Marketing Guides

The Basics of Reddit

The Basics of Reddit

Reddit functions differently from every other social network. We'll go over the basics here.

How Reddit Works

First, Reddit functions as a social link-sharing site. People find interesting information online (or make it themselves) and post it to Reddit.

Once there, a Reddit user can upvote or downvote the content, reflecting their opinion of whether that link is good or not. Upvotes and downvotes are shown to the left of the link's preview unless a particular subreddit (we'll get to those later) has turned them off.

As a link (or "post") gets upvotes, it becomes more visible. If it gets lots of downvotes, it gets buried under other posts.

Posts that get a lot of upvotes go to the front page, or the homepage that shows whenever someone first goes to Reddit. This is considered to be the pinnacle of success on Reddit, and it indicates that the link provides some kind of quality for Reddit users.

That quality could be entertainment, news, opinion, or practically anything else.

Those upvotes are then counted as "link karma," which indicates the quality of the content someone posts to Reddit. If someone has thousands of link karma, then they're probably a high-quality poster. If they have low karma, they're either users who don't post content ("lurkers") or bad posters.

There are two ways users can create posts: links and text.

Link posts often show a preview of the item that's linked.

Reddit Link Post Example

Text posts will show a general-use image of the Reddit mascot (Snoo) with an exclamation point beside him.

Reddit Text Post Example

Both of these posts can be upvoted or downvoted accordingly, but text posts don't contribute to a user's link karma. 

Reddit users can also comment on any post. These comments can also be upvoted or downvoted, just like the post itself. The comment with the most upvotes is shown above all the other comments in the post's comment section ("thread"). 

Upvotes on comments contribute to a user's "comment karma," which indicates the quality of the comments someone leaves on a Reddit post. It could also mean how much people agree with a certain user's opinions or points.

This simple system of individual contribution and votes is straightforward, but it makes marketing on Reddit exceptionally difficult. We'll talk about why a little later.

First, we need to discuss how Reddit is laid out as a site.

Reddit's Structure

Reddit's structure is strange. It's not a community, like YouTube, and it's not a profile-based network, like Facebook.

Instead, it's kind of a "community of communities."

These communities are called "subreddits," and you can access them by adding a few simple letters or numbers to the end of Reddit's URL.

So if you wanted to go to the subreddit about pictures, you would go to:

And if you wanted to see cute photos of animals, you would go to:

And, of course, if you wanted to learn more about digital marketing, you'd go to:

Most subreddits work on this simple naming system. You can also run across a few with strange names that have double meanings.

One subreddit — r/eyebleach — is one of those communities with a strange name. In this case, r/eyebleach users post photos of cute animals or pleasant imagery so people who just looked at gross or uncomfortable photos can "bleach" their eyes.

Reddit also has a system of "safety" that is uses to make sure users don't accidentally see inappropriate content.

This is done by flagging certain posts as "nsfw," or "not safe for work."

These posts could include drugs, alcohol, nudity, or other suggestive themes that make them unfit for the workplace. As you're using Reddit for marketing, it's important to be aware of these posts so you don't accidentally click one and bring up an embarrassing photo on your computer.

NSFW posts are best avoided in most corporate settings. There may be exceptions to that rule, but if you're ever using Reddit at work, don't click posts marked NSFW. 

But how do you post in the first place? After all, if you want to market on Reddit, you have to get your product up there for everyone to see.

To do that, you need to create an account.

Your Reddit Account

When you make a Reddit account, it's important that you choose a name that'll blend in with Reddit at large.

That means using your company name or the word "marketing" in your name is probably a bad idea.

Instead, pick something that reflects you as a person. Basically, make your own personal Reddit account based around your interests, and then use it to market occasionally.

Find the subreddits that interest you and subscribe to them. Unsubscribe from any of the standard subreddits that you don't like. Customize your account so you can more easily do whatever you want to do.

As a side-note, it's usually a good idea to subscribe to a subreddit if you ever plan to post in it. That gives you the time to note the behavior and tone of the subreddit itself, which is critically important to a post's success.

Building Your Account

Now that you have your Reddit account, it's time to use it.

Take a few weeks (some subreddits require you to have an account for 10 days before posting) and just absorb Reddit as you can. Carefully watch how people discuss topics and where people post new links. And, after a while, add a link to your own content somewhere on Reddit.

This content doesn't have to be from your company just yet — in fact, you should submit a few links and text posts without marketing first. That way, you can build a foundation of strong link karma and a small reputation.

Then, once you're ready, you can post about content on your website to direct traffic from a subreddit to your site.

Go Back         Before You Post to a Subreddit