header image: your startup should be marketing on reddit

in Marketing, Social Media

Why Your Startup Should Be on Reddit…

Reddit is a real asset for any startup or startup founder. It will provide support, ideas, business and will help you establish your brand. Let’s explain how…

What is reddit?

reddit is for startups, not only cats

It’s more than a website with cat pics.

Reddit isn’t about news, it’s about its community. This is its killer feature – it’s huge. Reddit’s advertising figures boast 114 million monthly unique visitors – with approximately 25 million coming from just the US.

Reddit’s key innovation is its voting system. Reddit will generally show you content that people have judged to be good because anything posted on it – pictures, questions, comments – can be “upvoted” or “downvoted” by its users. Stuff that gets the most positive votes gets moved to the top of the “best posts” list or list of comments.

But how does the voting system work?

When something is posted, it gets put pretty far down the list of “best posts” but at the top of the much less read “new posts” list. But Reddit’s “best posts” list is designed to favor newer items, especially those posted in the last 24 hours. This is because over time, the value of past votes decay and old content is replaced by new.

For something to cross over to prominence on the “best posts” list, it needs to get quite a few upvotes within the first 10 minutes of it being posted – because – as a very new post, it won’t need as many upvotes to get there.

reddit upvotes

Hitting the front page of the “best posts” list creates a loop where its prominence on the site and the opportunity to earn more votes. You go viral.

Before You Begin….

Download RES (Reddit Enhancement Suite). It’s a browser plugin that makes reddit a better experience.

Screen Shot 2014-12-06 at 1.17.53 AM

Getting Started…. A Million Different Subjects

Reddit is divided into sections called “sub-reddits” where particular topics are discussed. This includes the popular “AskReddit” section where posters either ask or answer questions posted by other users. Each subreddit has its own “best posts” and “new posts” lists.

There’s a subreddit for everything… even multiple subreddits for the same subject. But how to find the right ones?

1. MetaReddit.com

MetaReddit is a search engine that will let you find subreddits that discuss a particular subject. Reddit has an internal but less good version too – http://www.reddit.com/reddits/

2. Reddit Internal Search / Domains

Reddit’s internal topic search is pretty bad but another way of finding the correct subreddit is to search for something that this subreddit may discuss – i.e. searching all subreddits for “ruud van nistelrooy” via http://www.reddit.com/domain/dailymail.com/search?q=ruud+van+nistelrooy&sort=relevance&t=all turns up posts from /r/soccer, /r/reddevils, and /r/realmadrid which are the relevant subreddits to discuss this.

You can also see which subreddits are sharing a particular website’s content by visiting http://www.reddit.com/domain/dailymail.com – substituting dailymail.com for whichever site you want to check. Plug in your own site, your competitors site and so on to see where they’re being shared. You can also repeat this with a backlink tool like Ahrefs.

3. Google

The best way of searching reddit is surprisingly using Google. Google can be locked to only search reddit by typing site:reddit.com and then what you’re looking for.

For example, search for: “site:reddit.com SEO” (without quotes of course)

and get…

reddit search for SEO

Note: For SEO subreddits, I am biased towards /r/BigSEO myself đŸ™‚

Also, Siege Media compiled this awesome list of 750 Popular Subreddits, Categorized by Industry and Submission Type (for Marketers). Definitely check it out.

What Should A Start Up Use Reddit for?

1. Peer feedback and validation

Reddit is lucky enough to have 2 awesome communities – the r/entrepreneur and r/startups subreddits. Both have around 100,000 subscribers but it’s populated with a mixture of newbie and veteran fellow founders and people willing to give their suggestions and insight.

People share useful content such as this list of free services that could be useful to startups or sites to submit your startup to after launch.

People share specific advice and promote their blog posts that they made to help other startups… or just ask questions.

Don’t forget about r/smallbusiness either!

2. Expert-ish but free advice

So you’re a developer and your startup doesn’t have the budget for marketing? Or you’re a non-technical and need some advice on WordPress? There’s a subreddit for everything. Awesome subreddits to get help OR learn from include…

Marketing Advice: r/marketing, r/seo, r/bigseo, and r/askmarketing

Technical Advice: r/wordpress, r/iosprogramming, and r/androiddev

Learning: r/learnprogramming

Reddit is genuinely home to people who are willing to spend 20-30 minutes researching and writing a reply in return for a mere thank you. If there’s an area that you’re weak on, ask a question on a relevant subreddit. There are experts willing to offer free advice in every area. But remember to share the love and help out where you can too.

3. To connect with your local community

There’s going to be a subreddit about your region, city, town or state. Ideal for networking and learning about regional events. People have found co-founders through reddit!

4. For content ideas and research

Reddit can be a crowd sourced solution for nearly every problem a startup could face but it’s also a great source of content ideas. People have accused sites such as the Huffington Post and Buzzfeed of “re-posting” curated content from reddit that’s proven popular. AskReddit is a subreddit where people pose site users a question and popular questions can be a rich source of topics for your blog to discuss. A topic on romantic gifts got over 7000 replies and some of the top suggestions are witty, inventive and very original.

Because of reddit’s “decay” system, advice posted in that thread will become mostly hidden away within days.

Companies seem to re-appropriate content from reddit without giving credit or asking permission – in fact we wouldn’t be surprised if companies pose questions on relevant subreddits just to save themselves researching the topic for the blog themselves.

I would recommend sending the original author a private message to request permission for your intended re-use… stating that you fully intend to credit them.

Other great subreddits for ideas include r/InternetIsBeatiful, r/DataIsBeautiful and r/Infographics.

5. For content promotion and brand building

Some rules of reddit:

  1. Thou shall not spam.
  2. Thou shall not stealth market.
  3. Thou shall not shill.
  4. Thou shall provide value.

What’s Shilling?

Account 1: “Where’s the best place for fish in Manchester?”
Account 2: “Fishy Joes”.

Redditors are suspicious of genuine praise for companies and have been known to become full-on detectives to investigate who is doing the praising. Shilling is either posting in a natural thread to promote your company or using a sock puppet account to post a question where you can promote your company. Companies do this a lot but… they really shouldn’t.

The stealth exposure tactic.

Account 2: “Look at this funny doodle the delivery guy from Fishy Joes drew”.

Where you’re trying to make promotion of your product look incidental. This is quite common – prime offenders are supposed to be Coca Cola and Kelloggs. For example, this picture of a “perfectly crushed” can got over 2500 upvotes and seen by many people. It didn’t make me want to rush out and buy a few cans but this probably only works for companies where the purchase is impulse based.

Overt Spamming

Account 1: “HEY GUYS! Buy fish from Fishy Joes”.

With or without a sock puppet account, it’s not going to win you friends. Any content or posts you share should not be overly self promotion.

Verdict? These posts do not work. They’re going to annoy people and get you banned. The only way is to provide value…. but how?

Providing Value Through Content And Thought Leadership

Content marketing is a form of marketing and brand building whereby instead of promoting your company, you promote something useful that your company has made that is interesting enough for people to share. Reddit is used as a seeding mechanism for your content – you hope that reading it inspires them to share it with their Facebook friends or on Twitter. This in turn grows your social following and helps build up your authority.

Account 1: “We posted 100 Recipes For Fish On Our Blog”.
Genuine Reader: “Wow! Bookmarked this. Thanks!”

Account 1: “Hey /r/dating_advice, it’s Valentines next week so we compiled a list of the most romantic dishes”.
Genuine Reader: “Can’t wait to try these”.

  1. Share your content on reddit.
  2. Get shares from exposure on other networks.
  3. Get followers and links to your content from people who have been introduced to it indirectly.
  4. Profit.

Thought leadership. This is a real phrase marketers use. It’s the positioning of yourself or your company as an expert by helping others with their problems. My advice here is to see what questions come up commonly – stuff that you can answer authoritatively – and then make an answer on your blog or reply on reddit. For extra zing, monitor Twitter for these questions too – you’ve already written a response.

But isn’t this spamming? Spamming is shouting. This is a conversation.

Topic on r/cooking: “Help! I need to make a gluten free batter?”
Account 1: “Hi, I run a fish restaurant called Fishy Joes and this issue comes up from time to time. We’ve tested a whole bunch of recipes and here is our twist….”.

Find a relevant section to promote your content.

More Advice?

Remember that most subreddits are pre-dominantly US based so you should post at US appropriate times (this can become more difficult if you’re internationally based). Look at the historical “top posts” list in that subreddit to see when the top posts were made.

You can find the subreddits that your competitors are using quite easily by visiting http://www.reddit.com/domain/entrepreneur.com and replacing entrepreneur.com with the domain you’re checking. Equally a backlinks tool like Ahrefs can show you even more information.

Re-posting is generally frowned upon but happens – sometimes your content doesn’t get the escape velocity to break from the new list to the best list. Re-try.

Build up your post history on reddit and always lurk a bit before posting anything. Each subreddit has its own rules. If you’d like some advice on what NOT to do, follow the r/hailcorporate subreddit for spammers being named and shamed.

Monitor the conversion using either daily searches (example) or preferably using Track Reddit (or similar service).

If you’re alerted when someone discusses a topic you’ve written about on your blog or discusses a problem your startup solves, it’s good to reply.

Joining a long dead conversation won’t really benefit you and will look like spamming.

Remember, one of the best aspects of reddit, is the fact that there’s a reddit for anything. Use that to your advantage.

There’s even a subreddit where people give away free pizza. Yes, really.



If you’re looking for additional advice about how to leverage reddit for your marketing, check out this recap of a Twitter Chat where I went into greater detail on the subject.

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  1. One of the comprehensive and valuable article on how to use Reddit. We are a startup education company and we have used Reddit to promote our contents to our target audiences. But this article is giving us more insights and controls on how we can further use Reddit for much more bigger benefits for a startup company like us. It is really helpful especially the Google part and the sub reddits, mentioned in this post. I am going to use these tips and techniques to dive into more deep of Reddit.
    Thanks for sharing these valuable tips.

    Soumya Roy