Getting your website on to the front page of Reddit can easily net you hundreds of thousands of visitors. The site that started as a hangout for geeks and techies has become one of the most powerful social bookmarking sites on the internet.
This incredible power goes a lot of ways though. Companies have been made and even broken by single Reddit posts. Just because you get to the front page is not always a good thing. Campaigns that started on Reddit have crippled businesses and ruined people’s reputations for years to come.
With this in mind, you must carefully consider your posts and even your very intentions for making a post on the site. Below you’ll find the best practices on how to best leverage Reddit and get a good ROI without hurting your business.
What is Reddit?
Reddit is a social bookmarking site that started in 2005 as a startup by Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian, as part of the Y Combinator series of startups. At first it was a somewhat successful social network that appealed to tech-savvy users, including programmers and system administrators.
A user would post a link and other users would vote on that link. The highest voted link would show up at the top. This meant that only the most interesting stories showed up at the top.
The site slowly grew until it was purchased by Conde Nast. Reddit saw its largest growth happen when Digg, a similar social bookmarking site, switched to ‘Version 4,’ something many of its users considered a failure. Hundreds of thousands of members of the site left in waves to join Reddit.
After being mentioned in major news sources including The Daily Show with John Stewart, the Colbert Report and more, its popularity grew by incredible amounts which helped solidify its position as ‘The Front Page of the Internet.’
Here are some tips on how to get the most out of Reddit:
Sites that get on the front page of Reddit usually receive a massive wave of traffic. This wave has been known to completely shut down servers and take down even major websites. This may sound incredibly exciting for any website owner, but when a site goes down it means no sales, making all the work you did to get to the front page meaningless. Make sure that you plan ahead by researching the capacity of your web servers to ensure that your site can potentially handle a huge spike in visitors.
Use a Subreddit
Reddit is built on top of ‘subreddits.’ While Reddit itself has one front page with the top voted stories on the site, subreddits are individual pages that have to do with certain topics. Subreddits vary in size and popularity and can have information ranging from technology subreddits to baking subreddits. There are no real numbers on just how many subreddits exist but it is estimated in the hundreds of thousands.
Many business owners want to get the most traffic possible, so they tend to focus on the largest subreddits such as r/funny or r/pics. While these subreddits have large audiences it is MUCH more difficult to get noticed. Most things that get posted to these subreddits disappear with only a couple clicks and not a single up vote.
If you pick a subreddit with too few people though, you are limiting the amount of traffic you can possibly get. Plus, the front page of Reddit only has posts from a very specific group of subreddits called ‘default subreddits.’
This really breaks down into two different strategies: You can either opt for the larger subreddit and hope you have content that can appeal to a larger more general audience and that your headline and idea are good enough to grab people’s attention; or have more specific content that appeals to an individual subreddit, making it easier to get noticed and possibly get more traffic. The smaller subreddits are less of a gamble.
One way to find the subreddits for you is with the search function. Simply type in phrases that are related to your business to find stories related to your industry and look at the subreddits in which these stories are posted.
What to Post
There are two kinds of posts you can make on Reddit: a link post or a self post. Link posts are pretty obvious; a self post is when you write text directly into Reddit to be read by the community. Self posts are meant more as communication and to ask questions, while link posts are meant to be links you find interesting.
The first instinct of most marketers would be to submit your site as a link post and hope people will find it, upvote it and cause an increase in traffic. If you don’t, at the very least you get another link added to your SEO portfolio.
Some of the most successful Reddit campaigns have come about because of incredible amounts of communication. Self posts and ‘AMA’s’ (which stand for Ask me Anything) have built large loyal audiences.
As a fun tidbit of information: Of the top voted posts ever on Reddit, 8 of the 20 are self posts, 12 are single photos and 0 of them are business sites. Reddit promotes communication and transparency.
If you must post a link whatever you do, do NOT link to the home page of your site with an obvious sales message. Post an actual piece of content that contributes something to the community. A blog post about an interesting idea or an infographic that shows a side of something people don’t expect could also work on Reddit.
Time of Day and Headline
Every so often, if you go to the comments section of a successful Reddit post, you’ll see someone claiming to have posted the same thing earlier but didn’t get nearly the level of votes. What these people never seem to ask is WHY their post didn’t get the same amount of votes.
The most obvious reason is the headline. A boring headline is easily ignored and no one will click on it or vote for it, while a clever headline will get you tons of attention.
A good headline is short and asks a question. Make sure you’re not giving away too much with a headline. When someone puts the punch line of a joke in their headline, they are giving readers an excuse to pass up clicking through the post. Make sure that you’re not putting the punch line (or most important bit of interesting information) in your headline.
The headline is kind of like an invitation to explore the content you have.
It’s also possible that the day of the week and time of day can affect how well your post does. The amount of people and the type of person on Reddit changes quite rapidly. You could post when high school students are just getting out of school and signing on or when older workers get home and want to relax by browsing the site. Different people will vote for different things at different times, so you will need to consider your intended audience when determining a time to post. We have noticed many web design articles going up early in the day to be shared with others throughout the duration of the day.
Tracking the results of your marketing campaign is absolutely essential. There are a few ways to track behavior from Reddit. The easiest way is to use the referral data given to you by Google Analytics. Simply go to the referrals section and see how many clicks you got from your post.
A more advanced method is to create an advanced segment based on traffic from Reddit. You can set the URL it comes from and see where on your site the traffic goes to, who they are, where they are from and more.
Reddit is Complicated
Even with all this information, I am just skimming the surface of Reddit. This network, like other social networks online, has its own sets of quirks, rules, advantages, and challenges. Those who are more familiar with the platform will likely have more success than those who have never been on it before. If you really want to leverage the kind of communication and traffic you can get from Reddit you should hire a company with social experience. For more information on this, contact us.