If you’ve been following my monthly column here at Maximize Social Business, you’ll know I have a passion for translating the odd world of reddit. Now it’s time to answer the frequently asked question, “What is a subreddit on reddit?”
I began with a post explaining reasons to consider maximizing reddit for business and put together multiple guides:
- 15 reddit Beginner Tips
- Complete Guide to Advertising on reddit
- Installing and Maximizing reddit Tools
These serve as a solid primer for anyone unfamiliar with reddit’s fundamentals.
Today, we’re going to uncover the mystery of subreddits; a powerful network of niche communities that collectively define reddit.
What is a subreddit on reddit?
In essence, a subreddit is like a niche forum.
- specific subreddit rules
- moderators for each subreddit
- voting systems for links, self posts, and comments that depend on the subreddit theme
Each subreddit has a focus and for the most part, effectively maintains that focus.
For example, the subreddit /r/buildapc (for questions, feedback, and help regarding building a PC) would delete a post or link about a computer part deal, which belongs in /r/buildapcsales. See how that might be confusing to a new redditor? These are different subreddits, each with their own rules, moderators, and content theme.
Now there are thousands of subreddits. Anyone can create a subreddit (free) and make it public or private.
Subreddits that post or recieve at least 5 comments per day are considered ‘active’ while subreddits that do not are omitted from reddit’s community count.
Currently, there are 7,157 subreddits.
I was explaining reddit to a friend the other day and when I suggested they think of subreddits as individual websites, they seemed to have a better grasp.
Although subreddits all live on the reddit domain, they are entirely customizable and have varying types of community members.
These are the header images for just a few different subreddits.
Once you find a few subreddits you like, your reddit experience becomes completely different from just browsing the default front page.
What is the Anatomy of a subreddit?
Let’s revisit the elements of a subreddit in little more depth:
Each subreddit has unique rules for content and link submissions
The subreddit /r/explainlikeimfive has two tiers of rules:
You’ll notice the 1.5 million+ readers and 2,077 online; these are stats that all subreddits show. This translates to 1.5+ million people with a reddit account have subscribed to this subreddit and 2,077 people with a reddit account, that are subscribed, are currently online.
The term “readers” can be altered to fit the theme of the subreddit as well.
If we click on “the rules” link we’re directed to a Wiki on the subreddit that details proper etiquette specifically for their community.
This happens to be one of the default subreddits.
A default subreddit is part of a set of the most popular subreddits that collectively make up the front page for people without a reddit account. For people with a reddit account this is true as well until they customize their front page.
Each subreddit has their own moderators
Not only does /r/gadgets have a concrete set of moderation rules, but their moderators actively listen and act upon community requests.
You can send mail to moderators pertaining to the quality and development of the subreddit, as well as reporting unwanted submissions.
The moderators of subreddits are volunteers, they are not paid, and the more popular the subreddit, the more moderators there are (generally). I’ve noticed in many large and growing subreddits the moderators delegate tasks such as sifting through spam reports, flagging posts, and commenting where necessary. It’s pretty much a council of online community management and support.
Each subreddit has a specific theme for submissions
We’ve covered how subreddits have their own rules for content and how moderators regulate the community.
But what about community members who want to actively participate? Or in our case, businesses that want to actively participate?
I’ll get into the business side of things in a second, but let’s quickly look at why content
In any subreddit we can sort by “Top” scoring links from “All Time” to see what type of content performed the best.
In the subreddit /r/LifeProTips here’s what the top few submissions look like:
At the top in a red box I highlighted the “sponsored link” mark. This is reddit’s advertising model and this is how businesses may consider tapping into subreddits.
We can strategically target relevant subreddits and have our content, which appears the same as every other submission, appear at the very top of the subreddit page.
The trick is to create something aligned with top post submissions, the subreddit theme, the subreddit rules, and your communication or business goal. If we strive to meet these criteria and provide something valuable to the community, the chances of our sponsored link being well received increases.
LifeProTips is a broad place that many businesses could consider optimizing a sponsored link for.
There are 17 categories on LifeProTips, making it fairly easy to create content for.
How can subreddits help my business?
Pick a category that closely aligns with your business and think of something valuable and insightful that your business specializes in. Maybe it’s a really smart interviewing tip from someone in your HR department with a link to a company blog post that offers a detailed interviewing guide. Turn the sponsored link into a discussion by engaging redditors who comment and offering even more insight/advice. Now the sponsored link is more than a gateway to traffic and possible conversions; it’s become a valuable authority for career advice and a great branding opportunity.
Normally, the more “niche” a subreddit becomes, the less popular it is.
However, popularity on reddit generally dilutes the content quality of that subreddit.
When subreddits are in the 1,000 – 50,000 subscriber area, they are easier to moderate, have more in-depth content, and a generally higher content quality.
Let’s look at some examples of real companies and organizations from “difficult” industries. I want to dispel the popular idea that reddit is only viable for companies that align with the 18-28yr old, liberal, gaming, male demographic. Again, as subreddits become more niche, they also become uniquely defined by diverse demographics; specifically, the theme of that subreddit.
For example, /r/MechanicAdvice:
For a mustang part company like CJ Pony Parts, this is just one of the many possible subreddits they may consider for running a sponsored headline in. A general but insightful pro tip for proper car maintence could be a welcomed theme to run in this subreddit. There are, in fact, many other viable options, such as:
- /r/cars/ with 100,000 gear-heads
- /r/carporn/ with 70,000 gear-heads (safe for work)
- /r/Autos/ with 50,000 gear-heads
- /r/Cartalk/ with 15,000 gear-heads
- /r/Mustang/ with 7,000 gear-heads
- /r/classiccars/ with 7,000 gear-heads
- /r/Ford/ with 3,000 gear-heads
- /r/foxmustang/ with 500 gear-heads
- /r/NewedgeMustang/ with 75 gear-heads
Topics range from general car appreciation to specifically mustangs, and even the tight-nit Newedge Mustangs.
As a business in the mustang industry, their employees would have an even better idea of the type of content fellow pony enthusiasts would enjoy.
Let’s pick something a little more…dry. Like legal stuff!
For any law firm, reddit actually homes quite a large amount of relevant subreddits with very active community members.
Even /r/politics (one of the default subreddits with over 3 million subscribers) is a viable option for a sponsored headline, depending on the relevance.
There are niche categories like /r/ladymras, /r/mensrights, /r/cyberlaws, and /r/lawyers (which happens to be a private subreddit for licensed attorneys).
It can be overwhelming to select the “right” or “most appropriate” subreddit. For instance, Cyber Laws seems to be ideal:
But after a minute looking going through their rules and submissions, we’ll notice this is purely news. An expert roundup post from a reputable source like Bloomber BNA with a law firm listed might be in the gray area, which already loses the impact of having a direct site or brand link.
A more suitable subreddit would be /r/lawfirm or /r/legaladvice.
In these subreddits, a law firm could submit a sponsored headline similar to our previous examples, where a concise tip directs to a lengthier blog post. Most law firms are not active in the social space. However, Olshan Law is one of the well known firms with multiple blogs (a rarity), a news, and resources section. They can easily cater to the audiences of /r/lawfirm or /r/legaladvice in a manner aligned with those respective subreddits.
Next steps in Leveraging reddit subreddits
Start participating naturally in subreddits that are relevant to your business.
This helps us get used to the scene and style of different subreddits and allows us to craft better sponsored headlines. One of the primary goals should be to establish ourselves as an authority, a resource. This not only extends our branding ability, but acts as a potential customer referral path.
Learn more about the world of Reddit and Subreddits in this infographic from Reddit.