Reddit: what it is, how it works and its use in digital marketing

Reddit is a free social news and entertainment site that describes itself as ‘the source of the newest and most popular things on the web’ and many people attribute to it the role of the front page of the Internet – ‘The Front Page of the Internet’. Just like the front page of a newspaper, this social platform reports all the juiciest news of the day or the hottest pictures, videos, etc. in real-time.

Why use Reddit? The answers to this question can be many, and to explain them in a couple of lines would be reductive, so below I will try to elaborate as much as possible, proceeding by points.

In this article, you will discover: 

  • what this social is and how it differs from others;
  • how to register and what you can do on Reddit;
  • 3 ways to integrate it into a digital marketing strategy.

This last point is particularly relevant because nowadays, social media is a communication tool, so it is important to understand, at least in general, whether using marketing on Reddit may turn out to be a wise decision.

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What is Reddit

Reddit is a social news aggregator: a cross between a discussion forum and a distributor of links, divided into categories of topics called subreddits. The users who browse on this platform are called redditors and are nothing more than content creators, from consumers to a brand’s customers, to the most ordinary web surfers who wish to have their say on a given topic.

what is reddit and how does it work

What does Reddit mean? The term comes from the fusion of ‘Read’ and ‘Edit’, two words that put together make up the expression ‘Read it’, translated into English as ‘Read this’. The objective, therefore, seems very clear: within this portal you can find useful information to read!

Here you can create posts and real communities, and this is thanks to a points-based voting system. It is the community that determines which content and discussions are most important, a mechanism that leads to specific posts being more visible, making them reach the top of the feed.

Reddit is a social network mainly used in the US, while Reddit Italy is still struggling to emerge.

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How is Reddit different from other social media?

The biggest difference between Reddit and other social platforms is the tendency of redditors to focus more on published content than on private relationships. Users more often than not keep their identity anonymous and when they have to interact with someone they do so only in relation to the single post under which they comment.

Whereas on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter there is the objective of seeking each other out, adding each other, following each other, and creating a network of friends, on Reddit very often the intention is not to be found or recognized.

How many people have Reddit? The most interesting content is in English, and although the menu can be set in other languages, according to Google Ad Planner data, 68% of redditors come from the United States. Language is also one of the main factors explaining why, despite the platform’s great potential, it is little used.

According to this information, it is wise for you to be on Reddit to keep abreast of new trends that usually only arrive later.

Nowadays, social media have a very strong impact on the communication of every business, so it is very important to know how they work and how to make the most of them, especially within one’s own Social Media Marketing strategy. To this end, it is crucial to receive advice from real professionals on the road to take.

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How Reddit works

Just like a forum, Reddit welcomes posts and comments from network users and does so by dividing topics into sub-topics with directories (subreddits), which have the same function as Twitter hashtags, i.e. to collect information generated by content creators and to trend the different news items.

Once subscribed, you have the option of choosing to follow certain subreddits, from which you can unsubscribe by choosing other sections to subscribe to. As I anticipated, there is a whole world behind Reddit, which adapts itself to how you want it to, so it is wise to take advantage of this opportunity to edit the topics you are most interested in.

You might, for instance, want to use Reddit for business, using it as a Web Marketing tool. Finding out the latest trends will help you improve your business and marketing through user comments on your company’s products.

Keep in mind, however, that profile customization is only allowed for registered users and that in addition to modifying your home page, you will also be able to choose the menu language and filter the language of the topics displayed.

How to register for the platform

So, if you want to understand how to use Reddit, first you need to create an account. Go to the portal’s official page and click on “Sign up” – button on the top right. You can sign up via your Google account – ‘Continue with Google’ – or via your Apple account – ‘Continue via Apple’.

how to create reddit account

Source: Reddit site

You also have the option of registering by email. Just enter your address in the appropriate field and press the ‘Continue’ button to proceed with the registration.

After that, enter the username you wish to use, set your password, declare that you are not a robot, and finally press ‘Sign up’. You’re done!

As soon as you register on the platform, you will be able to choose subreddits and communities of your liking: categories and topics that you may wish to follow such as Memes, Gaming, Television, Music, or Travel. Remember, after this, to check your inbox to verify your newly created account. Once verified, the account will be active and you will be able to customize it to your liking.

You can set the language, gender, and age, enter additional personal information, and choose an image (avatar) from those available, or upload one in png or jpg format.

If you are wondering how old you have to be for Reddit, the answer is at least 13. Sometimes, however, some content can only be viewed if you are over 13, so read the user agreement carefully, as well as the ‘reddiquette’ and any warnings that appear on the platform.

What are Subreddits

Now that you are a member of Reddit, you will be interested to understand what exactly subreddits are. They define the topic categories on which discussions are generated within this large content forum. They are directories that collect all the posts, texts, images, and videos created by users on a given topic.

The entertainment aspect of this platform is precisely the possibility you have to explore the various subreddits to discover interesting information that can be useful for working with social media, having fun watching videos, or even finding spoilers for a TV series.

From the home page, you can explore the subreddits in two ways:

  • using your feed filter and then choosing between ‘Best’, ‘Trending’, ‘New’, ‘Top Rated’, ‘Growing’;
  • or by clicking on the ‘Start Page’ drop-down menu at the top left, where you can choose between ‘All’ and ‘Popular’, in the latter case seeing the most popular content available at the time.

By following these instructions, you can view the different subreddits and choose to subscribe to them if they are of interest to you. To subscribe, simply click on the ‘Join’ button and all content in that category will then enter your feed.

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How to create a post or community

I am sure that now, after having explored the topics on Reddit, you are wondering how to start using it more actively. To make a post, simply click on the “Create post” box that appears at the top of the homepage, and a section, very similar to the one on Facebook, will open up for you to fill in.

how to create a post on reddit

Source: Reddit website

The first thing you need to do is to choose the subreddit – indicated by “r/(category name)” – – within which you intend to place the post to be published. Then, add a title and, in the box below, write a text.

You can write a text-only post by clicking on the ‘post’ button, create a multimedia one by clicking on ‘Images and videos’, one with an external link by clicking on ‘Link’, or a poll post by clicking on ‘Poll’.

If you want to use Reddit to generate discussion around your favorite TV series, you could also use the Spoiler tag. Once this tag is inserted, your post will be marked as such and users will know that it is content to avoid if they do not want to find out the spoilers about that film.

Once you have finished creating your content, click on the ‘post’ button to share it. You can also decide to save a draft of your post with the ‘Save draft’ button. I recommend that you make sure that you tick the ‘Send me notifications for post replies’ box to be informed of replies received.

How to see your own posts on Reddit? The operation is very simple. If you would like to view all the content in your directories, you can go to ‘Profile’ where you will find:

  • overview of your content;
  • post;
  • comments;
  • what you saved;
  • what you have hidden;
  • upvoted content;
  • downvoted content;
  • awards received;
  • prizes donated.

The content you will see with the NSFW (Not Safe For Work) tag serves to warn readers that you are dealing with information not suitable for workplaces. The FLAIR option, on the other hand, allows you to add a subcategory to the subreddit within which you are publishing your post. This feature is useful for displaying content in a given category when it is overpopulated by users.

Finally, you also have the option of creating a real community, which in other words means creating your own subreddit. How to do this? Click on the ‘Home Page’ button at the top left and press the plus button ‘Create Community’. You have 21 characters to enter the name (mandatory). After that, decide on the type of community:

  • public, giving anyone the opportunity to publish, comment inside;
  • restricted access, where anyone can view but only approved users can post;
  • private, where only approved users can both view and post.

Finally, remember to place the final tick that determines whether the content of the Reddit community you have just created is for adults (18 years and older).

How to vote on Reddit

I will now explain what Reddit’s voting system consists of. The interesting thing about this platform is the ‘best of the best’, what users liked the most.

Next to each post, there are two arrows, one going down and one going up; if you like a post click on the up arrow (upvoting), if you do not like it click on the down arrow (downvoting). By upvoting you are recommending or not recommending the viewing of the content to the reader.

The difference between the upvotes and downvotes gives rise to a score that lies between the two arrows mentioned above. Reddit tells us that the result of the difference between upvotes and downvotes is exact, while the number of upvotes and downvotes is “fuzzed”, i.e. offset.

Posts with the highest final score climb up the feed of both the homepage and the individual sections to which they belong because they are deemed to be more popular, of higher quality, and of greater positive contribution to the general topic. Periodically Reddit sends all old posts down to give new ones a chance to compete for a position in the feed.

karma points

Source: Reddit site

In addition, one thing you should know is the meaning of the Karma points that can be found on each redditor’s profile next to the username. These points reflect the kind of reputation you have on the platform. The best way to earn them is to share posts that will be rated and liked via ‘upvotes’.

Karma points serve more for personal glory than anything else, but there are cases where those who possess them can have some small benefit. For example, in order to be able to post in some subreddits such as /r/videos it is necessary to reach a minimum of Karma points, whereas in other private ones such as /r/centuryclub, it is necessary to reach a minimum of Karma points in order to join.

3 ways to do digital marketing with Reddit

Having understood Reddit what it is and how it works, I will talk about the strategic part. Doing Digital Marketing on this portal is possible, although more difficult than on other social networks. If your content (articles, blog posts, photos, and videos of company products) goes in the direction of information and is interesting, you can decide to sponsor it to get some publicity. But not only that.

There are many redditors talking about products and services, so you may find it useful to find out comments and feedback from users – perhaps your own consumers -, strengthening your research and thus also improving your digital strategy.

Furthermore, you can reply to comments generated about the brand yourself, just like a good Community Manager, although this is a more difficult task to manage on this social, or you can create conversations where you state who you are and open a question session about your brand/product/service. Always remember, though, that you have to be registered on the platform to be able to do this and that Reddit content is moderated by the users themselves who create it.

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Promote your content

Reddit is a social networking site where you can do digital marketing through paid promotion via adverts. If you want to put your videos and images in the foreground, and especially high up in the feed of certain target users, you should consider promoting your content.

Promotion allows you to keep your created posts higher and prioritized in subreddits and target them to specific user segments. As with sponsorships on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, the content will be marked as promotional.

Discover customer feedback

Although it is difficult to locate real official company profiles on Reddit – most redditors are not affiliated with a brand -, reading community discussions generated around a brand, product or service can be very useful, especially if you work for a company.

what exactly reddit used for

Even indirectly, it may happen that a potential customer using social to find out more about a specific product may find discussions created by customers of that brand about the very product they would like to buy and decide accordingly. So, watch what redditors say about you!

Reddit is a social media site populated by gaming enthusiasts. It is precisely gamers who log onto the platform to discuss new launches, exchange tips and discuss problems they might have while using a particular video game.

And so it also works for users who create a subreddit or community that talks about a restaurant, such as McDonald’s, to discuss and comment on a new sandwich or some special feature related to the service offered by the famous chain.

Feedback can be both positive and negative, so if you work for a company and are involved in marketing, you should take a tour of this site and monitor what is being said about you, and the products of the brand you work for, and take action, if necessary, to improve your digital strategy.

Create an AMA session

The acronym AMA on Reddit stands for ‘Ask me Anything’ and indicates a question-and-answer session generally opened by a public figure who thus answers all questions that redditors or users decide to ask him.

This type of activity is considered a digital communication strategy for companies. If you are a staff member of a company, creating an AMA will allow you to officially declare yourself to network users, who will know who they are talking to and can ask you questions. In this way, you can strengthen your recognisability and answer inquiries yourself.

The particularity of Reddit, as I indicated above, is that those who create content do not have a revealed identity, in fact most redditors tend to hide, just as there is no real officialdom for brands that explore this platform by disclosing their content. Thanks to AMA sessions, the brand, public figure, or SMM on duty can reveal themselves to the public and make people talk about them.

Remember, however, that this type of social promotion is considered most effective when you have an influencer or well-known personality who is affiliated with your brand and who will answer questions for you.

Remember, however, that this type of social promotion is considered most effective when you have an influencer or well-known personality who is affiliated with your brand and who will answer questions for you.

Examples of companies that have opened AMA sessions on Reddit are: Nissan and Audi. The former led the way in experimenting with this activity in 2015, when its CEO created a post in the ‘IAmA’ subreddit to talk about a product launch, inviting people to ask him questions. Audi, on the other hand, used the AMA sessions to post a series of live videos starring celebrities testing the brand’s new car on a test track.

Conclusions and free advice

Reddit is a social media with great potential. I hope you are now a little more aware of the tool and the benefits it can bring to your communication strategy.

Many people still wonder whether Reddit is dangerous because of some of the controversies it has been involved in over the years: subreddits promoting hatred, and communities inciting violence that are unfortunately also present in many other social platforms.

However, I want to remind you that Reddit is a news and entertainment site that offers a wide range of interesting topics to read about, so it can be used intelligently. You just have to respect its internal rules and exploit its potential, especially if you want to increase your brand awareness – recognisability and perception by consumer users – by letting the redditor network know that you are there for them, that you can provide them with useful and why not also entertaining content.

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