How many marketers have been lured by siren song of reddit, only to have been downvoted, banned, or seen their brand smashed upon the rocks?
What at first seems sexy—a site frequented by savvy tastemakers who often make or break viral content or kickstart the next big internet trend—can quickly become a disaster when marketers ignore the rules or treat the reddit community with contempt.
While redditors love being on the cutting edge and discovering fresh content, they are notoriously hostile to inauthentic marketing and self promotion. If they think you’re trying to sell them something, they’ll be quick to slap you with a penalty.
Still, for many brands, the risks are worthwhile, especially if you are creating edgy or entertaining content or are offering an innovative product or service.
Before you wade in, here are five things to avoid doing on reddit.
Don’t Treat reddit Like Other Social Sites
For sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, social media marketing involves creating good content a posting it regularly. If a post doesn’t perform well, just post something better next time. Simple!
The way reddit works is completely different. Each time a reddit user posts, the “upvotes” and “downvotes” they receive contribute to their overall reddit “karma”. Good karma is achieved by posting interesting content and comments that receive upvotes. A high karma score won’t necessarily give your posts a bump, but it does signal to other users that you have good standing within the community.
Jumping on reddit and plugging your own business will generally get you a lot of downvotes, and ultimately result in low karma and suspicion from your fellow redditors. Becoming a successful redditor means building trust with users in your niche over a long period of time.
Don’t Post Your Content in Random subreddits
Another rookie mistake with reddit is being too literal with your posting. If you’re familiar with the site, you’ll know that it’s made up of hundreds of thousands of “subreddits” which are like discussion groups on a particular topics (e.g. r/SEO, r/photography, r/relationships, etc.).
Say, for example, that you just published an article on your blog titled “The 10 Best Hikes in LA—Ranked”. Your first thought might be to post it in r/hiking. But, given that this information is most useful to people currently living in Los Angeles, you might be better off posting it in r/losangeles.
You’ll also want to look at the activity and stats for a subreddit before you post. Use a site like redditlist.com to see the number of subscribers, growth, and current rank of the subreddits you are targeting. Ideally you want to find subreddits that have a substantial following but also overlap with your niche.
Obviously, it’s a waste of time to post to a inactive subreddit. Posting to popular subreddits like r/news or r/funny might seem good way to get traffic, but they can be way too general. It’s better to seek out niche subreddits that will appeal to your core audience.
Don’t Post the Same Content in Different subreddits
Since there are so many overlapping topics on reddit, it may be tempting to post the same content across multiple subreddits. This type of behaviour will get you banned immediately. Instead, focus on providing value to reddit’s users, and only share relevant content and ideas that you find genuinely interesting.
Another red flag for redditors is only posting links to your own website. By clicking on the link to your profile, anyone can see your previous posts. If you only have links to a single website, it’s going to look pretty suspicious. You’ll also want to avoid asking for upvotes. While asking for likes and shares on other platforms is acceptable, it’s a turn off for redditors.
Don’t Expect reddit Users to Respond Enthusiastically to Promotional Content
On your other social media pages, you may spend hours crafting sales pitches to potential customers. This won’t work on reddit. Salesly posts will come off as inauthentic. Instead, stick to an informal tone and try to be honest and straightforward in your posts.
As I mentioned earlier, obvious marketing or promotional posts will usually get you downvoted or banned.
If you’re serious about marketing on reddit, try and create content that will provide value to reddit users. You can do this by thinking outside the box and creating fun, unusual, and engaging content that doesn’t go for the hard sell.
Don’t Flout the Rules
Reddit users are notorious for banning people who don’t follow the guidelines. Before you post anything, make sure you understand the overall rules of the site, or “reddiquette.”
In addition, each subreddit usually has its own set of rules. For example, r/askreddit has a rule that you must post a clear and direct question in the title. Violating this rule may result in your post being deleted or even in a ban. Rules are usually displayed on the right sidebar of the subreddit’s homepage.
If you repeatedly flout the rules and post spammy links to your site, you could even wind up getting your domain banned from reddit for good. This would be very bad!
The key to marketing on reddit is to remain respectful and ensure that you are genuinely engaging with the community and contributing something of value. Work at building your reddit karma, and monitor subreddits in your niche for news and ideas.
For more great content on social media marketing, tune in to my Marketing Speak podcast.