Posts Tagged ‘Sebouh Gemdjian’

How to reddit: Marketing Through the Anti-Social Feeding Tube of Social Networks

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

rHow to reddit Marketing Through the Anti-Social Feeding Tube of Social Networks Sebough Gemdjian BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas eddit 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 If no one started that page, you can. Keep paraphrasing the topic, as in or 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 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?

Are Viral Loops the Building Blocks of the Future Marketplace?

Friday, November 15th, 2013
flickr user Gavin Llewellyn

flickr user Gavin Llewellyn

Andrew Chen defines a viral loop as simply “the steps a user goes through between entering the site and inviting the next set of users.” Former entrepreneur-in-residence at Mohr-Davidow Ventures, now freelance adviser of startups and expert on the vanguard of marketing, Chen dedicates the rest of his collection of essays, “The Viral Startup: A Guide to Designing Viral Loops,” to demonstrating how every product can be seen as a site with a viral loop built in. A viral loop is most definitely not “a mythical vortex that propels products with a magic bang into public consciousness and millions of YouTube hits,” which is what I thought it was before reading his book.

A viral loop is what brought us the viral video phenomenon “The Fox” this fall.

This is a common viral loop scenario: people react to a link they find online and share it on a social network like over and over again, and next thing you know American teens are in love with a South Korean rapper and something called “Gangnam Style.” A viral loop is a business model that emphasizes an exponentially growing feedback-and-recommendation chain of users.

Here is an example of a company that seemed to be doing just fine without a viral loop business model: Years ago I worked for a New York double-decker bus company that the tourism industry anticipated would be a refreshing, disruptive newcomer. As a family business with a history of ventures, however, they opted for the “tried and true” approach of beginning with a Minimum Viability Product—they figured out the minimum product necessary to qualify for the market, just to feel things out.

They bought old buses and fitted them with only a top deck – there was no interior for passengers who preferred to ride from inside. Because of the constant influx of tourists in New York, profits were high despite the fact that the business was in a preliminary stage, and customer dissatisfaction was frequent, especially concerning customer service. The company had not made social media a priority either. All the elements of a viral loop were missing, yet the company prospered. We’ll catch up with their journey a little later.

Chen explains that the key mistake marketing departments make is that they attempt to “bolt” a viral loop onto a product, not realizing that in order for a viral loop to work, it has to be built into the product itself. It is not about an ad going viral, it is about letting the consumer feel like they are playing a very real role in the culture of this Happy Meal, or cell phone, or song. The implication here is that only experiences go viral.

One of Chen’s essays in the book is about the role Steve Jobs played in the marketing of Apple products by making sure each of them was constructed as a viral loop from the start.

A way to build a viral loop into a product is to ensure that the consumer can share an experience; that experience would be balanced between marketing, functionality, and design at every point of the product’s evolution, as Apple did with the iPhone. Even the first iPhone had high functionality and sleek design, while encouraging users to share experiences through the device itself. In a department-driven company, there is competition between these aspects, and the focus on marketing very often wins out. Steve Jobs edited the output of each department and blend it all into a whole.

Awareness of products as facilitators for viral loops separates the waning business culture of yesterday from the adaptable, sustainable entrepreneurships of the future.

Let’s return to the tour-bus company. Because of low overhead, during the recession the company was able to actually take a significant amount of their competitors’ market share. As a result, they stagnated in the Minimum Viability Product model. Its purpose was no longer to explore the market, but to turn in profit quickly. They acquired their main competitor and applied the same model to them. However, small modern tour van startups that already have their own tour-guide apps, have a sustainable loop of followers, and who will soon be able to afford state-of-the-art double-deckers have been growing in the shadows of the skyscrapers.

The colossal tour bus company does have one very important asset, which if exploited can integrate a viral loop into their business model and help them blow any tech-centered, GPS-activated tour guide app-wielding startups out of the water. They have walking, talking viral loops in their live tour guides. A happy employee is a perfect balance of marketing, engineering and design.

Can the future be the Minimum Desirability Model—defined by Chen as “the simplest experience necessary to prove out a high-value, satisfying product experience for users, independent of business viability?”

The difference between minimum effort for maximum profit and simplicity is subtle, but it makes all the difference in who will survive the exponentially accelerating technological shifts of the modern marketplace. Perhaps a viral loop is one way of looking at true simplicity.