The Ultimate Reddit Marketing Guide to Driving Targeted Traffic

Since you’re reading this on the internet, I’m going to assume you know what Reddit is.

Even if you’re not a dedicated redditor, you probably have a general idea of what the site is all about.

(If you really don’t know anything about Reddit, it’s basically a gigantic online community made up of user-generated and user-curated content.)

Reddit ranks within the top 25 most-visited websites in the world, and often sees more than one million unique pageviews in a single day.

Reddit's traffic rank on Alexa

 

Consider those last two points from a marketer’s perspective. Light bulbs going off yet?

Simply put, if you go about it the right way, Reddit can be a major source of targeted traffic for your website—and ultimately lead to massive conversions.

Additionally, Reddit is considered the “front page of the internet,” for a reason—if your post makes it to Reddit’s homepage or to the top of a subreddit, there’s a good chance of getting coverage for your product or service or getting a link back if you’re promoting a post as a lot of influencers and publishers are scouring Reddit to find content for their own sites

But, that’s a pretty big if.

The thing about Reddit is, it’s not like most other social networks full of “everyday” users.

While effective marketing on any social network happens when you provide serious value to the readers, because Redditors are good at spotting marketers, you better be prepared to provide serious value to the Reddit community.

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If it’s blatantly obvious that you’re using it just to promote your business, things aren’t going to go well for you. Not only do you face the possibility of being banned from posting within a certain area of the site (or possibly the entire site altogether), but you also run the risk of ruining your online reputation as a whole.

Now, this isn’t to say that it’s impossible to generate traffic and leads by posting your own content to Reddit. But it’s not going to happen overnight, either.

The following article will discuss the process you’ll need to go through in order to successfully leverage the Reddit community as a reliable source of long term —trafficas well as common pitfalls to avoid while doing so.

(Sure you could skip this whole guide and bribe moderators, buy upvotes, and attempt to brigade other posts in an attempt to get your post front and center, but marketing isn’t manipulation and a strategy like this isn’t sustainable).

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Why Use Reddit for Marketing?

As a content marketer, becoming a redditor can benefit you in a number of ways:

  • (As mentioned) It can help drive massive amounts of targeted traffic to your blog or website
  • It can help you expand your audience base
  • It can point you toward trending topics and areas of interest within your niche

Let’s take a look at each of these benefits in greater detail.

A Traffic Influx

There’s no shortage of content marketers’ success stories with using Reddit to drive traffic to a specific website.

Eddy Azar’s website went from 41 to 4,266 visitors a day overnight after he posted a single link to a post on his site.

Spike in traffic in Google Analytics, referred by Reddit

 

(Source / Caption: Can’t argue with results.)

Ryan Stewart discovered how to leverage Reddit to grow his traffic numbers by over 1,000 visitors (an increase of about 33%).

And Travis Levell also gained almost 1,000 site visitors after posting a link to an article he’d written—and he posted it pretty much on a whim.

But there’s more to these examples than just traffic stats.

After posting on Reddit:

  • Eddy’s Medium following grew from zero to over 14,000 in one month
  • Ryan now uses Reddit to generate the majority of his traffic
  • Travis earned over 600 signups for a brand new offering in the two weeks after posting

So, not only did posting on Reddit help these guys get more eyes on their site, but it also helped them gain a larger following, and provide them the potential to grow their business.

And that’s because…

Reddit Makes It Easy to Target Highly-Qualified Audience Members

Reddit is made up of thousands and thousands of “subreddits”, which are forums dedicated to a specific topic or idea.

Subreddit topics can be fairly general (such as /r/science or /r/gaming), or they can be ultra-specific (“Squirrels eating unconventional things”).

Pizza squirrel thread on Reddit

Yes, we’re serious. Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/SEUT/.

 

There are also subreddits dedicated to educating the community in some way or another. On /r/explainlikeimfive/, members share simplified explanations of complex topics. On /r/todayilearned, people discuss interesting factoids they had never known before.

What this means for you as a marketer is you can almost certainly find at least one (and, more likely, numerous) subreddits full of individuals who align perfectly with your ideal customer personas.

As mentioned in the previous section, seeing an influx in traffic is one thing. Knowing that the new visitors to your site are champing at the bit to engage with you is another.

Reddit Uncovers Industry Trends as They Happen

If something worth knowing is happening in your industry, you can bet Reddit’s members will be on top of it.

Even if you’re just lurking through subreddits and not actively looking to generate traffic at the time, you can still glean valuable insight regarding:

  • Your customers’ pain points
  • Validate market demand for your product or service
  • New technologies in your industry
  • News and events that could change the way your company operates

The information you discover while browsing through your favorite subreddits can lead you to create new blog posts, fine-tune your marketing strategies, and better understand your customers.

In this way, using Reddit can even indirectly affect your business in a positive manner.

Can You Build Instant Karma?

We mentioned earlier that using Reddit to generate traffic is a fairly involved process (that’s totally worth the effort, mind you).

So before we dig into the nitty-gritty of how to leverage Reddit to grow your business, we need to discuss karma.

Reddit’s karma system essentially measures your reputation as a redditor.

You can gain (or lose) karma in two different areas: the links you post, and the comments you make on posts.

Reddit karma

It might take you a while to reach this level of Reddit epicness. Source: http://www.karmalb.com/.

 

While the number of upvotes and the timeframe those votes happen in a major part of how Reddit’s ranking algorithm works, karma is an important aspect of achieving success on Reddit. Basically, you can think of karma as a means to an end.

Marketers's Guide to Karma on Reddit

The higher your karma level, the more respect you’ll gain from the Reddit population (Also, some subreddits won’t even allow you to post links until you reach a certain level of karma). The more respect you have from the population, the more likely they are to trust you when you eventually begin posting your own content.

The more you are trusted, the more likely Redditors will give you an upvote (assuming whatever you are posting is epic), even if it’s self-promotional.

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Though whether you gain or lose karma is technically up to other users, the general rules are:

  • Posting valuable content, providing insightful commentary, and offering an overall positive experience will result in good karma.
  • Acting selfishly, being rude, trolling, and begging for upvotes or clicks will lead to bad karma.

As alluded to earlier, one of the biggest no-no’s when it comes to posting on Reddit is this:

Do not use Reddit solely to promote your own content. Redditors will see through you immediately, and, as mentioned earlier, will use any opportunity they can get to expose you to the community.

(You eventually will have the opportunity to promote your content, but we’ll get to that in a bit.)

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Using Reddit to Drive Traffic

Okay, now we’re ready to dive into the actual process of using Reddit to drive traffic to your site.

In this section, we’ll discuss the following:

  1. Picking the right subreddits to focus on
  2. Becoming a valued member of the community
  3. Posting your content
  4. The logistics behind posting on Reddit
  5. Advertising potential on Reddit

Let’s get started.

Picking the Right Subreddits

As we’ve discussed, there are literally thousands of subreddits to check out.

Of course, not all of them are relevant to your industry. But there are likely dozens (at least) that are.

But, even if a subreddit is relevant to your industry, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be the best place to focus your efforts.

Coding subreddits

An incredibly small sample of the list of Reddit communities. Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/ListOfSubreddits/wiki/listofsubreddits.

 

Before you begin actually browsing through possible subreddits to join, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What, specifically, are your areas of expertise?
  • What value are you aiming to provide your audience?
  • What are your target audience members interested in?

The answers to these questions will help you narrow down exactly which subreddits will help you achieve your goal of driving more traffic to your website. Without considering these questions, you run the risk of focusing on a subreddit that, as it turns out, doesn’t provide the much in terms of mutual value.

To find potential subreddits to join, search Reddit for keywords your target audience would use to search for your product or service. You’ll almost certainly be given a laundry list of subreddits to check out, some of which you’ll be able to screen out immediately. (Note: you can browse through the following list to find the top 5,000 subreddits).

Content marketing reddit threads

If you live in the US, the second result probably isn’t for you. Source: https://www.reddit.com/search?q=content+marketing&restrict_sr=&sort=relevance&t=all&type=sr&count=3&after=t5_2rdsd.

 

Once you’ve generated a decent-sized list of possible subreddits to hone in on, browse through them to get a good idea of:

  • How many subscribers each subreddit has
  • The most talked-about topics and types of content that have been posted within the past month
  • How active the community is in terms of posting and generating discussion
  • Popular opinions held throughout the community
  • Specific etiquette and rules for that subreddit
Example of reddit posting rules

Some of the rules for posting on /r/todayilearned. Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/todayilearned/.

 

Regarding the last two points, each subreddit is a community unto itself. Taking certain actions or making certain comments that might be acceptable in one subreddit may not be so well-received in another.

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If it’s not immediately clear where the community stands on a hot-button issue, dig deeper until you know for sure. Otherwise, you’ll come off looking like an outsider, and will almost certainly lose karma points in the process.

Reddit community spreadsheet

Consider using a spreadsheet to keep track of what’s acceptable to post where. Source: https://sumo.com/stories/growth-hacking-reddit/.

 

Getting “In” With the Community

Once you’ve joined a good amount of subreddits, and have learned as much as possible about the nuances of each, you’ll be ready to get involved.

But this doesn’t mean you should start posting your own content just yet.

Instead, begin by joining in the major discussions being held in the comments sections of the more popular posts.

But don’t just offer canned responses.

A run-of-the-mill comment might not necessarily result in bad karma. But it won’t get you any positive points, either. In other words, if your comment is boring and cookie-cutter, you might as well not say anything at all.

On the other hand, an insightful comment full of facts, examples, or links to further reading will not only earn the respect of the community, but it will also keep the conversation flowing.

Here's why you shouldn't test Reddit's algorithm

Go out of your way to be helpful for good karma. Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/TheoryOfReddit/comments/18r63h/does_reddit_protect_your_karma_totals_from_mass/.

 

If you happen to disagree with a comment someone else posted, that’s fine—as long as you’re respectful about it. Not only should you be respectful, but you also should back up your claims with (as mentioned above) facts, examples, and other documentation. Again, the point of commenting is to further the discussion, even if that means offering counterpoints and rebuttals.

Another thing to consider when putting yourself “out there” on Reddit is the hivemind aspect of the community.

Essentially, this refers to the fact that a good percentage of redditors in a community will blanketly agree or disagree with you based on whether or not you’re “going along with the herd.” In other words, be careful when posting counterpoints (even when justifiably warranted), as you might end up getting down-voted for reasons other than the quality of your comment.

Whether you agree or disagree, it never hurts to give kudos to others for voicing their opinion (and working hard to back it up). This extra bit of generosity can go a long way toward earning you a positive reputation within a subreddit, making it easier for others to trust that you’re there for the good of the community as a whole.

Once you’ve interacted with other community members enough to start gaining some karma (and possibly making connections), you can then begin actually posting content.

But not your own.

Instead, share resources such as blog posts, videos, podcasts, and infographics that will contribute to the on-going conversations in the community. By sharing content which you have zero stake in, you’ll further the notion that you’re there to provide value to the community, not just gain publicity for yourself.

Share resources such as blog posts, videos, podcasts, and infographics ...

Note that you should only share content if it will truly provide value to the community. In other words, don’t post dozens of links hoping a handful will resonate with other members. In the same way you (hopefully) don’t share every meme you come across with your friends on Facebook, be prudent when it comes to sharing resources in your targeted subreddits.

Also, stay away from controversy as best you can. Yes, you want to get noticed within the community, but you don’t want to be known as a rabble rouser. Even if the content you’re thinking of sharing is insightful and possibly valuable, if it’s too opinionated you run the risk of alienating a good amount of the community.

Once you’ve become a valued member of the community, it’s time to start sharing your own content and generating traffic to your site.

Posting Your Own Content on Reddit

Now that you’ve built a reputation for yourself as an active redditor who cares about your industry and community, you can start sharing your own content.

Regarding the actual content you share, follow the tried-and-true rules for creating epic content you’ve (hopefully) always followed. At this stage, the importance of sharing incredibly valuable content of your own is essential. Of all the content you’ve shared during your time engaged with the community, you want your own to be the absolute best of the best.

The content you share could be posts you’ve written previously – as long as it’s in-line with currently-trending topics in the subreddit. If the discussion steers toward a topic you’ve already written about (and your post meets the highest standard of quality), toss it out there for others to check out.

You can also leverage the on-going discussions within your community and create new content that goes along with it. Use the skyscraper technique to transform a so-so post into an absolute masterpiece. Provide information that supplements another user’s epic content. Or go against the grain and offer up a longform rebuttal.

You might be wondering if it’s acceptable to post the same piece of content in multiple subreddits. The answer is “yes, with a ‘but.’”

Begin by posting the link to the most appropriate subreddit (i.e., the one that prompted you to think of your content in the first place). Then, when posting to similar subreddits that would also get value from your content, include the phrase “[posted from /r/originalsubredditname]” in the subject line. Without this addendum, your multiple posts will look like spam to anyone who sees them in more than one spot.

Now that you’ve begun sharing your own content, there are a few things to note:

  • Don’t force it. You have a much better chance of gaining traction by posting articles that relate to the current topic than you do by posting something that came out of left field.
  • Don’t stop posting other people’s content. The community will figure out your intentions if you start posting links only to your own site.
  • Don’t beg for upvotes or clicks. The other community members don’t owe you anything. If they like your content, they’ll check it out.

Logistics Behind Posting Content on Reddit

These last pieces of advice will probably sound pretty familiar:

When posting content to Reddit, make sure it’ll get in front of the most eyes as possible, and make sure the title begs to be clicked.

Because Reddit’s massive community is active throughout the world, there’s no single optimal time to post your content. However, you can use Later for Reddit’s Subreddit Traffic Analysis tool to figure out the best time to post on a specific subreddit.

This tool requires you have a ballpark idea of how many upvotes you believe your content will get, assuming you post at the best possible time. For example, if you think you’ll get 50 upvotes, you might want to set the Vote Threshold at around 20-25.

Top posts by upvotes

The best time to post on /r/science seems to be 8:00am on Wednesday mornings. Source: https://www.redditlater.com/analysis/#/r/science.

 

While it’s possible to post at a less-than-optimal time and still see your fair share of upvotes, it’s best to get your content out there when you know the most people are looking – for two reasons:

  • The human factor. The more recent the link, the fresher (and more-clickable) it will appear in the eyes of your audience.
  • Reddit’s ranking algorithm. Newer stories are inherently scored higher than older ones. If your subreddit sees more than a few dozen posts per day, your content will easily get buried if you post at an inopportune time.

One thing worth noting here is, you really only need to worry about the time you post when posting your own content. Feel free to post other people’s content whenever you feel (as long as you follow the guidelines we set above).

If only a small amount of people see those posts, it’s a no-harm-no-foul situation. On the other hand, if you post your own content and nobody sees it, you’ve wasted an opportunity.

Moving along, you also want to make sure your headline attracts as many viewers as possible. Similar to when creating the perfect headline for a blog post, you want to take time to craft a headline for your Reddit post that intrigues your audience and tells them what they’ll get out of clicking through to the full article.

As should be clear by now, redditors are well-versed in all things internet. They’ve seen every clickbait headline known to man.

Don’t do it.

No matter how valuable your full piece is, no self-respecting redditor will click something with the phrase “you won’t believe what happened next!” in it. Use clickbait, and you can expect to get downvotedwhether your audience members actually clicked on your post or not.

What About Advertising on Reddit?

All throughout this article, we’ve made it a point to drill home the fact that coming across as a marketer on Reddit is all but a death sentence for your company.

So how are you supposed to get away with actually posting paid advertisements on the site?

Well, the reason we left this for last is because you need to make sure you’ve done everything else right up until the point that you begin thinking about posting ads on Reddit.

Once you’ve been accepted into a subreddit community, you at least have a bit of leverage when it comes to selling your products or services to other community members.

(Who would you trust more with your money in the real world: a long-time town resident who you’ve known and respected for years, or the new guy who just moved in last week from parts unknown?)

As long as you’re fully confident that you won’t face backlash from posting an ad to your most-frequented subreddit, it’s worth giving it a go.

The three ways you can go about advertising on Reddit are:

  • Sponsored Posts: These will be pinned to the top of the subreddit of your choice at a cost of $0.75 CPM (with a minimum purchase amount of $5). You can choose to either post link to external content, or to a full-length text post on that subreddit.Example of a Reddit ad
  • Display Ads: If your advertising budget can handle it, display ads on Reddit work just as they do on any other site – with one addition: users can seamlessly upvote and downvote your ad, and even generate discussions about them, as well. To post these type of ads, you’ll need to speak directly with the Reddit team (rather than simply fill out billing info).Example of a display ad on Reddit
  • Sponsored Q&A: Similar to Reddit’s famous (or infamous) Ask Me Anything sessions, sponsored question and answer forums allow you to set up a specific time in which you’ll provide answers to your target audience’s burning questions regarding your product, service, or industry as a whole. Again, to set up a sponsored Q&A session, you’ll need to collaborate with the Reddit team to determine how long you’d like the session to last, and which subreddits the session will be posted to.
    Barack Obama reddit ama example

When actually creating content to be advertised on Reddit, the ground rules remain the same:

  • Provide ultimate value: As we’ve said time and again, redditors hate marketers – unless you can truly provide them something that will drastically improve their lives in one way or another. If there’s ever a time to share the absolute best you have to offer, this is it.
  • Be real: Be honest with your intentions: you have something of value to sell, and you want your community to know about it. Also, be personable and true to your audience. If you truly are a part of the community, others will likely be more than happy to share their hard-earned cash with you if they trust you’ll give them something incredible in return.
  • Learn from the experience: If you take the leap into advertising on Reddit and it doesn’t go as well as you’d hoped, don’t turn tail and run. Address your audience’s concerns, respond to negative comments, and figure out what you can do better the next time. Redditors want to know their voices are being heard; if you tweak your campaigns to fit their needs, they’ll most likely forget all about the negative experiences of the past.

Even if you do see success with advertising on Reddit, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Continue to share other content as you normally would, and reserve paid posts for when you have a major announcement to make, such as a product release or change in services provided.

Ready to Start Driving Traffic With Reddit?

If you’ve never actually used Reddit before, you might be under the misconception that it’s all memes and silliness.

While it certainly has its fair share of ridiculous content, Reddit can also be an incredible source for marketers and entrepreneurs in terms of generating traffic and staying up with current industry trends.

Now, all that’s left is for you to start building up that karma.

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