Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Snapchat. Maybe Pinterest. And probably LinkedIn (but only if you’re B2B).
It’s the stuff that safe and steady social media strategies are made of. But social media is crowded, and it seems to be growing more expensive by the minute. While these platforms are reliable and can deliver on a comfortable baseline of expectations, it is increasingly difficult for brands to stick out in these spaces with an ownable and meaningful presence unless they are willing to increase their budgets.
There is, however, another option. A channel where you can reach millions of consumers, targeting specific audiences based on specific interests, and publish material that isn’t lost in a sea of similar content.
It’s time for brands to roll the dice and place their bets on Reddit.
The Front Page of the Internet
If you get past what can be an admittedly particular audience (more on that later), Reddit can open a world of opportunity for brands.
Not only is the platform a breeding ground for viral content—media outlets like Buzzfeed are notorious for repurposing content that originated on Reddit—staying active on the platform can also keep your brand ahead of the curve on trending language, memes, and other (pop-)cultural discourse before they reach “traditional” social platforms like Facebook or Twitter.
Reddit could also be a key differentiator for brands. While many can’t get past the prickly community or lack of social graces, others can view this as an opportunity to reach highly specific niche audiences (already conveniently categorized in over 1 million unique subreddits), on a channel that boasts 8 billion monthly visits and an average time-on-site of over 13 minutes, and that is (likely) free from competitors taking a bite out of the same apple.
Celebrating Content Creators
More importantly, Reddit has made internal adjustments that prove it is committed to supporting content creators.Supporting content creators is essential to the success of both a platform and a brand—just look at Vine, which failed to consider this, or Snapchat, which seems to be headed to an equally grim fate.
Reddit appears to be bolstering several marketing options for brands and publishers alike, allowing them to post on their own behalf, sponsor and promote user posts, run traditional ads, host AMAs, and more.
Perhaps the most interesting play comes with the unveiling of their new “profile page” offering (currently being rolled out to select users), which, for the first time, opens up the possibility of influencer-based marketing.
It’s worth noting that these changes and new offerings aren’t just drawing quirky gamer brands or niche techie products—they are catching the attention of major publishers like the Washington Post. In a conversation with AdAge, WaPo’s director of audience development explained, "Previously, it was hard to have a centralized presence, and this gives us a home to try some new things out and develop a voice. Meet readers where they are."
Addressing the Troll in the Room
Redditors are notoriously… shall we say honest?
The anonymous nature of the platform emboldens users to speak more harshly than they might if their name was going to be attributed to their commentary. This scares a good number of brands away from the platform, though I’d argue that it’s an unfair rationale for dismissing it entirely.
Because while it’s not an unfair generalization, it is not accurate to assume that the worst of the internet is confined to the platform, either.
Where Facebook and Instagram let you hide or delete comments—a measure of control that gives brands a certain level of security—that only provides the illusion of a troll-free experience. No matter where your brand is posting online, there will be provocateurs looking for attention.
It’s true that Reddit is still a bit like the Wild West, but brands who leverage the channel carefully, ingraining themselves in the culture of the space, have actually seen success and been welcomed to the platform by users. Not to mention, brands that avoid Reddit aren’t exactly safe from its ridicule, anyway.
Simply put, Reddit wants content creators to succeed.
Despite their size and dedicated audience, they are still viewed by the public as a weird, dark corner of the internet, rather than an established and prolific content hub. So when influencers or brands or marketers succeed here, those victories are victories for the platform, too, as it works to legitimize itself as a digital marketing channel that can go toe-to-toe with Facebook or Twitter.