Reddit was founded in 2005 with the goal of serving as “the front page of the Internet,” where communities could share and vote on content representing a diverse set of sources and themes.
It’s a growing focus of attention in the daily lives of its users, attracting more than 70 billion page views and 55 million posts across over 8,000 active communities in 2014.
These communities, called subreddits, allow users with similar interests to focus their conversations around thousands of topics — everything from NHL hockey to books, philosophy, pop culture, and breaking local news.
Still, with all this growing attention, Reddit hasn’t been a destination where social media teams have focused a sizeable amount of attention, and for good reason. It’s still an emerging platform without many tools or offerings for brands. And it’s had its share of controversy over the past few months, with high-level executive turnover and content issues alike.
The question remains: should brands be looking at Reddit today?
Let’s take a look at the data behind a few aspects of the community to find out.
1. Branded Subreddits: Where Brand Loyalists Thrive
Let’s start by choosing a few communities where Reddit users are talking about brands in large quantities: the world of auto.
These communities include subreddits that span auto brands and models, swap tips on general car maintenance, and discuss new developments in the auto world. We can get a better idea of how these communities function through the lens of a major auto brand: The Ford Motor Company.
While there are rich collections of subreddits for major auto brands (like Nissan, Mazda, Chevy, and BMW), the Ford brand sees one of the largest collections of communities across their different nameplates and models. If we look at the reported subscribers for each subreddit, we can see that the Mustang and Ford boards are the most popular, but the conversations don’t stop there.
The power of Reddit is not just in numbers; its tight-knit communities are also highly engaged.
Let’s look at the Ford subreddit as an example.
The Ford subreddit has an average of 2+ posts/comments per month per subscriber, which is impressive by any social standard. And the Ford subreddit doesn’t even drive the best content creation rate of the group. The F150 subreddit enjoys a participation rate of 8.28 posts or comments per reader, per month.
What we’re seeing on Reddit is not just a group of followers or listeners, but instead a community of participation.
2. Auto Conversation on Unbranded Subreddits
In addition to the brand-focused subreddits, there are also a number of general automotive discussions happening at any time.
Users looking for car-buying advice, maintenance tips, or industry news read and subscribe to subreddits like Trucks, CarTalk, and SportsCars. While these discussions are about broader automotive categories, that doesn’t mean that brands aren’t being discussed within them.
We looked at 3 popular subreddits where car buyers are asking for guidance to see how many Ford vehicles received mentions.
Close to 10% of posts on the WhatCarShouldIBuy subreddit mention Ford, as do 8% of the responses in that community over the past month. Just around 5% of posts in the AskCarSales subreddit asked questions about Ford vehicles and dealerships in June.
So what’s the best go-forward plan for a brand in this situation?
The Reddit community isn’t very receptive to obvious advertisements, but a Ford representative who is well-versed in Ford culture and information — and who can communicate with honesty and integrity — could be welcomed in this community.
Many examples of this are already happening on the regional level.
For example, questions posted in the AskCarSales subreddit are answered from self-identified car salesmen from various dealerships. There’s no reason the right corporate-level voice wouldn’t be welcomed into the conversation as well, as long as brands don’t try to turn the conversation into an advertisement and keep their focus on adding genuine utility to the community.
3. Fashion & Beauty on Reddit: Checking the Labels
When looking at fashion and beauty discussions on Reddit, the communities that have formed show different patterns than our previous examples.
With fashion and beauty, there are not many brand-specific subreddits — almost all of the conversation on the network is happening in topic focused communities like MaleFashionAdvice and Sneakers. These general boards — while talking about style dos and don’ts, recommendations, and trends — include many brand references on a daily basis.
A quick look at a sample of 1,000 posts and associated comments from MaleFashionAdvice shows the following count of brand mentions:
Remember: just because communities on Reddit aren’t forming specific subreddits around your brand doesn’t mean they’re not talking about you.
Research industry conversations to find mentions of your brand and your competition.
Keep in mind also the value of a community where users are protected from direct brand influence. The depth and honesty of conversation Reddit can inspire is worth a brand’s resources spent monitoring it. But also remember that just because brands aren’t starting the conversation doesn’t mean influence is out of reach, even on Reddit.
Recommendations for Brands on Reddit
Now that the data has shown a healthy amount of brand conversation on Reddit, how can a company begin to build their strategy?
While different communities present different opportunities for brands, there are a few rules that you’ll need to stick to while designing your approach:
1. Add value to the Reddit community
The best way for a brand to make the most of Reddit is to help the community with answers, insight, and advice.
The community does not welcome sales pitches, so don’t come in with one. If you post commercials, you’ll quickly get the boot. Everybody knows what corporate jargon sounds like, and it doesn’t sound like a real human.
2. You’re a guest on Reddit; behave like one
Reddit is not an owned channel, so treat it that way. Identify yourself as a company representative, let people know why you’re there, and be open to feedback.
If you can answer questions with authority, you have the chance to meet members at critical decision points where your point of view can have a real impact.
3. Experiment with advertising on Reddit
There are limited advertising opportunities available across the site, but with the structure of subreddits across different topics, the targeting capabilities are strong for reaching groups with specific interests.
4. Monitor threads for patterns, questions, and issues that arise
Monitor both branded (Ford) and non-branded (CarTalk) boards for any mentions of your brands, products, or services. If an issue comes up where you can help out, great.
If you’re just looking to monitor high-level trends around your product set, you can accomplish that via some simple searches on a periodic basis through Reddit’s own search functionality.
This research is taken from the Spredfast Smart Social Report Volume 2, the free quarterly research designed to share insights on social with the industry. This quarter’s volume also includes research on social brands in the USA vs. Europe, a deep dive into the half-life of social content, and what we learned by looking at the data behind 50 top brands across 8 social networks.