Everyone knows Reddit is a content goldmine – but how can you make the most of Reddit as a marketer?
In this guide, we’ll walk you through the basics of Reddit, covering the layout, jargon, and types of users—and give you the actionable advice you need to make the most of this incredibly popular, yet underused social marketing platform.
We’ll also jump right into one of the most successful case studies of marketing on Reddit, walking you through their strategy and dissecting how they succeeded.
Most importantly, we’ll show you how to use Reddit marketing effectively for your business, how to engage with Reddit audiences, and how to aim for the front page.
Let’s dive in.
Table of Contents
- What is Reddit?
- How Reddit Works
- A Reddit Glossary of Terms
- The Basic Language: aka “Reddit Speak”
- How to Market on Reddit
- How to Use Subreddits for Marketing
- Reddit Marketing Case Study: Nissan
- Create Your Own Marketing Success Story on Reddit
What is Reddit?
Chances are, if you’ve spent any time online, you’ve heard of Reddit.
Referring to themselves as “the front page of the internet,” Reddit is a spellbinding mix of news, social annotation, product reviews, interesting links, and general geekery all rolled into one gargantuan platform.
If something hits the front page of Reddit, it usually ends up unfurling way beyond this popular platform, as most viral news sites will source their content from Reddit.
Reddit is also the birthplace of many internet memes—making some of the most ordinary people famous in the process.
In July 2019 alone, 168 billion pages were viewed on Reddit. The platform has over 330 million monthly active users, with 42% of them being between the ages of 18 and 24. It’s the third most popular website in the US.
Reddit is big. Very, very big.
How Reddit Works
When you first come to Reddit, it can be overwhelming.
To the inexperienced, it is a sea of text-based links, upvotes, downvotes, karma, and many comment threads. It seems like a chaotic bulletin board gone wrong.
Until you look deeper into its layout, you cannot truly appreciate its beauty.
In simple terms, Reddit is a democratic message board.
Every post and comment can be voted on, meaning users always dictate which content rises to the top.
This has allowed Reddit to maintain a grassroots culture, despite its enormous size.
Reddit contrasts other social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, where timelines and content are generally controlled by algorithms and user profiling.
A Reddit Glossary of Terms
Here are the major need-to-know Reddit terms:
If you’re a new visitor or not signed into your Reddit account, the front page is made up of the site’s most talked about and popular posts and “subreddits” of the day.
Once you are signed in, your front page will show highlights from the subreddits that you are subscribed to.
Making the front page is the holy grail to Reddit marketers. Hitting the front page means you’re the most talked about piece of content online for that day.
Reddit is made up of a number of subcommunities called “subreddits”.
Subreddits are typically categorized by interests and are designated by an “/r/”, which also translates to the subreddit’s URL.
Subreddits can be either public or private, and cover every possible niche you could imagine.
Spend some time on the platform exploring your subreddit of interest, learning the rules of posting, which posts get the most engagement, and other nuances specific to that community.
Upvoting and Downvoting
Reddit works on a voting system where users can either “upvote” or “downvote” posts and comments with the intention of the community as a whole voting on what makes the best content.
Upvotes work similar to how “liking” works on Facebook, with the exception that each upvote is counted towards an overall score.
Upvoting a post can mean you agree with the comments made, you approve of the sentiment, or simply that you found the post to be funny, cute, or worthy of your time.
Looking to track sentiment across different social platforms? Try Keyhole.
Downvotes work in the opposite direction. You downvote things you disagree with or dislike. It detracts from the overall post or commenter’s score (known as karma).
Votes can be changed or corrected, so if you get downvoted, you still could have an opportunity to change the commenter’s mind!
Karma is Reddit’s scoring system for individual users. Each user has a total post karma and comment karma, which sums up your historic karma totals.
Karma was introduced as a way to fight spam and bot activity on the site, but it has evolved into much more than that.
Now, it’s used as an informal reputation system for Redditors—high post and comment karma mean you have made many well-received posts in the past, so you are considered to have more social clout.
As a marketer, this equates to more freedom on the platform.
If you have low comment karma, you’re much more likely to have your comments and posts removed by moderators if you post directly about your brand.
The Basic Language: aka “Reddit Speak”
Marketers who come in overly eager without “speaking Reddit” will come off just like parents trying to sound cool to their kids.
To be successful on Reddit, you have to sound like a Redditor.
Here’s some of the most common terminology spoken by Redditors:
What does OP mean on Reddit?
OP is short for “original poster,” meaning the first person who started a comment or thread.
Redditors will often reference OP when they are referring to something said in the original post or comment.
Example: “OP had a good point, that is so true!”
What does OC mean on Reddit?
OC, or original content, is king on Reddit.
Reddit is a community that prides itself on original ideas and comments.
It is considered good “reddiquette” to check to make sure what you are posting isn’t already being discussed on another subreddit or post, and that it is not a repost.
What does TLDR mean on Reddit?
TLDR means “too long; didn’t read.”
The point of TLDR is to provide a summary of long text that is posted on Reddit. If TLDR is mentioned in the post, the reader can skip to the TLDR section to get an overview of what the post covers.
TLDR can also be mentioned by a commenter as either a joke (Reddit humor can be quite dry), or used to tell the poster that the comment might not reflect the post because the commenter didn’t read the post in full.
Example: “TLDR: this should answer your question of what is Reddit, and any questions about Reddit Marketing”
What does xpost mean on Reddit?
Xpost, or cross post, marks the same post that has been posted to at least two different subreddits.
Cross posting on Reddit would be similar to posting one post to many different groups on Facebook.
You often seen this same language used on Facebook Marketplace, when a seller posts an item for sale across multiple different buy and sell groups.
Not all subreddits allow cross posting, so be sure to read the rules first!
Example: “Xpost from r/askReddit”
What is a repost on Reddit?
Reposting on Reddit is taking an older post and posting it again to the same subreddit.
It can also mean posting content to Reddit from an outside source like Facebook, Instagram, or another website.
Warning: Reposting is generally frowned upon by Redditors. To make sure you aren’t reposting content or images, check first on Karma Decay.
What is cakeday on Reddit?
Cakeday on Reddit is to be celebrated!
Cakeday is the equivalent of your Reddit birthday, or the day that your account was born.
When you create a post or comment on your cakeday, you will see a small cake icon that appears next to your username. Redditors will celebrate right along with you by with upvotes, “Happy Cakeday” comments, or even gifts like photos or gifs.
What is a troll on Reddit?
Much like the rest of the internet, a troll is someone who hides behind the anonymity of the web, and posts hurtful or hateful things in the comment threads.
What is a lurker on Reddit?
Participation is highly encouraged on Reddit.
A lurker is someone who visits the site, but doesn’t post or participate in the conversations. Posters will often reach out to lurkers asking them to jump in on the conversation.
Other Common Reddit Abbreviations:
- AMA: ask me anything …
- DAE: does anyone else…
- ELI5: explain it like I’m 5…
- FTFY: fixed that for you
- FWP: first world problems
- HIFW: how I feel when…
- IIRC: if I remember correctly…
- IRL: in real life
- ITT: in this thread…
- MRW: my reaction when…
- NSFL: not suitable/safe for life
- SO: significant other
- TIL: today I learned…
How to Market on Reddit
Marketing on Reddit is very different than marketing on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
While it’s one of the most discerning audiences online, it’s also one of the most loyal, and can push content out of obscurity in a matter of hours, spilling over into other social platforms and even into mainstream news.
Here are the best practices for marketing on Reddit:
Start By Being A Member
Redditors are defensive of the community they have built, and despise when companies attempt to take over a subreddit for personal gain.
People come to Reddit for clear-cut reasons—to interact with likeminded people who share hobbies, interests, humor, or even social causes.
If you want to be successful on this platform, you have to respect the culture and community as it is.
Before you go in with your marketing strategy, you need to be a genuine participant.
Redditors do not trust brand-new user accounts that only post with promotions of products or services. Before posting any branded comment, you should spend several months organically commenting and posting as a typical user.
Give More Than You Take
Follow the 80/20 rule: most subreddits request their users to contribute 80% of the time if they’re also going to post their own content.
Self-promotion can fluctuate a little past the 20% mark, but this will be entirely dependent on your content.
If you are self-promoting, but still giving back to the community , you will have more leniency than if you were doing straight promotions.
Post Original Content
Original content is the only way to go on Reddit.
Do not repost from your other social media platforms or website. Write specifically for that audience, make the information valuable—showing that you are a contributing member of the community.
Most importantly: make sure the content is actually good. Don’t post marketing content. Post original, creative, and helpful content that people value.
Posting about your makeup brand? Don’t post a link to your products, make a helpful video tutorial.
Selling sports jerseys? Don’t link to your point of sale, post a comprehensive blog of a team’s jersey history in the team’s subreddit.
Promoting a SaaS tool? Offer Reddit users a free trial in exchange for genuine feedback about the product.
Whatever you do: don’t try to game the system.
Don’t ask your employees to upvote your posts, don’t use a fake account, and don’t use undisclosed paid sponsors.
There are entire subreddits dedicated to sniffing out covert advertising content, so you’re more likely to do yourself harm than good.
The Reddit community has seen it all, and will spot your scheme from a mile away.
Being authentic goes deeper than simply being honest.
Post content that’s in line with your brand voice, engage with content you actually like, and comment like a real person would, not “a brand.”
Know Your Subreddit Culture
While most communities follow similar rules, their cultures can be very different.
A subreddit like r/Sports has a very different mindset from r/Cats. Get to know how the community interacts before targeting any specific user group.
How to Use Subreddits for Marketing
There are two ways you can use Reddit for marketing: targeting subreddits and aiming for front page.
If you are looking to target a niche audience, then using subreddits for marketing is the way to go.
Subredditors are most likely to be your most fervent fans and influencers if you’re able to win them over.
Use social listening to see what people are saying about your business or brand. Try Keyhole.
To target your audience, start exploring the subreddits related to your target niche.
For example, if you are looking to promote a new book, you can start by exploring r/books. This thread offers weekly recommendations, and commenters will post their thoughts on everything from the book jacket to the secondary characters.
You can also create your own subreddit (homepage > “Create Community”). Keep in mind that there are two criteria to create your own: you must have a minimum amount of positive karma, and your account must be at least 30 days old.
Aiming for Front Page
The second way to market on Reddit is to shoot for the moon and hit the front page.
There are also two ways to achieve this: via paid advertising or by experimenting.
Paid advertising can be costly. Large-scale advertisers must spend a minimum of $50,000 per quarter.
Smaller spends amounts vary based on duration, size, placement, and location targeting. Marketers can also choose to run ads on either the Reddit mobile app or directly on the website.
The second method, experimentation, is more organic in nature, but if successful, can yield much better results than it’s paid counterpart.
A large group of Redditors have an uncustomized front page, meaning they don’t follow any specific Subreddits. New users and non-members will also see the most popular subreddit threads with trending posts.
This gives you an enormous audience (including media and journalists) to get in front of.
To get on the front page, you need to put in the work.
Spend time on subreddit, and contribute to your community with comments, original content, and a personality that suits your brand.
Engage with audiences, and keep your account varied. Don’t just post your articles on the same subreddit, reach out to other communities that you can add value to.
Build your karma (reputation) by getting upvotes on your posts and comments. Learn from what you have posted, and make adjustments accordingly. Remember, you are engaging with real users in their honest and raw forms.
Above all else: know what you are trying to achieve.
Set your front page goals well ahead of time, and work towards building a strong brand within the borders of the platform.
Reddit Marketing Case Study: Nissan
The Reddit community is notoriously famous for its open, honest opinion of advertising.
So how does a company successfully use Reddit marketing to launch a product?
Let’s take a look at one of the most celebrated examples: Nissan’s Versa Note campaign.
What Nissan Did
The Japanese automaker was ready to launch their newest car, Versa Note—the very first vehicle available for purchase on Amazon.com.
To build up hype for this momentous event, Nissan’s team decided to do something equally different: try their hand at marketing on Reddit.
Two of Nissan’s community managers asked users what was their favorite thing on Amazon.com.
What did they do?
They promptly started buying those items for those that commented. Nissan ended up buying a long list of items, from a grow-a-boyfriend kit to a Nexus 10 tablet.
Nissan’s post received over 1,500 comments, creating over 5,000 conversations about the company and the Versa Note, across Reddit and beyond.
Major news outlets picked up the story, and even a few celebrities shared their thoughts on the campaign.
For more extravagant requests (like gold-plated toilet paper and an $800,000 oil painting), they thanked commenters with 30 days of Reddit Gold (Reddit’s premium membership).
Did it work?
While there were a few tense moments, the Reddit community’s response was astonishingly positive.
Reddit’s Director of Communications confirmed this campaign’s success, saying it was one of the best campaigns the platform had seen in a very long time. Nissan met its goals in a short period of time, and Versa Note views soared on Amazon.
Why did it work?
Nissan’s community managers took the time to learn the language, culture, and the rules of the platform.
One commenter struck out at the company and accused them of trying to buy love. The clever Community Manager quickly responded:
“If only that was possible. You can’t buy love, even on Amazon 🙁 But if love was an object, hypothetically found on Amazon, what would it be?”
This campaign was also hugely successful because Nissan was monitoring their social mentions.
This all started because Nissan was monitoring their brand online. A Redditor posted an image of an extremely large box perched on top of a flatbed truck, titling the post “What’s the largest item you can have shipped from Amazon? Because I think my neighbor just got it.”
The post catapulted to the front page of Reddit, with over 4,000 comments. As curiosity grew, Redditors continually posted their guesses.
Eventually, some Redditors sleuthed out the answer, referencing a contest that Nissan ran a few months ago.
Once Nissan caught this mention through social media monitoring, they quickly promoted a thank-you post on the subreddit r/promo, thanking Redditors for making the Amazon Box such a huge story.
They created an illustration that used some of the ideas that came from the thread, and gave out Reddit gold to positive commenters.
Ultimately, Nissan’s Reddit marketing experience is a prime example of how to engage the community, and how social media monitoring can pay off huge for companies.
Create Your Own Marketing Success Story on Reddit
Whichever method you choose, make yourself known to the communities within Reddit. Watch for social mentions and trending topics that are relevant to your brand.
Our advice is to start using the platform for a couple months to get into the swing of the culture, the language, and get to know the people.
As you get more entrenched into the communities, you will see where you brand can make the biggest splash, and be well on your way to launching your own successful Reddit marketing campaign.