Leverage Reddit for Organic Brand Growth & Loyal Fans

March 29, 2024

Leveraging Reddit for Brand Growth: Essential Insights and Strategies

Where are all my Redditors out there? You can usually find us in the /r/marketing subreddit, picking up best practices and answering questions that pertain to marketing challenges. Once dubbed “the front page of the internet,” Reddit has become a pivotal platform for savvy marketing strategies, offering a highly engaged, eclectic user base spanning millions globally.

Because the platform is so community-driven, Reddit offers a unique avenue for brands to foster organic growth and cultivate a loyal fan base.

Today, we are looking at how brands effectively utilize Reddit’s unique community features, from subreddits to AMAs (Ask Me Anything), for marketing, research, strategizing and amplifying while also navigating its challenges.

Understanding Reddit’s Landscape

Reddit is unlike other brand-name social platforms in that it’s exclusively community-driven. This structure is its lifeblood, comprising numerous communities known as subreddits, each dedicated to niche interests—with no niche being too small. Of course, there are broad topics like technology and science but there are some wildly specific ones, too, such as /r/spicypillows, a subcommunity dedicated to batteries that have become swollen over time. All posts on Reddit originate in a community—or subreddit—and a user’s main homepage feed is a collection of new or hot posts from the subreddits you join.

Engagement is primarily through upvotes and downvotes, allowing content to be democratically surfaced. For brands, this means an opportunity to engage organically by contributing valuable insights and content tailored to each subreddit’s unique audience—or by simply being a researching voyeur and seeing what these communities are interested in.

Real-World Successes on Reddit

Several brands have harnessed Reddit to remarkable effect, employing strategies that resonate well with its community-centric ethos. At COHN, over the years we have used Reddit to amplify our blog views, engage communities for strategic insights, and (carefully) promote our clients in relevant subcommunities. As we will discuss later, it’s imperative that all unpaid marketing activities on Reddit come from a place of authenticity. Self-promotion will almost always be deleted, and in some cases, will even get you banned from a subreddit.

Of course, the most obvious examples of marketing successes are AMAs, where a notable personality begins an “Ask Me Anything” thread and answers as many questions as she or he can in a given time period. This can be a lightning rod for the right personality, but more often than not, AMAs usually die on the vine.

Overcoming Reddit’s Challenges

For better or worse, Redditors are fiercely protective over their platform, and their subreddits. This can present a challenge for brands, such as negative feedback and community backlash. Brands must navigate these with tact, prioritizing community norms and respectful engagement. A proactive approach involves monitoring brand mentions and responding thoughtfully to criticism, demonstrating a commitment to improving user experiences.

Most importantly, do not self-promote in a subreddit that does not allow self-promotion.

Engaging Content Strategies

Content that resonates on Reddit varies, from opportunities where brands can directly interact with the community to infographics that provide insightful data in an engaging format. Behind-the-scenes posts also offer a glimpse of a company’s operations, humanizing the brand. Tailoring content to reflect the brand’s identity while aligning with subreddit interests is key to effective engagement.

Reddit’s advertising platform offers another new avenue for brand visibility. Successful Reddit ads often feature compelling narratives and visuals that align with the platform’s ethos, emphasizing authenticity and community value. We at COHN have not yet trialed Reddit advertising, but we are very interested in trying it out, for the right client.

The Power of Community: A Kidney Story

In the fall of 2019, our founder and CEO Jeff Cohn was diagnosed with kidney disease. Needing a transplant urgently, he put several decades of marketing experience to good use in creating a marketing campaign to find a kidney donor. (If you’re curious, is still live for now.) Most of the COHN team was involved in brainstorming, conceptualizing, building and executing on this plan, through out-of-home billboards, media appearances both locally and nationally, digital/social media campaigns, and a very successful email campaign. All of these efforts led to many people contacting Jeff about being a donor, but one of the more interesting aspects of the campaign was a random posting on Reddit.

One of COHN’s employees who is active in the /r/Denver subreddit posted the following in the community:

“My boss, mentor and dear friend needs a kidney”
I’m fully expecting the mods to take this down, but I am trying to post this URL in any online community where I’m active. My boss, mentor and dear friend Jeff Cohn needs a kidney. Every article I read about altruistic kidney donation says you never know who might feel inspired to donate, so you should try the shotgun approach and tell every single person you know. This sub has been incredible to me, so I figured I would post it here and hope for the best. Thanks for listening.

Within hours, the post had dozens of comments and upvotes, and Jeff received many completed questionnaires. But the employee also got a series of DMs from people connected in the kidney world—one of whom said they were close, personal friends with Dr. Michael Rees, CEO of Alliance for Paired Kidney Donation and one of the architects of the Nobel Prize-winning kidney pairing algorithm. This single connection to Dr. Rees led the COHN team to better understand the ins and outs of this nuanced, niche world of kidney donation—and it eventually led to finding a kidney donor for Jeff (and actually, a new client for COHN in the process).

Reddit wasn’t part of our marketing strategy, and the post itself wasn’t polished or thought out. But this is the magic of Reddit. Probably due to the fact the post wasn’t polished, it actually thrived on Reddit. It was authentic and came from the heart and wasn’t overly self-promotional. It also paid respect to the Mods (Always respect the moderators and follow their rules!), and it was hyper-local and relevant.

This is the power of Reddit.

Innovations and Opportunities

Reddit’s platform also serves as a fertile ground for market research, offering unfiltered insights into consumer opinions and trends. Brands can harness this for product development and positioning. Maintaining an authentic voice while aligning with marketing strategies involves balancing promotional content with genuine community contributions, ensuring a brand’s presence is valued and not viewed as intrusive.

Approaching Reddit with a strategic, community-first mindset is crucial for brands aiming to leverage this platform for growth. By understanding and respecting the unique dynamics of Reddit’s communities, brands can foster genuine connections, drive engagement, and cultivate a loyal customer base, unlocking the full potential of Reddit for organic brand growth.

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