The goal of this month’s column is multipurpose, as I hope to:
- provide examples of how a variety of businesses and people successfully marketed on Reddit
- explain and highlight exactly what made their marketing campaigns successful
- stress key takeaways as a model for success
- spark ideas on your end
If you have any questions about these examples, such as further information or just general question about marketing on Reddit, please feel free to leave a comment and I’ll be sure to help you out :)
Let’s get started!
Matt Silber, Thomas Murray, and Christian Marin make up the App Dev & Design Company, Guardanis LLC.
They used Reddit’s sponsored and targeted link platform to reach a very specific demographic for their new app, Lucid Dreamer, which helps people achieve lucidity. They targeted the niche subreddit, /r/luciddreaming:
Just for your reference, here are the average statistics for the Lucid Dreaming subreddit:
This is a prime subreddit for their app, as every member has expressed a direct interest in lucidity by subscribing. The sponsored link comments demonstrated this – while only a handful, they were all meaningful and directly related to the business.
I reached out to Guardanis Co-founder and Developer, Matt Sibler, to ask about this particular experience.
Q: What was the most beneficial part of your sponsored link on Reddit?
Of the two advertisement campaigns I’ve run through Reddit, the most beneficial aspect would definitely be the subreddit targeting feature. Even though my exposure levels in a smaller-niche subreddit (ie. Lucid Dreaming) were much lower than in a broader category (ie. Android), the quality of users from that campaign was undoubtedly higher as those users were already interested in the niche.
Q: What do you think is most valuable about Reddit in regards to promoting a business/product/service?
Definitely their targeting. Services like Facebook do an OK job of targeting their users based on likes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean those users are actively ‘interested’ in that particular topic (even half of my own social likes are just me supporting other groups, and in no way reflect my own interests). But, subreddits do. Just based on normal psychology, a person will generally not be in a particular subreddit if they don’t possess at least -some- interest in that topic (unless they’re exploring new topics, searching, etc. which all still generally points to possible interest in said category).
One of the most important takeaways from Matt’s experience is the notion and impact of niche targeting.
- A smaller subreddit equates to a smaller but higher quality audience with a ‘guaranteed’ interest in your product.
- A broader subreddit equates to a larger but generalized audience with a ‘possible’ interest in your product.
Matt also suggests for businesses considering a marketing campaign on Reddit to determine the trade-off between exposure and quality by identifying your most niche subreddits and broader categorical subreddits.
The documentary TV-series VICE launched their first season back in April. A couple months ago, the show came up with a great marketing idea. They put four episodes on YouTube which is awesome for many reasons:
- the episodes are free (normally we’d have to pay via HBO subscription)
- this gives people a taste and if they want more they’ll inevitably grab a subscription
- this improves brand recognition, disposition, and increases exposure and trust
As a form of promoting their YouTube launch, they tapped into Reddit and created the following sponsored link:
This received a positive vibe from the Reddit community and dozens of comments expressing gratitude. Some even went as far to tell VICE they should’ve just posted it normally!
What’s more, VICE demonstrates their understanding of Reddit with their response, accelerating their receptiveness and image on Reddit.
Model for success:
- offer something free (similar to Gary V’s Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook approach)
- get involved in the discussion and demonstrate social norms
The co-founder of Reddit (/u/kn0thing) begins his sponsored link by saying, “I may or may not be doing this without my publisher’s permission.” Known for his knack for creativity, humor, and wit, Alexis Ohanian demonstrates how sponsored links can be used as a platform for product promotion.
He follows up by introducing the purpose of the book and puts in a meaty excerpt (as a bonus, he also offers an audio format):
The community loves it.
Also, if there was ever a better opportunity to learn how to interact with redditors, it would be in this comment thread. While humorous and praise-worthy, there are some excellent promo bits:
Normally, a simple comment like “Inspirational stuff!” would warrant an equally simple response like “thanks!” However, Alexis goes on to express why it’s inspirational and cites multiple examples.
In the bottom comment, Alexis follows up with book tour inquirer and drops the email contact to make it happen.
Model for success:
- introduce the purpose for the product and/or why it’s going to be awesome
- offer something free (in this case, an excerpt)
- be an active participant in the discussion and go beyond the expected responses; really demonstrate your passion for your product
This example demonstrates how the majority of celebrities utilize Reddit for marketing purposes. What’s special about this case is the follow-up.
First, let’s take a look at the AMA, which is essentially a live Q&A format, where redditors post questions/comments/etc. and the host (in this case, John Malkovich) answers as many as they can. Almost every celebrity begins by mentioning an upcoming work, such as a movie or album:
John is very reasonable in his promotion, as I’ve seen many other celebrities include upwards of 4-5 links to their promos. In this case, John includes just one.
The AMA developed exceedingly well, with John bringing his unique sense of humor and voice to the table, as opposed to the general/blunt answers that other celebrities (or their PR handlers) have supplied.
But what makes this AMA exceptional is John’s follow up (click on ‘thank you’ to see his quick video of gratitude, which has received over 300,000 views…yes, a 30 second thank you video).
Model for success:
- introduce your product/service without being overly promotional – can you compact this to 10 words or less?
- create something special for the community, whether it’s an exclusive discount or quick thank-you video.
Here is a very creative example that utilizes ads and gamification to engage redditors.
Instead, Ford created their own subreddit dubbed “FordPiDayChallenge” back on March 14, 2012 for Pi Day. Ford took advantage of the niche-hype around Pi Day and used the subreddit to post 42 math questions throughout the day (with 3 minutes and 14 seconds between each question).
The first user to answer each question correctly received a full year of Reddit Gold.
Model for success:
- create something completely unique and beneficial to redditors
- maximize niche-hype (such as a Pi Day challenge)
- if you haven’t noticed the theme by now, your promotion should integrate an incentive that helps improve the overall experience.
Along with the appealing nature of challenges, Ford smartly incorporated branding into the campaign in multiple ways. The first and most obvious is in naming. Their username is fordmotorcompany and the name of the subreddit was FordPiDayChallenge. The second and less obvious is social media and word of mouth marketing. When people share and talk about this they’re naming Ford.
Essentially, this is an example of a PSA done right.
One of the co-founders of WePay (an alternative to PayPal), posted a lengthy message in the ‘self’ subreddit (designed for discussions and questions). His post disclosed his background and the nature of his submission right off the bat.
He starts off by describing how WePay formed, how PayPal originally supported them until they froze accounts, and how WePay became known as “Anti-PayPal,” granting them lots of mainstream limelight.
One snippet in particular is worth showing here:
So in addition to the PSA, he also mentions this new feature that was created specifically for Reddit. This adds more marketing and branding value to his post, making it an exemplary storytelling model.
The post received nearly 1,000 upvotes and 500 comments, which is A LOT of exposure.
Model for success:
- storytelling and disclosing information can radically rally troops and market a product
- don’t be afraid to disclose information; be sure to read through Reddit’s Self-Promotion guidelines.
If you’ve been following my monthly column, this example will come as familiar. This is one of my favorite case studies, as every bit of it demonstrates how to properly execute marketing on Reddit, from start to finish.
1. A redditor expresses frustration with beef jerky prices and it resonates well in one of the largest subreddits (AskReddit), garnering over 1,300 comments and 700 comments.
2. The user, /u/timothyjwood responds to the post by providing insight as to why beef jerky prices are in fact so expensive. His response is validated by mentioning how his parents own a beef jerky company.
3. Another redditor responds by suggesting he set up an exclusive discount for Reddit. Of course, other redditors vote this comment up.
4. The same user, /u/timothyjwood creates a new Reddit account to represent his family’s beef jerky company, Bridgford Jerky. He keeps redditors updated on the discount status and notifies them once they discount goes live. Additionally, he creates a new post under the new company Reddit account just for the discount:
1. He starts off by explaining the purpose of this post which validates it to redditors. He smartly links to the original thread (the one we just looked at).
2. He explains further the benefit he is providing; in this case, an exclusive discount to redditors on beef jerky and how much they’ll save.
3. He gives a little more info for clarity about how long the discount will last.
4. He discloses the reason his name is branded (generally, redditors frown upon branded usernames).
5. He follows up with curious redditors by providing transparent information about his sales strategy. Additionally, he runs his own AMA (see, you don’t have to be John Malkovich to run a successful AMA!) which fuels even more exposure and reputation to his family’s beef jerky company.
From a business perspective, the discount campaign resulted in about $23,000 in net sales, in just one week. This is huge considering they were averaging $2,500 a month.
Model for success:
- identify a niche pain point in your industry (such as someone frustrated with expensive beef jerky prices)
- be transparent, disclose basic information (such as purpose of your business), and demonstrate you want to help solve the problem
- work with the Reddit community to create a mutually beneficial solution (such as an exclusive discount)
- follow up with everyone, such as providing sales info or answering questions about products
One of the most important notions out of this article is to maximize the power of niche-targeting on Reddit. A better term could be niche-help; as helping people on Reddit generally translates into sales and positive brand recognition.
Along the same vein, niche-monitoring is an exceptional extension of social listening.
Bonus Exercise: How to find a niche subreddit and a niche opportunity
The popular mustang parts company, CJ Pony Parts was listed in a Memorial Day post on the Mustang subreddit. This post featured two holiday discounts; one from CJ Pony Parts, and another from a different company. While this post received about a dozen upvotes, it received no comments.
If you were paying attention to the Bridgford Jerky example, you might realize now how CJ Pony Parts could have maximized this subreddit better on Memorial Day, instead of having their discount promoted with a (most likely) competitor.
Try finding niche opportunities like this yourself by running a search for something related to your business. Identify and study pain point posts, promotional posts, and discussions. Contribute to the discussion and try replicating one of these examples in a unique way to your business.
Hopefully these examples have provided insights or sparked ideas on your end!
Feel free to leave a question or comment and I’ll be more than happy to help you out.