Learning How To Sell On Reddit, 4 Lessons with Louis CK

by Jesse Aaron on Nov 13, 2013

reddit marketing

Reddit is undeniably an intimidating and sometimes foreign social space.

It definitely did not help Amy’s Baking Company when they had their Facebook meltdown. Cheery Woody Harrelson managed to enrage Reddit users by marketing his movie on the platform.

And even geek royalty like Kevin Rose can screw up by not learning the rules of the game on Reddit.

Yet, as 2014 nears, the site branding the title “front page of internet” can boast the following stats:

reddit stats

Getting a link submission on the front page of Reddit yields incredible potential, both in terms of exposure and generating sales.

Acknowledge The Mountain

However, there are two over-arching obstacles most marketers face when attempting to achieve this:

  1. The Reddit community is generally biased in their content preferences, primarily leaning towards humor/memes, inspiring/captivating images, nostalgia, liberal news, gaming, interesting and/or celebrity AMAs (live Q&As), and technology.
  2. The Reddit community has a keen eye for marketers/PR practitioners and will massacre any attempts to blatantly promote a brand/product.

Learn The Ropes

These factors make Reddit unappealing at first glance; but fortunately, there is a learning curve.

Part of this learning curve involves changing the way we think about social media marketing – at least with Reddit as the medium. On Reddit, we need to understand the community and/or sub-communities (known as subreddits) we’re targeting, including the social norms and preferred content.

After understanding these values, we must also shift our goals from promoting to engaging.

Instead of thinking, “How can we sell?”

We should be thinking, “How can we help?”

By providing real value to the Reddit community, responding to comments with honest help, and mentioning a product or brand only when appropriate, we can see positive ROI.

The famous comedian, Louis CK, has performed multiple AMAs on Reddit, and is a prime example of how to properly engage the community. While he does command a cult following that basically ensures his success on any social media channel, highlighting his social mannerisms and product drops help us understand how to maximize Reddit as a Redditor –not a marketer.

Here are 4 vital lessons from Louis CK on Reddit

#1 – Disclose information right off the bat

louis ck ama tagline

Alright, so immediately Louis discloses information about his product; a new standup special. There are two reasons a disclosure like this is successful on Reddit:

  1. He is offering a product that would normally sell for around $20 for an insanely low price. What’s more, it’s easily accessible right on his site.
  2. His massive cult following already supports his content.

Let’s reflect this onto a marketing perspective:

  1. Identify a pain point (such as a demand for a cheaper product) and disclose an exclusive offer for Reddit. You should not disclose any personal information; however, you should let redditors know you’re a sales/community representative for the brand. You should refer to a particular post where redditors expressed a desire for your offer.
  2. If your brand already has a strong following, even a dozen can make a post successful. Ask your subscriber list if any of them are redditors and if so, what they’d like to see from your brand on Reddit. Just ask them!

#2 – Be yourself

louis ck joke

Simply being yourself satisfies the expectations redditors have when they comment.

And they do have expectations.

If you’ve disclosed you’re a sales rep they aren’t expecting you to crack jokes like Loius CK, but they are expecting you to prove you’re not just another flak speaker.

Redditors want to know you’re a redditor.

This means answering questions in a conversational tone – and slipping in some light humor can’t hurt either. You can go above and beyond their expectations by writing detailed and valuable responses that are helpful or educational. In turn, this reflects positively on the brand you hope to promote, and reassures redditors your product is worth checking out, at the very least.

#3 – Strategize a social media promotion

louis ck

via Forbes/AP

Louis CK is not just a brilliant comedian. He also has a knack for making smart business moves and recognizing the potential of emerging platforms.

As we previously saw in the first example, Louis was promoting his $5 digital download.

louis ck promo

This download was doing more than providing a sweet deal for his fans. This download stripped the normal business model of a middleman and higher prices. Instead, it defied all popular ticket-distributing platforms, and operated solely on his website.

He followed up by hosting the AMA (previously mentioned) and netted the following:

  • $4.5 million in sales in just 45 hours.

This tactic leads right into the fourth lesson:

#4 – Don’t focus on big money; please your fans and the money will come

As Louis and many news outlets have noted, this strategy actually nets him less money.  By cutting the middleman and standing against the Ticketmaster model, his ROI lessens.

However, ROI is relative to the values you’re expecting. Louis understands the value of brand loyalty and how it quantifies.

As marketers, if we primarily focus on pleasing fans and fostering a community, we’ll inevitably drive sales. Referrals are relative to brand disposition.

His fans even dedicated a subreddit to him.

But let’s get back to viewing this from a marketing perspective.

Posting on Reddit is much different from Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.  You have little influence masked behind anonymity and all of your content is up for public judgment.

But here are some ways you can take action:

  • Join a subreddit that relates to your brand. For example, a construction software company could get involved in the construction subreddit.
  • Study subreddits by paying attention the most successful content, highlighting major themes, preferred media forms, and social norms.
  • Comment on posts by answering or asking questions. Offer a perspective that is unique to your position and brand. If someone ever asks for additional information, you can always send them a private message offering more disclosure. Essentially, you’re harvesting a lead by providing free customer service.
  • Try submitting posts in a niche subreddit based on the research data you’ve collected. This helps develop a better understanding of how redditting works.

Just like any new marketing endeavor, there is a learning curve. By investing the time needed to understand and market on Reddit, the potential to fuel various business pipelines opens up.

Here are 10 ways to maximize Reddit for business, such as testing new products and increasing brand disposition.

Thanks for reading!

What are your tips for successful marketing and/or communication on Reddit?

Post Author

Jesse Aaron is a community manager at WebpageFX, has a passion for homebrewing, and writes on a variety of topics on his blog, Mashbout....

  • http://www.twitter.com/ryancohn Ryan Cohn

    Thanks Jesse! Great info.

    Found these two tidbits especially interesting: “The Reddit community has a keen eye for marketers/PR practitioners and will massacre any attempts to blatantly promote a brand/product.” and “You should let redditors know you’re a sales/community representative for the brand.”

    We’ve encouraged our staff and interns to get active on Reddit, it’s even become a question in hiring interviews. Would love to get more opinions on if disclosure is necessary 100% of the time, and what conditions should be met in doing so.

  • http://socialfresh.com/blog Jason Keath

    This reminds me a lot about how the Wikipedia community reacts to marketers editing wiki content for clients. Reddit is a little more rabid when protecting their community, but both loathe marketers and using “outsiders” using their platforms to sell something.

    Great writeup Jesse. Thanks for the breakdown.

  • treb072410

    Great information being shared here.. Thanks for sharing Jesse..

  • Edward Young

    As a long time redittor and not so long time marketer, this was pretty accurate. I would add a couple things to #2 and that is to show that you and your brand is flawed and makes mistakes like everyone else. A little self depreciating humor can go a long way. Nothing ticks me off more than a brand pretending to be a perfect and innocent goodie-two-shoes. It brings out the personal investigator in us to dig up more dirt.

  • http://socialfresh.com/blog Jason Keath

    Great tip Edward. I think JetBlue does this really well on Twitter and it is even more important on Reddit.

  • Jesse Aaron

    Thanks Edward, you’re spot on. I know exactly what you mean, the worst is when PR folk mask AMAs, thinking their generic answers will be enough to promote whatever movie/album/book – until the pitchforks come out!