Reddit SEO Rabbit Hole

In February of 2024, Google struck a $60 million partnership with Reddit to train AI models. Since then, Reddit posts are now ranking in Google’s top search results in as little as five minutes, according to recent research. With a significant boost in visibility and associated traffic, Reddit has become a new channel for many digital marketers, especially SEO professionals. While the opportunities are significant, there are dangers for brands rushing into marketing on Reddit.

Reddit is Real
According to Business of Apps, Reddit had 70 million daily active users and approximately 850 million users who use it once a month in Q4 of 2023, generating 199 billion yearly pageviews. That number has significantly increased since the Google partnership, no doubt. Regardless of the exact numbers, the sheer size and scope of the audience is unignorable and should be considered by marketers unfamiliar with the platform.

Reddit’s global popularity translates to immense potential reach for brands. An active, well-executed Reddit strategy enables companies to increase awareness, monitor consumer sentiment, gather insights, and even drive traffic back to their websites for an SEO boost thanks to the Google integration. But there are potential pitfalls worthy of consideration.

The Risks of Getting It Wrong
While the potential upsides are significant, brands that fail to respect Reddit’s unique dynamics open themselves up to intense criticism and backlash from the notoriously anti-marketing community. It is essential for all marketers planning to engage on Reddit to review the User Agreement first. Some common missteps that can anger the Reddit hivemind include:

• Aggressive self-promotion, advertising, or posting links without adding value
• Attempting to covertly market by using fake accounts or “sock puppets”
• Demonstrating a fundamental lack of understanding about specific subreddit cultures
• Heavy-handed moderation or censorship of critical feedback as a brand representative

Reddit’s vigilant community has burned even large, established brands. In 2013, a Reddit ad campaign by IKEA asked users to provide free labor by submitting sample instructions for furniture assembly. The tone-deaf request was widely mocked, with Reddit users defiantly submitting prank instructions involving tools like chainsaws or narwhals. More recently, EA was labeled the “worst company in America” on Reddit over microtransaction policies in their video games.

Engaging on Reddit: Best Practices
Despite challenges, even scorned brands have learned to get it right on Reddit, including IKEA. To tap Reddit’s full potential brands must approach the online community as real members helping each other, rather than marketers. Building a meaningful presence on Reddit takes time, thought and effort to understand the unique cultural norms of specific subreddit communities. The rewards can be significant and are worthy of consideration. Below are four best practices for brands to consider when investing in Reddit.

• Monitoring relevant subreddits to understand the prevalent topics, lingo, and unwritten rules before attempting to participate.
• Focusing on adding value through insightful comments, expert advice, and helpful resources – not overt promotion.
• Embracing transparency about your brand affiliation if posting as an official representative.
• Adopting a respectful, conversational tone and having a sense of humor when appropriate.

Take the trailer and automotive communities like r/CargoTrailers, r/CargoCamper, or r/Hookit as examples. Members are enthusiastic DIYers and professionals who appreciate in-depth discussions and expert knowledge sharing about trailers. A trailer company would find more success providing tips on maintenance or cool camper builds than constantly pushing sales. Sales and marketing team members have a higher probability of getting shut down by Reddit administrators or community moderators.

A better approach for trailer manufacturers and dealerships would be to encourage customers and non-marketing employees to post based on their expert experience. For example, mechanics at dealerships can offer tremendous value to Reddit users with specific questions about repairs. Customer service professionals are well-equipped to answer questions about a specific trailer model or manufacturer. Should employees post on more than 138,000 Subreddits, it is imperative that they are transparent about the affiliation with their employers.

It is all about Karma
A vast majority of platforms reward engagement and Reddit is no exception. Reddit developed karma as a currency to reward active members and allow active brands to build trust within Subreddit communities. At a minimum, karma is required to post on select Subreddits. Karma is earned based on platform participation and is rewarded by Reddit for the following activities: posting, commenting, upvoting, giving and receiving awards, and engaging with users who comment on your posts. This excellent post provides detailed steps on how to build Reddit karma.

There are additional benefits to building karma with Reddit users. Once you have reached a minimum threshold of karma, you can create your own subreddits. This is a powerful way to build community around your specific brand, products and services and is ideal for brands with Reddit-savvy customers. One way to maximize the value of your own Subreddit is to host an “Ask Me Anything” AMA session. This article outlines best practices for hosting a successful AMA session on Reddit.

Ad It Up
For brands more interested in maximizing reach on Reddit with minimal effort, advertising is always an option. Reddit offers targeted ads to engaged community members that generate awareness, drive traffic and other conversions, like other social media platforms. Reddit ad types vary in format and cost, including promoted posts and more expensive takeovers. While free-form, image, video and carousel ads are fairly standard, Reddit recently launched Shopping Ads, which are ideal for ecommerce brands. For examples, check out how brands have successfully utilized advertising to maximize reach and engagement on Reddit.

There is no doubt that Reddit presents an alluring opportunity for brands to increase their visibility, understand customers better, and even drive website traffic. However, the platform’s rabid community of users will mercilessly call out any attempts at clumsy marketing that disrespect Reddit’s principles.

The path forward requires careful strategy and resources dedicated to monitoring subreddit cultures, earning trust as a knowledgeable contributor, and engaging with an authentic, human voice. Get it right, and brands can reap the benefits of an enthusiastic base of loyal Reddit advocates. Get it wrong, and they may become the latest target of the internet’s ridicule.

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