Why Your Brand Shouldn’t Use Reddit

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The Reddit audience is unique, powerful, and vocally passionate. It has its own culture, language, and nuances within each of its micro-communities. It’s shown its immense power to move markets and make congress take notice, to change lives, and to help people find some quick, helpful advice

Reddit is often a sacred space. People open up, share what drives them, what they’re embarrassed about, their dark secrets, the things they love, where they’ve been wronged, and information they may not even share with those closest to them. Because of that the community protects its own.

As the 18th-most-visited website in the world and 7th most-visited website in the US, 23% of Reddit’s audience isn’t on Facebook, 47% aren’t on Instagram, 52% aren’t on Twitter, 65% aren’t on Snapchat, and 69% aren’t on Tik Tok. 58% or Reddit’s users are in the coveted 18-34 age demographic, they spend an average of 34 minutes in the app daily, there’s over 52 million active users, and one of the most used platforms for people looking for reviews. Take a look at Google’s suggestions when searching for a product or brand and you’ll most likely see “Reddit” in the suggested searches.

It sounds like a marketer’s dream. But there are plenty of case studies of brands trying to participate or advertise on Reddit and getting it wrong. You may be asking, “how can I successfully use Reddit for my brand?” You shouldn’t. Instead, ask yourself a different question – “what can we contribute to Reddit?” Reddit is built on give before take. Trying to extract something from the community before you’ve made a contribution is one way to increase the likelihood that you’re going to find your brand somewhere it doesn’t want to be. 

So, should you just take the safe route and not have your brand participate or advertise on Reddit? Not necessarily. But you need to set your brand up for success. First, be completely honest with yourself about your brand. What are the weak points and how are you addressing them? Are there any issues with the industry you’re in? Negative incidents in the brand’s history? Try and poke as many holes in your brand as possible. 

Once you’ve taken stock of any weaknesses, then see where you can add value to any of the communities that may be relevant to your brand. This doesn’t mean comment on someone’s post who’s looking for a recommendation about the category you’re in. Instead, think of the areas where your unique position and knowledge may help someone out. Maybe it isn’t obvious, but start with observing. Being on Reddit isn’t about exploiting it when you need it, but a long term commitment. For example, maybe you’re an alcohol brand. Look for the sub-Reddits that surround the industry. Maybe it’s micro-distillers or those wanting to get in the business. Find ways you can help. Maybe offer up one of your master distillers for a conversation with someone who has questions. Or get some quotes from your recruiters about what makes candidates capture their attention. Just add value to the conversations where you can and don’t expect anything in return. 

Reddit has tried to make its platform friendlier for advertisers over the years. It’s expanded targeting and tracking capabilities, is reaching out to brands and agencies, while having it’s sights set on $1 billion in ad revenue.  You can play it extra cautious and disable any commenting on your ads. You can even check out Reddit’s community on advertising (very meta) to see the successes and challenges of those currently using their ad platform. But the best approach for any brand is to stop thinking about being a marketer or advertiser, and start thinking about being a community member. Then, maybe you’ll find why you may be deserving of Redditor’s support.  

Remember, if you’re thinking “how can we use Reddit?”, reframe the question. Words matter and even if your intention isn’t to exploit the platform, by reframing the question you’ll start to ask yourself the right questions.

Summed up best by Lauren Osini in an article on ReadWrite, “Redditors don’t want to advertise for you, they want to talk to you. If you can’t work with moderators, be authentic, and make time, it doesn’t matter how important you are.”