Mining Reddit for Content Marketing Campaigns

Mining Reddit for Content Marketing Campaigns

Has your content run dry? Struggling to discover additional keywords to target? Finding content ideas, long tail keywords, and other low hanging fruit that might yield traffic and conversions is certainly an art form. Sometimes you just need to take a step back and look for inspiration instead of racking your brain for ideas.

But it is extremely important to note that where you look for this inspiration might influence how good your ideas will be. How does a good idea lead to success? People. They are the ones that will read, share, and ultimately buy or take action, so why not go straight to the source?  If you could get your target audience to collaborate on ideas for you, then you would know exactly what to put in front of them. This is where reddit becomes a very powerful source of inspiration and data for all of your content generating needs.

If you’ve never browsed reddit before, you might be surprised by the communities within its walls. Some are rather harsh, while others very peculiar. But after looking over the front page for just a few minutes, you will realize that there are a lot of people gathering to share and discuss. How many people? Well, they had over 112 million unique visitors on their website viewing more than a combined 5 billion pages in February alone. Yeah, there are a lot of people here.

Information pulled from this source is golden. It can be a perfect gauge for your own content in how successful it might be, and it can even give you some new ideas.

The Subreddit – Your Content’s New Best Friend

Once you are comfortable navigating this large community, try finding about five different subreddits that are related to your niche. What is a subreddit? Well, you probably entered the site on the front page. However, there are thousands of smaller communities within reddit that make up subreddits. Nearly every single niche and industry has its own subreddit. Within these smaller communities, you can expect engaging conversation and knowledgeable expertise on the topic at hand. This is where you want to be.

Don’t know where your subreddits are or how to find them? Try searching here.

But how might these subreddits aid with your lack of inspiration, creativity, and knowledge? Don’t worry, we got you covered.

Searching Reddit

A great first step for finding some quick ideas for content would start with a simple search. A reddit search can reveal top questions that users have about your niche or industry. Browsing around the search results might reveal ideas for blog posts and infographics, as well as long tail keywords to go after. From there, you can also narrow your results down by subreddit, date, or popularity. This gives you total control over your findings. There’s even some advanced searching syntax for really focused searches.

For example, we went ahead and searched for “smartphones” on reddit. it didn’t reveal much of anything besides the usual commentary, so we drilled it down to the gadgets subreddit. Things are looking a bit more interesting and specific now. We found a few topics about “PhoneBloks.” There isn’t much competition for this term, but monthly searches are well in the thousands. Entering some of the terms you find from reddit searches into Google’s Keyword Planner will reveal some hidden gems you may have never been able to find otherwise. Brian Dean gives some great advice for this idea as well (see #2).

If people like anything at all in a specific niche, they WILL talk about it. These might be subjects (keywords) that you may have never thought of and reddit is a great place to find them.

Timely Information

Just five minutes of looking around the site can reveal some super ideas that are sure to bring in some traffic. But it can also uncover some soon to be viral things that you will want for your site as soon as you can get it. Many news sites and viral marketing sites are constantly searching through this online community for the next big thing. If you are around reddit enough, you will begin to see popular stories within the community long before they are found by sites like Yahoo and Buzzfeed. If your brand needs to be on the cutting edge, this will give you the information you need for timely news that you can turn into additional content ideas.

A quick glance at /r/Worldnews in the “new” column reveals some of the biggest headlines that have only been released minutes beforeby gigantic sources like The New York Times and the Associated Press. Imagine getting minute by minute details about your industry’s biggest news stories. reddit has it.
Timely Information on Reddit

Ask Me Anything – Straight From the Horse’s Mouth

Another area for somewhat timely information is from a section called AMA. The “Ask Me Anything” subreddit is a place where people of authority or knowledge actually go on reddit and let anyone and everyone ask them a question. reddit users pose interesting questions and are often given equally interesting answers. Some of the most popular AMAs have been from individuals like President Obama, Bill Gates, and Bill Nye the Science Guy. Sometimes in really niche subreddits, popular figures known in their industry will do AMAs as well. For example, Rand Fishkin allowed anyone to ask him questions on /r/bigseo just a few months ago. It is the top link of all time on that subreddit so far!

This can be the perfect place to find a source for additional information about a topic relating to your content. Looking for some AMAs related to your niche? Try searching within the different niche subreddits for “AMA” or try out an advanced Google query like this one: keyword “AMA”

These areas are all great for finding some good ideas. But perhaps you would like to go a little deeper. You need to know more than just what content is doing well online. You also need to know the background of the individuals in your communities. This gives you the entire picture; the who, what, when, where, and why.

Fortunately, reddit provides the capability of using their data. There are several ways to scrape data from reddit that allow you to analyze your own niche’s behaviors. This will give you vital clues as to hot topics within the industry as well as things like timing for submissions. Not only will you find ideas for additional content, but you can learn from your communities behavior for proper marketing efforts. Applying the analysis of this data to your marketing campaigns can benefit your efforts throughout the entire process; not just content creation, but also in content promotion.

With some strategic spreadsheets and a little bit of magic, you can find some really valuable information for your business.

How to Scrape Reddit for Information

First things first: we need to get the data. One of the easiest ways we have found to do this is with a Google Spreadsheet from Digital Inspiration. This spreadsheet will get you started for scraping data from your niche’s subreddits. Follow the tutorial to get it working and we will show you the rest.

In case you are wondering, reddit does allow the scraping of its data. They don’t mind! Just keep these important rules in mind when scraping their data.

All set? No? Let me try to help. When you copy the doc, head on over to the script editor in the doc itself (Tools -> Script Editor…). This might look a little intimidating, but don’t worry. If you break anything you can re-copy the doc.

In the script for the doc you will see a few fields that you will want to change up. Your subreddit will replace the text inside the quotation marks on line 6: var REDDIT = “LifeProTips”

Alternatively, you can opt to use some of the more specific reddit url variables in order to only get the top submissions from the past year. Keep in mind that this script requires the xml format of the url you enter. Do this by editing the var url = area on line 18. In order to get the top posts from the past year from the front page of reddit, we changed the url variable around a little bit. Here is a snapshot of our script:

Script for scraping reddit

If this is over your head, then just stick with editing the first field at the top.

Data Received from Scraping Reddit

By doing this process above, we were able to find the top 3,200 posts from the past year from the front page of reddit. We could have gotten a lot more, but feared the volume of cat pictures and Jennifer Lawrence gifs. What exactly can we do with this? Well, there are a few key data points we can analyze that will be very useful:

  • Day of the week
  • Time of the day
  • Title length
  • Keyword density

These points can be applied to your own content. When are people online going to see it? What day of the week are they looking for it? How long should my titles be? What hot topics should I write about? What makes one post more successful than another?

It may not seem all that important, but these data points can actually give you several hints as to how or why your content does well.

Day of the Week

Finding the right day and time for posting is an age old question that never seems to go away, but it is an important one. What day of the week should I post or share my content? By analyzing your niches on reddit, you might be able to find some interesting trends.

Just from checking out the data we scraped from the front page of reddit, we found that the top posts varied throughout the week. There were some noticeable trends, though. By using some pivot tables in Excel, you can find this information fairly quickly. Here is a screenshot of a chart we made for the most popular days of the week for posts that made the top submissions for 2013.

posts per day of the week on reddit

As you can see, it is clear that Mondays have the top spot for popular submissions. It isn’t by much, but they occupied 21% of the top 3,200 posts. Tuesdays came in at 17% while Fridays obtained 16%. Not nearly as many posts made it to the top on Saturdays and Sundays. This is definitely something to chew on as you go about posting your content. Perhaps your audience is reading up during the work week. Knowing this simple fact can be the difference between hit or miss for promoting your content.

But there are other factors that might weigh in on the popularity of these submissions.

Time of the Day

Taking this same method of analysis, we applied it to the time of day. Surprisingly, a lot more people are on reddit during the daytime than you might think. See this graph that reveals what time of the day the top 3,200 submissions were posted to reddit.

Top reddit posts by time of day

110 submissions that landed in the top were posted at 8:30 AM. Then another 111 submissions at 12:30 PM. Odd how those were the highest points of the day. Generally speaking, the best times to post were between 6:30 AM and 6:30 PM. Popular submissions were posted between those times, and dropped off significantly before and after.

If your readers aren’t online during the evenings, don’t promote your content then. Finding the best time to share your content can have a huge impact on its success and how far it will reach.

Time of Day per Day of the Week

If you had to pick the best time to post, it would clearly be on Mondays at 4 in the afternoon. Drilling it down to submissions by time of day per day of the week provides another interesting view. Again, not much on the weekends and on Thursdays, but some spikes in the middle of the day on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday.

top reddit posts per time of day and day of the week

But wait, there’s more!

Title Lengths

This is a peculiar angle to look at when creating content. Does the length of your title predict the success of piece? No, probably not. But there seems to be some sort of correlation between popular content and title lengths.

top reddit posts title lengths

The majority of submissions tended to have a title length between 3 and 15 words where titles with 6 and 8 words had the top positions. Obviously your titles will start to get a bit out of hand if you are writing whole paragraphs for your reddit submissions. Titles have always been a mystery, but revealing the science behind some of it can help your content perform better. Perhaps your audience is more fact oriented and would prefer a more descriptive title rather than a catchy title used for viral social promotion.

Hot Topics and Keyword Density

Pick up your favorite keyword density tool and throw in all of the text in your titles column. We used this Excel spreadsheet to help us with this part.

This should spit out a bunch of junk, but in manually going through the data, you can begin to pick up on some more notable trends.

From the front page of reddit, you can see some interesting similarities between some of the posts. Sometimes it revealed hot topics from the year 2013 like “NSA” and “Snowden.” Other times it revealed popular words like “amazing” or “today.” Interesting how some buzzwords can help a post title.

Longer keywords included 14 submissions containing “Ask me anything,” the topic described above, and 8 instances of “a picture of.” This part of the data isn’t nearly as visual, but you can get a sense for what the community enjoys just by browsing some of these keywords and hot topics.

Knowing this allows you to make some assumptions about your readers. If they are totally engulfed in someone’s AMA, maybe you should try to act on that area of interest in your content creation. Or maybe there is a topic of great confusion you can shed some light on or compile together for your audience to reflect back on at later times.

What Are You Trying to Say?

We aren’t saying that from now on you should submit your posts to reddit on Mondays at 4PM with an 8 word title. Even if it is about the hottest topic and posted at the most perfect timing, that doesn’t mean it will become a big hit.

The data shared above were merely trends that we recognized. Trends do not predict the future; rather, they can just be signals for future occurrences. Do not just take away what was shared here and start submitting a bunch of junk to reddit. redditors do not like that and you will be downvoted into oblivion.

This data might be totally worthless to you. Perhaps those top submissions never had anything to do with timing, but merely had everything to do with good content. Good content WILL get noticed on reddit. But one can’t help but think that these trends still do indicate some sort of method that users have throughout the week.

What You Should Do

Instead of taking what was laid out above at face value, you absolutely need to do your own research. Every single subreddit is different. Scraping data for the front page was the best example for everyone. Applying these same findings to your own niche will most likely disappoint you.

Scrape the data from your niche’s subreddits and see what you can find. Again, this will show you some interesting trends that you might want to keep in mind while performing your next content marketing campaigns. However, this is no indication of future success. Some subreddits are very different from the majority of users on reddit. It might require even more analysis and trial and error before you find a working strategy.

Overall, you will probably find reddit to be an interesting place. It’s not only a place of information, but more importantly, it’s a community that usually knows what they want and when they want it. Content is generated and shared all over the place, but measuring the results can be difficult.

In summary, we recommend that you take a shot at analyzing your communities, where the people are at, in order to find and deliver the best content at the right moments. Your best ideas can come directly from your users, allowing your content to have as little risk possible. Ensuring your efforts with analysis of the people within your community is essential as well. Marketing your content requires more than hitting the submit button. Without knowing your target market’s behavior, you might as well be throwing all your hard work straight into the trash. Analyzing the data from your communities can provide you a wealth of information for creating content and knowing how to market it better. When used together, you possess a one-two punch content marketing campaign you can count on and not just another piece of content you have essentially hail mary-ed into the Internet.