Reddit was launched by two University of Virginia students in 2005. A year later, Condé Nast, the venerable magazine publisher, purchased a majority stake in the site. Fast forward to 2023, and the founders are long gone. The site has roughly 430 million monthly users and has raised $1.3 billion from investors, per Crunchbase. Annual revenue is approximately $400 million, according to The Information, which also reported the company aims to go public in 2023 at a hope-for valuation of $15 billion.
Reddit is a juggernaut, in other words.
Yet businesses often overlook Reddit’s marketing potential, deferring to Facebook, Instagram, and other social media suspects. Now Reddit’s relaunch of its advertising proposition is prompting marketers to take a fresh look.
Reddit’s home page consists of trending and popular posts originating in subreddit communities. Over 100,000 of those communities are active, per Reddit, each with its own volunteer moderators and house rules.
Reddit automatically subscribes new members to popular subreddits and offers suggestions when setting up an account. Followed subreddits appear on users’ home pages. Posts within those subreddits receive up- or downvotes from members. Upvotes to a post elevate its visibility and that of the author.
Popular subreddits include “Today I learned” (r/todayilearned) and “Ask Me Anything” (r/IAmA). Participants in the latter include more or less all demographics — presidents (Obama), CEOs, factory workers, more — that answer seemingly any question. There are subreddits for thousands of topics — marketing, crafts, make-up, automobiles, and more. There’s even a subreddit to help find a subreddit (r/findareddit).
Reddit has revamped its advertising offers in recent years and focused on creating a more welcoming community. However, it’s one of the few social media sites that allow anonymous members. The result is often vocal, candid, and even insulting posts and comments. This, combined with controversial topics, jokes, and Reddit-specific jargon, presents daunting challenges for brands.
Nonetheless, Reddit’s passionate and engaged audience offers paid and organic opportunities to merchants. Success depends on authenticity and honesty and taking the time to understand the peculiarities of the platform and targeted subreddit communities.
Advertising is the safest way for businesses to get involved on Reddit. The company revived its ad offerings at the end of 2022 with the launch of Reddit for Business. Historically the platform has received much less ad revenue than, say, Facebook and Instagram. Thus competition and ad rates are often lower.
Reddit’s ads are in-line with standard posts and come in five types: text, images, videos, carousels, and “conversation placements.” Advertisers can choose cost-per-impression, cost-per-view (video), or cost-per-click.
A key benefit of Reddit advertising is the targeting options, which are interest-based rather than demographic. There is likely a subreddit(s) for most every industry and product niche.
Building a presence on Reddit is not for the faint-hearted. Engaging organically is a longer play where linking to a brand is frowned upon and done only when relevant. You’ll need to become familiar with the house rules and posting formats of target subreddits.
Reddit’s guidance here is to build up an individual profile rather than a brand, stating, “It’s perfectly fine to be a Redditor with a website; it’s not okay to be a website with a Reddit account.”
One way this could work is by sharing your expertise on the r/smallbusiness subreddit, where you could also ask the community for feedback on your online store.
Other tactics include posting discounted offers on the various deals and coupon subreddits (e.g., r/coupons) or running an Ask Me Anything. A word of warning: be ready to be asked absolutely anything!
Another option is creating a subreddit around your brand — such as r/Gymshark — provided your brand fits the Reddit audience. Otherwise it’s a wasted effort.