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5 Tips for Becoming a Reddit Marketing Rockstar

  • Business
  • August 31, 2015 | Ryan O'Donnell

According to a 2014 study, Reddit referred 5.2 million visits to 140 different shopping category websites over the previous year. But many ecommerce businesses still steer clear of the site, either because they don’t know how to navigate Reddit’s unique structure of distinct subreddit communities, or they’re scared off by Reddit users’ notorious contempt for marketers who crash their conversations.

Still, with nearly 2 million unique visitors last month, Reddit presents a tough-to-resist opportunity to drive traffic to your store. And while Reddit’s users laugh clumsy marketers right off the site, they have been known to warm up to sincere small business owners who take the time to understand the community and its culture.

Here are some tips for getting started.

Make Sure You Understand Reddit

Reddit calls itself “The Front Page of the Internet,” and for good reason. Users submit content--blog posts, news stories, images, and videos--which other users comment on and vote up or down, essentially making the site a sort of real-time “best of the web” list.

What makes Reddit tricky to crack is that it’s not one big community, but rather a platform for many individual user-created communities--853,824 by one recent tally.

Each of these communities--called subreddits--is formed around a specific topic or interest and has its own users (called redditors) and rules of conduct set by volunteer moderators. That means the tactics you employ on Twitter, Instagram, and other social media networks will not only be ineffective, they could even get you in hot water with community members.

Seek Out Your Subreddits

Currently, there are more than 9,000 active subreddits devoted to every imaginable topic from science to sneaker deals. The easiest way to hone in on those relevant to your ecommerce business it to browse the list of subreddits and subscribe to any that relate to your product niche. For example, if you sell handmade jewelry, you may find potential audiences not only in the r/jewelry subreddit, but also in the r/piercing , r/weddingplanning, and r/femalefashionadvice communities.

When you’re identifying potential subreddits to join, place greater emphasis on engagement than popularity. A community with 50,000 users that has been active in the last couple of days will probably get you better response in the long run than one with twice as many subscribers that hasn’t seen a post in months.

Listen First

As the saying goes, every good conversation starts with good listening, and that’s especially true on Reddit. Once you’ve subscribed to some subreddits, just hang around for a few weeks and observe how members interact with each other, what kind of content gets upvoted (and, just as importantly, downvoted), and absorb the culture.

This is also the time to familiarize yourself with your targeted subreddits’ rules--particularly any about posting links, images, or promotions--as well as general reddiquette. This upfront time investment can save you from inadvertently violating a subreddit’s guidelines and rankling the community--or worse, getting banned from it.

Keep It Real

When you feel comfortable enough to engage, remember that you’re there as a redditor, not a marketer, so behave like one. Interact with other members, and comment on their posts. Form relationships with other redditors. Be professional, but don’t be afraid to show your passion for the subreddit’s topic.

Do these things and you’ll naturally increase your Karma, an accumulation of goodwill that is the currency of Reddit. We can’t say how it will impact your next incarnation, but it will let other redditors know you’re a valuable contributor to the community, which increases your chances that they’ll be interested in what your business has to offer.

Submit Content Carefully

Memorize this line from Reddit’s User Agreement: “Cluttering Reddit with junk or spam reduces the quality of the Reddit experience.”

While the types of things you can post will be dictated by your particular subreddit’s rules--and it bears repeating: Become intimately familiar with them--a few general guidelines apply.

  • Make sure your posts are relevant to the niche topic and are contributing to the quality of the group.
  • Only post unique, creative content; generic, boilerplate marketing-style content is doomed to get downvoted.
  • Deep knowledge and humor are qualities widely revered on Reddit. If you can reflect them in your content, you’ll increase your chances of it being upvoted.
  • Don’t overpromote your website. Domains that are posted too often can get blacklisted as a spammed domain by Reddit’s spam filters.
  • Above all, avoid anything that smacks of blatant self-promotion.

Follow these tips and you’ll be able to confidently participate in Reddit communities and build awareness around your ecommerce business. Just remember that ultimately you, not your wares, is the product you’re selling.

Avalara Author
Ryan O'Donnell
Avalara Author Ryan O'Donnell