Understanding Reddit and its community is the first step in leveraging the platform’s enormous audience.
Reddit’s reach is substantial, at one time having 135,000,000 unique visitors, 5,000,000,000 monthly page views, and visitors from over 200 countries. Roughly 6% of all online adults in the United States visit Reddit.
The self-proclaimed “front page of the internet” has clearly earned the title. Although people from all walks of life populate the website, as of 2013 its largest demographic was 18-29 year old males (15% of users according to a Pew study). To reach this valuable demographic, or any of the many microcosms within Reddit, marketers need to understand how the site works.
Reddit is essentially a collection of links to user-generated content or articles organized into categories called “subreddits”. The content is arranged based on a voting system; posts can be ‘up voted’ or ‘down voted’ by registered users. Users can also comment on posts, and their comments ranking within a thread is also based on the voting aggregation.
Popular content/comments float to the top while bad content sinks into obscurity. Fifty of the most popular subreddits are visible on the front page to unregistered users (known in the community as “lurkers”). These non-registered users just usually view the top 50 subreddits in fear of accruing negative karma. Karma simply refers to the total value of both upvotes and downvotes on a users account.
Registered users have the ability to subscribe to subreddits that interest them. There are over 340,000 subreddits, literally a subreddit for everything and anything. Each subreddit has its’ own active community, rules about what can be posted, and guidelines for commenting.
Rules are enforced by a group of volunteers within the subreddit called Moderators or “Mods”. These individuals can delete posts and comments that don’t abide by the rules.
Creating a Reddit account is simple. User profiles are not linked to any form of social media, so anonymity allows for the website’s free marketplace of ideas to thrive. But this doesn’t mean Reddit, and voting aggregation in general, are without flaws.
Groupthink, or what Reddit refers to as “Hivemind”, plays a big role in what is posted and the type of content that gets upvoted. According to a study by Social Media Researcher Sinan Aral of MIT and NYU, users that saw an extra upvote early in a comment’s lifespan could change their mind about how they felt about a comment, regardless of what it actually said.
Problems not withstanding, the website has generated huge sums of money for charitable causes such as Doctors without Borders, Hope for Haiti, Heart of Racing, etc. One of the more popular subreddits, AMA (Ask Me Anything), has proven to be a great platform for cause marketers to leverage the power of celebrities and shed light on a number of charitable causes.
In an AMA, a celebrity or public figure answers questions in a thread from users about, well, anything. Usually the celebrity in question will make a description outlining the charity, cause or project they are aligned with, and then some form of proof on social media that they are actually the ones answering the questions. These public interviews generate enormous levels of traffic, getting traditional media level exposure absolutely free.
If you are utilizing a celebrity for cause marketing and not considering Reddit, you could be missing out on an enormous amount of free publicity and potential donations.