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There is no doubt that the social news site, Reddit, is growing exponentially and has the ability perpetuate an influential, engaged culture.
By the end of 2012, Reddit reached nearly 50 million unique visitors and 4 billion pageviews. And now, it’s seeking private funding with valuation of $400 million. What’s interesting is that the site has experienced this sort of growth with a small staff and without a large emphasis on advertising or subscriptions (Reddit Gold)—although there are indications that they will be focusing more on these revenue sources in the future.
What’s Different About Reddit?
Like other social sites, Reddit is a powerful example of audience engagement, with site users providing the content, but it works a little differently. Essentially, it’s a bulletin board organized into areas of interest called reddits (or subreddits) that include science, politics, gaming and religious affiliations, among others.
Registered users or redditors interact on the site by posting links and by voting to determine how other redditors’ content is valued. These votes, in concert with the age of the post, determine how prominently the content appears on the site. When a post earns an “up” vote, it gleans karma points that essentially raise its profile. A “down” vote indicates that readers think it is less worthy than other content to receive more attention, not that they necessarily dislike it.
Redditors can also comment on posts and vote on other comments, organize their own page, and make friends to follow their content postings more easily.
Some redditors use the site for personal bookmarking, while others use it as a news aggregator, but any visible redditor uses it as a highly interactive tool with which to engage in their community of interest. And it’s the impact of these communities that gain attention for Reddit.
What Calls Attention to the Reddit Community?
1) Several of the subreddits gained a reputation for successfully raising money for various causes or notably rallying around a cause—which fellow redditors brought to their attention. Whether raising money to support a religious cause, creating a Stephen Colbert rally or sending gifts to the sick family member of a fellow redditor, these communities seem to do it with gusto—which is no surprise, given the culture embraced by the *typical Reddit user.
2) A strong culture with few rules and a commitment to free speech has created a few very controversial, offensive subreddits that gave the site some negative attention.
3) A popular section of the site, IAMA (Ask Me Anything), creates a friendly forum for people to interact with public figures around a specific topic of discussion. An IAMA with President Obama in August of 2012 brought a nearly crushing (several components of the site went down) volume of traffic and raised Reddit’s profile to the general public.
Is Reddit for Publishers?
That depends, really.
First, apply the rule of context awareness and consider your audience. Are redditors the people you want to reach?
If you’re looking to interact and attract a liberal, educated, young (25-34), tech savvy, mostly male audience, Reddit might be worth a try. And don’t dismiss the women who are on Reddit; they may be few, but they have a strong presence as most redditors do: redditors have been called a “tough crowd” not just for their strong opinions but also for their ability to mobilize and their clear disdain for any form of spam—which we will discuss more in depth, shortly.
Second, consider the subreddits. Are there topics that relate to your area of expertise? Do these topics translate to some of the more vibrant communities on Reddit? OR, do you have a subreddit you’d like to create that will likely gain the interest of redditors, based on their current activities?
Third, are you committed to engaging in this community regularly and with relevancy?
What Redditors Like:
In general, content with a strong personal story and the straight facts wins on Reddit. Creativity, humor, novelty, powerful images, things they can draw their own conclusions from and those that are less instructional while more thought provoking all gain points.
- Sites and stories that provide unique or unusual, educational insight (a favorite topic is TIL (today I learned))
- Photography, art, pop art
What Redditors (and Moderators) Don’t Like:
Multiple posts of your own content. The dislike for this is so strong (even when the content is good), that numerous redditors have been accused of spamming and banned for posting what they believe is only a small percentage of their own content.
Tips for Using Reddit
Start with a SaaS CMS that supports social sharing—so it is easy to link your site to Reddit. At the very least, you can include Reddit in your sharing options and monitor how much of your content is shared by redditors to begin with. That might help inform your larger choice of actually engaging in the site.
If you do decide to engage on Reddit, keep a few things in mind:
- Spend some time just observing when you first join. It’s especially important to get to know this culture and its inside jokes.
- Post a range of content and limit links to your own. Think in terms of building or engaging in a community around your area of expertise and building awareness of your business that way, not by driving people to your site.
- Identify your niche on Reddit and submit posts to relevant subreddits; your opportunities for exposure are better there.
- Use your own stellar headline writing ability and strong images to catch attention. It’s like tweeting on steroids—but you have more characters to work with.
- Experiment with the timing of your posts to see when you have better results.
- Don a thick skin. Redditors tend not to mince words, and this is not a place for taking things personally—but do remember to feed the positive and IGNORE the negative.
Benefits of Using Reddit
- It can be a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of the culture you are trying to reach—and perhaps even provide fodder for stories and content of your own.
- Joining a subreddit around your area of expertise gives you a chance to share yours, particularly through commenting and IAMA.
- Some subreddits are centered around a particular product. Customer service opportunities, anyone?
- If you create a unique, engaging subreddit around a particular idea that relates to your field, you are creating another sub-community to interact with and expanding your reach.
- You can share news and calendars around a particular topic—and demonstrate that you are in the know . . .
- Advertising. One advantage of advertising on Reddit is that you can target your audience for less. Reddit currently offers advertising for less than other social sites.
Regardless of whether or not you ultimately add Reddit to your strategy, it’s one to watch.