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Advertising on Reddit: An Online Shop Guide to Success

14.06.2022, 12m

Advertising on Reddit can be a challenge. Although it may not have the visual appeal of other social media networks, the fact that Reddit is the self-proclaimed “front page of the internet” means there should be plenty of opportunities for marketers to get attention. Today, let’s explore some ways for your business to benefit from Reddit.

Index:

  1. What is Reddit?
    1. How does Reddit work?
    2. Why should your business care about Reddit?
  2. Do’s & Don’ts of selling on Reddit
    1. Humanise yourself with authentic participation
    2. Consider the “culture” of the subreddit
    3. Types of posts for selling on Reddit
    4. Don’t be a shill
    5. Reddit Ads
  3. More tips
    1. Reddit Language
    2. Reddit Tools
    3. Subreddits that are okay to blatantly promote your products

What is Reddit?

By now you probably know that Reddit is social network. So how does it work and why should you care?

How does Reddit work?

Reddit is a place where users share news or other content. Once something is shared, other users can upvote (or downvote) the post, which effects its “ranking” and visibility for other users to see it. Every post has a comments section, which is often treated as a forum of sorts. Comments can also be upvoted and downvoted to effect its ranking.

Reddit is broken down into “subreddits”, which are essentially pages dedicated to certain topics. All posts that are published must be posted under a specific subreddit. These subreddits can be for all kinds of topics, whether it’s funny memes or world news. For example, you have a subreddit dedicated to silly dogs (r/WhatsWrongWithYourDog) while others are dedicated to serious topics like world news (r/WorldNews).

people using reddit

Source: shutterstock.com/Julia Tim

What’s important to keep in mind is that these subreddits are your access to your communities. Unlike most other social media platforms, Reddit users don’t typically “follow” other reddit users (it is possible, but not very common). Therefore, being active in these subreddits is important for connecting with your audience.

These subreddits work almost like a hashtag system on Twitter or Instagram. Users can choose which subreddits to follow. Users who have a reddit account can customise their “front page”, which is essentially a newsfeed that displays the top posts from the subreddits they follow.

screenshot reddit front page

Users who create posts or comments, get “karma” for every upvote (or downvote) they get from other users. It may not seem like much to get these karma points, but it is a sign that users are not “bots” and give users credibility among other users. Last but not least, users with high points within a community get better visibility on new posts that they publish.

Things go a bit deeper than that, but those are the basics of what reddit is and how users interact with the platform.

Why should your business care about Reddit?

As a business owner, you should care about Reddit because it is extremely popular. Since Reddit is so diverse in shared content, it can be a great way to get in touch with your audience, no matter which demographic you’re focused on.

It is the 9th most visited website in the US, and 19th worldwide. Average time spent on the site is just over 10 minutes, which is on par with Facebook and Twitter, but well above the seven minutes spent on Instagram.

Having said all that, Reddit communities can be very protective of their subreddits. Therefore, selling on reddit is not quite as simple as signing up and hopping into communities to promote your products.

Most subreddits have mods (i.e. moderators) who keep an eye on the quality (and relevance) of posts. If you’re not careful, you can get blocked out of those communities and maybe even alienate potential customers for being too markety.

So, what can online shop owners do to use Reddit to boost sales?

Do’s and don’ts of selling on Reddit

Since Reddit is a finnicky platform when it comes to promotions, here are some things to keep in mind when trying to sell on Reddit.

Humanise yourself with authentic participation

Redditors can be extremely protective of their communities. Having someone jump in to blatantly promote their products is a real turn off. Therefore, you should consider making an account with an actual first name as well as the brand in the username (e.g. if you work for “Cupcakes4All.com”, make a user account called John-Cupcakes4All).

Once you’ve made your account, you’ll want to build some credibility before you even think about promoting anything. This means you should get involved in the community in an authentic way. That could, for example, mean giving free advice to other redditors.

For example, if someone in r/baking asks a question about how to get their muffins fluffier, you can give some advice to them. At the end of your post, you might even validate your advice by giving some “credentials”. It might look something like this:

It sounds like you’re not using enough baking powder for the amount of dough you’re making. Try adding another teaspoon to the mix.

Source: I've worked at a commercial baker for 10+ years.

By giving out free advice, you humanise the account and show that you actually want to participate in the community and not just sell your products. Depending on the context of the post and subsequent comments, this could lead to some direct messages or follow-up comments.

Not only will this score you points with the community figuratively, but if it’s good advice, you’ll literally score those upvotes we talked about earlier. A higher karma score on Reddit means you’re more trustworthy.

Download 9 ways to win customer trust checklist

Consider the “culture” of the subreddit

Reddit is almost the definition of a social media platform built for niches. As subreddits are dedicated to very specific topics, you can probably imagine that these subreddits can be very different from one another.

With that in mind, get comfortable with the subreddit you’re interested in before you start posting. Go through some older posts and see what posts inspire engagement from other users. The comments section will tell you a lot about that particular community and what makes a post/comment acceptable or not.

Every subreddit will have a set of rules regarding posts as well, so make sure you double-check that before you start creating your own posts.

rules of gaming subreddit

You can find the rules of every subreddit on the right side of the feed.

To discover subreddits, make sure to check the sidebar in the subreddits you already follow. There is usually a section there with recommended subreddits that are similar to the one you’re in. Also, pay attention to the comments section. Sometimes, users will share or recommend another subreddit there.

ads in reddit communities

In the example above, you can see that a brewery is advertising in the r/Golf subreddit (both in the feed and in the sidebar). You can also find the "Related Communities" section to find other subreddits that may contain a similar audience.

Types of posts for selling on Reddit

Once you’ve familiarised yourself with the right subreddits, Reddit allows users to publish all kinds of posts. That includes all kinds of media, such as images, GIFs, links to articles, and videos. You can also create polls for users of a certain subreddit to take part in. You can even participate in an open forum Q&A, referred to as AMAs (Ask Me Anything) – more on that later.

The point is that Reddit allows you to use all kinds of media to share with your communities, so the possibilities are quite endless.

Industry niches might be the obvious route when it comes to choosing subreddits to post on. However, if you own a physical shop, you should consider posting/commenting in local subreddits like r/Manchester or something. Most big cities have their own subreddit.

Recommended reading: Digital Strategies to Boost Foot Traffic to Local Businesses

Don’t be a shill

Although there are opportunities to be had through original posts and comments, it’s important to remember that Reddit users can be very uptight about being sold something. Reddit is not like Instagram, where many users actually use the app in order to discover products. Reddit is more of a forum and a channel for conversations. Therefore, it’s not really recommended to create a post with an obvious intent to sell the product.

If you do come across a customer video that is authentic, you might want to reach out to them and see if they can share it on reddit. Remember, reddit users don’t really like being sold to, especially if you’re trying to be sneaky about it. In fact, there is a whole subreddit dedicated to calling out other reddit posts that seem like sales pitches (r/HailCorporate).

woman ignoring man in window

Redditors can sense when you want to sell them something
(Source: Shutterstock.com/Antonio Guillem)

Alternatively, you can also leave comments that highlight your company or product when appropriate. Again, if you promote your product in a reply that has nothing to do with the original comment, you’ll get downvoted. However, if your product really fits the situation, it can be upvoted. Obviously, this will require some judgment on your side, but try to think like a consumer before your post. Ask yourself, “is this actually useful to anyone reading this thread?”

Creatives and artists (e.g. graphic designers, photographers) probably have the easiest time picking up new customers/clients through Reddit posts. They can easily disguise their self-promotion as just wanting some praise and feedback on some art they’ve created. They can simply post the image, mention they’re inspiration and wait for someone to inquire about their business.

For other types of companies, you’re more likely to see success on reddit by giving genuine advice and stating your credentials rather than directly trying to sell your products, just like in the example above with the cupcakes.

All in all, the golden rule of reddit: Aim to contribute value with every action and consider the community first.

Reddit Ads

Just like many other social media platforms, you can go the organic route, but you can also go the paid route. Reddit Ads can also be a viable option for you.

As you might imagine, subreddits are the primary way of targeting your audience. One might argue this is a better targeting option than other platforms where you often follow real people. Knowing what a user’s interests are can be much more insightful than knowing which celebrities they follow.

social media reviews

Reddit offers advertisers a variety of options, from where the ad is placed to what your goals are.

When it comes to placement, Reddit breaks down their ads into two categories: Takeover ads and Auction ads.

With Takeover ads, the general theme is about placing an ad at the top of a page, whether it be the front page, on searches or on popular pages. These ads are priced on a CPM (cost per thousand) basis, meaning you’ll be paying for views rather than clicks. This can be great for brand awareness campaigns.

With Auction ads, you’ve guessed it, there’s a bidding system. You’ll have the option to post images, texts, videos, or carousels. Bid types include CPM, CPC (cost per click), and CPV (cost per view), which is used for videos. These ads usually blend into users’ feeds. The ads can also appear right above the comment section of a particular post.

To learn more about Reddit Ads, check out their overview page.

More tips

We’ve covered some of the basics of reddit marketing. Let’s jump in a bit deeper. Here are a few more tips and tricks to learn about reddit marketing.

Reddit Language

It seems like every social media channel comes with their own set of buzzwords and terminology. Reddit is no different. Of course, some subreddits will have their own slang words and acronyms, but that is often more dependent on the industry/niche than anything else.

Having said that, let’s look at a few of the most popular terms you’ll see in posts as well as in comments. We’ll skip upvotes, downvotes and karma, since we already covered those:

OP (original poster): This is a common expression used in the comments section. It is used to refer to the person who shared the post.

Mod (moderator): Basically, every subreddit has a group of moderators who enforce the rules of the subreddit. They have special powers of deleting posts/comments and banning users.

TIL (Today I learned): Many posts will begin with this acronym. It is used when the poster thinks they are sharing something that may not be common knowledge for other users. It can be used very flexibly. For example, you might see it when someone shares an interesting bit of history or a tip for using a common item in a way that is not obvious. If done in a clever way, this can be used in a Reddit Ad to gain some extra attention. There is even an entire subreddit dedicated to TILs (r/todayilearned).

AMA (Ask me anything): As mentioned before, these are usually live open forum style posts where users are encouraged to ask an “expert” about their expertise. Of course, it’s not limited to experts; it can simply be someone who experienced something unique. You might see someone who opened a business for 100 bucks who wants to share their story, but you might also see someone who survived a shark attack.

Of course, there are probably other expressions missing from this list, but once you’ve spent a couple hours in your relevant subreddits, you’ll figure out the rest relatively easily.

Reddit tools

Like many social media platforms, there are tools out there to help businesses succeed.

Notifier is a tracking tool that helps you track your brand mentions, keywords, and even your competitors’ mentions. It can notify you whenever new posts come up so you can respond (or just observe) right away.

Later for Reddit is a tool that offers a few features including scheduling posts. However, the feature that stands out most is the insights into subreddits. You can simply enter the name of a subreddit, and the tool will provide insights regarding the best time to post in that subreddit.

Subreddits that are okay to blatantly promote your products

Well, there aren’t too many to recommend here. Most subreddits that allow such self-promotion are essentially deal-finding subreddits. Therefore, it really only makes sense to post here if you’re having a sale and know your offer is actually valuable for fans of that product.

For example, you could post on r/deals whenever you have a good deal. Another somewhat popular subrredit is r/DealsReddit.

Reddit is becoming more and more popular in international markets, so make sure you look into specific subreddits for your region.

If you have a really unique product (or even a unique cause behind your product), you can post it in r/shutupandtakemymoney, the subreddit dedicated to products that may just be irresistible to certain consumers.

Recommended reading: How to Start Selling Online with a Single Product

Conclusion

Reddit can be a great tool for reaching out to your target audience. Just remember that Reddit marketing can be tricky, but if done right, can bring your business lots of benefits. Follow our trips and you’ll be sure to find success.

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