Should brands embrace Reddit as they diversify their digital outreach?

Communicators should use Reddit carefully, only in cases where their messaging won't get lost on the network or offend the site's users.

Should brands embrace Reddit as they diversify their digital outreach?


Chad Latz, Worldwide president of the digital innovation group, Cohn & Wolfe
Leads development of C&W's digital and social media practice

Should marketers use a platform that receives about 62.3 million visitors a month, with outstanding engagement that fuels viral buzz and social sharing? Of course. Reddit gets 4.4 billion page views per month, 17 million votes are cast daily, and 88% of visitors return multiple times per day.

With this kind of content consumption and engagement, there is little doubt why Reddit has often been labelled the "front page of the Internet." And if you get voted to the top, chances are your content will end up everywhere.

As a platform, Reddit offers the speed of Twitter, the focus of Facebook Groups, and the conversation capabilities of Disqus. Additionally, it provides paid ad units with basic analytics to track performance.

A relevant question is how can marketers most effectively use Reddit? Marketers and communicators may be tempted by opportunities to cheat the system to drive branded content to the top of ratings. The most conspicuous comparison might be past examples of how firms were caught paying, or charging for, posts on similar platforms, such as Digg or StumbleUpon, to artificially drive rankings and views.

But Redditors are a savvy bunch. They cruise the Web all day for the best content to share, rejecting anything overtly promotional in nature. Attempted trickery may bury your content forever. Reddit's community integrity excels at keeping people and brands honest.

Reddit is best used for distributing social content into specific communities. Opportunities for brands could include a discussion using the Ask Me Anything feature with a celebrity spokesperson. They will reinforce key messages and the opportunity to engage with a celeb will attract an audience. Redditors are also driven to act and mobilize for a greater purpose, as in Stephen Colbert's Rally to Restore Sanity, which raised over $500,000 for charity.

Tapping into the Reddit community can be a major win for brands. To be successful, articles must reflect the current state of Internet culture, and be relevant. After all, Reddit is all about content strategy.


Jordan Middendorf, Senior digital strategist, M Booth
Works on digital media strategy, media planning, social events, and blogger programs

No matter how hard they try, brands can't be all things to all people. In spite of this, it's not unusual for brands to look at every social platform as an opportunity for dissemination when seeding content, whether for a new campaign or product.

Posting to Reddit is a great litmus test for a piece of content's virality, as it's either upvoted within a subwiki, to the front page, or repelled into an Internet abyss.

While they can bubble up in favor of some, the community is maniacal in ferreting out inauthentic or false presences, and herein lies the caveat for brands. There's little respect for commercial content. Transparency is key. It's like editing your own Wikipedia page - you are not going to outsmart the editors.

Employees should avoid posting on a brand's behalf without full disclosure of the relationship. More success may be found if the content can be seeded by a conduit, such as an involved partner or influencer - but again, disclosure is critical.

That said, there is an opportunity for a brand on Reddit to be the fly on the wall. Rather than advertising to users, who are keen on discovering content themselves, a brand can find Reddit useful in listening to online conversations.

Leveraging Reddit as a servicing presence or a forum for customer sharing, or using it to host an Ask Me Anything session may yield more positive results. But, ultimately, Reddit is an earned channel, and can never be owned like Facebook or Twitter.

Why should a brand taint the conversation by announcing themselves? Any brand looking to expand its presence on a new platform should consider whether its users even live there, and if they do, how users interact and engage within that network. A kitchenware company may find a wealth of their target audience on Pinterest sharing images and recipes, but far fewer opportunities on less visually based sites.

Reddit is a platform created for the user - devoid of featured brand pages - and based on the insistence of verifiable and non-editorialized content. It's not a place for actively extolling brand messaging. 

PRWeek's View
Communicators should use Reddit carefully, only in cases where their messaging won't get lost on the network or offend the site's users. Reddit shouldn't be underestimated as a tool for gauging consumer interest or sentiment.

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