Reddit, does your brand get it?

Whether or not you’ve ventured into the world of reddit, you’ve almost certainly heard about it. With an online community of over 174 million people, it’s a powerful culture influencer.

Reddit is a social network and news website where anonymous users, or “redditors,” can subscribe to over 9,600 different communities, or “subreddits.” Are you a total tech junkie? There are about 20 different subreddits that cater to technology enthusiasts. Or maybe you just REALLY like Nicolas Cage? Yes, there’s a subreddit for that too (appropriately titled “One True God”). Subreddits can be cities, industries, interests, religions, hobbies, news and everything in between.

How it works is a redditor submits a text-based post or link, which fellow redditors then vote “up” or “down” to determine the post’s position on the page. The higher a post rises on the page, the more impressions and traffic it receives. Almost any viral content you’ve encountered in the last 10 years dates back to a single post that was significantly up-voted on this “front page of the Internet.” Popular sites like Huffington Post and Buzzfeed are famous for borrowing content, stories and ideas from reddit.

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So, why should you care?

With more than 168,519,576 unique visitors per month from more than 208 countries, the better question is probably “why wouldn’t you care?” Based on sheer numbers alone, it’s obvious that, if executed well, reddit can be an incredibly powerful tool for generating brand publicity.

The catch, however, is that reddit prides itself on having little to no tolerance for commercial content. Post something that screams “promotional marketing” and redditors will down-vote you faster than you can learn what “TIFU” means. Not only will the post get buried in the subreddit but your reddit karma, and credibility, will suffer. (Yes. Redditors, like all of us, build karma, but only on reddit is your karma score displayed next to your username.)

As a brand, the key is to navigate reddit gracefully and strategically. Here are three tips for using reddit to help strengthen your brand.

1. Put yourself out there with an AMA

You’ve got to risk it to get the biscuit.

An Ask Me Anything, or “AMA” in reddit-speak, is an open forum where a person of interest posts a thread titled “I am ___, ask me anything” and the most upvoted questions are answered. It’s uncensored, risky and, when leveraged properly, extremely beneficial. Everyone from President Obama to astronauts currently in orbit have tried their hand at it, and for good reason. A high-profile AMA is one of the most coveted interview opportunities in new media because it shows transparency and vulnerability.  An AMA could be a great chance for your CEO to win over legions of redditors with candid yet positive answers to real questions.

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Image courtesy of Reddit

2. Gather uncensored consumer insight

No matter what market a company operates in, it is certain that at least some of its consumers are on reddit. For example, a company that producers gluten-free cookies can subscribe to a subreddit about baking or living gluten-free to see what its audience is talking about. Because accounts are anonymous, people discuss topics and share opinions with unparalleled candor, giving the company invaluable insight into consumers’ minds. Think of subreddits as a heavily curated glimpse into any lifestyle.

3. Discover trends before they’re trending

Why did the hipster burn his tongue? Because he ate his food before it was cool.

Everyone, brands and hipsters included, wants to stay ahead of trends. Keeping ahead of what’s “in” and what’s “out” means that companies can create relevant, interesting content that will appeal to consumers on a more personal level. While some brands are still trying to make “bae” happen, others are already looking ahead (and on reddit) to see what the next big thing will be. Because reddit encompasses and aggregates just about everything under the sun, it’s a safe bet that the next fashion trend or viral video is already being shared and discussed in a subreddit right now. By tuning in to different subreddits you can observe what people are talking about well before there’s a viral meme for it.

TL;DR: Reddit can be a great tool for gaining brand trust and consumer insight; just be sure to play it cool and follow the rules.

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