reddit has earned a high-profile reputation for viral content; even President Obama answered questions on the Ask Me Anything subreddit the day before his State of the Union Address last year. At first look reddit can be off-putting to the uninitiated. It does not have the slick, user-friendly layout of Twitter or Facebook, and it’s reminiscent of the old pre-social media message boards.
reddit and Twitter
When Louis CK self-released his Live at the Beacon Theater comedy album and posted it on Twitter, two hundred thousand of his over three million followers downloaded it for five dollars each and made him a million dollars immediately, proving the value of Twitter. On the other hand rock journalist Chuck Klosterman told the Trip City podcast that Twitter does not work, because when he tweeted about his new book, I Wear the Black Hat, his sales actually went down. He said he feels the ever-vigilant young techies on Twitter saw through his tweet as a “commercial.” About figuring out what works in general creatively and what doesn’t, Klosterman says he has learned that “there is no metric and trying [to figure it out] makes it worse.” Perhaps with Twitter Louis CK was just better at appearing like he was not trying.
Twitter tends to be an excellent resource for a personality or institution that already has a place in popular culture. It’s also a tool for reaching fans immediately with information about events. Trying too hard, as Klosterman puts it in his example, seems to leave followers a bit weary. The reason may be that there is a blurring of the lines between friendship and business on social networks, and despite what telemarketers may be taught, most people do not want their friends acting like salesmen, or vice versa.
So how does one gain popularity on Twitter without already being popular? Vetted content. Those who do not market on Twitter are obsessed by finding something undiscovered and evaluating it. They are young, tech savvy, but not yet financially successful. They go to reddit for raw content. reddit worked for me when promoting posts on different platforms, to which I still get clicks, and in the case of a music gear post I did, I still get referrals seven months after posting it from people interested in equipment. Warning: Even on a relatively successful post like the one I just mentioned, not all comments will be pretty.
One answer to the question “Why does reddit work?” may be that it works because it is not a social network. redditors go there to vet content, not to make friends.
How to be successful on reddit:
Up-votes (akin to Facebook likes) make you visible. Comments seem to be mostly irrelevant. Of course, overwhelmingly negative reception can have a detrimental effect, and a completely positive reception can theoretically create an instant hit, but this is rare.
Find the subreddit most relevant to your content. A subreddit is what the pages on reddit are called. You will see a menu on the homepage with the most popular ones, but there are thousands. Think of any topic and write it in the url after www.reddit.com/r/. If no one started that page, you can. Keep paraphrasing the topic, as in www.reddit.com/r/marketing or www.reddit.com/r/publicrelations until you find one that serves your purpose. The more popular a subreddit is, the more up-votes you will need to get higher in the queue of posts, and perhaps get in the “rising,” ”controversial” or even “hot” categories. The more specific the subreddit, the less popular it is likely to be, but you will need fewer up-votes to be seen.
It’s a balancing act. For a list of the 5,000 most popular subreddits, go to http://www.redditlist.com. Interesting note: When I promoted a brainwave therapy MP3 download that I produced for one of my clients, the post received no up-votes or comments, yet the posting resulted in sales. This is not the norm, but it does happen.
Post when few people are on. Then very few up-votes will go a long way. Once you’ve done that you can post on the larger, less specific subreddits before everyone gets on at 7pm EST, but your post may get trampled by an avalanche of content when traffic spikes.
The most important thing is that the title gives redditors an accurate idea of the content at the other end of the link. The title of a successful reddit post has to act like a skilled tour guide—it has to point at things and know their names. It’s not the same as creating an SEO-friendly headline, it’s about being clear what the content is.
Data scientist Randal Olson has posted an in-depth statistical analysis of reddit on Business Insider Australia, which includes a word cloud of the most popular words in reddit titles. Cross post (x-post) is the most popular one, and it means that you’re posting something that has already been posted. It is important to let redditors know that you’re doing this, or they will down-vote you.
Once you become familiar with the workings of reddit, it can be a great place to help drive traffic to your content and reach an audience you can’t reach through traditional social media. How does reddit fit into your content marketing strategy? What results have you seen from interacting with reddit users?