers blogs, and many many other communities. Thus, it allows a person to narrow its search and discuss something with like-minded people, avoiding targetting to everyone.
Marketing isn't about spamming links, it's finding a niche community that is willing to use the product, which solves their problems. It's also about research. While you may do it using Google, to find the communities in forums, Discord servers, and on other websites, this search may be exhausting. On Reddit, there are many communities you discover in seconds, not spending too much time visiting 10 pages of some old forum to figure out it isn't worth it.
Reddit produces a ton of content in a second, so it's important to monitor what's relevant to you or your business. Be among the first who read a post, comment, and react to it by brainstorming new features, making new research, or improving the existing approaches.
Read the rules and don't forget that this is a community. Don't spam. Engage with people and bring value. Remember how you were looking for something and a stranger pointed out the right way: either a descriptive approach to finding leads, a good book, or a few links to products you now can't live without. Help people with your unique experience, tell them your insights and learned lessons.
All of the advanced searches and monitoring is available in Olwi.