One of the largest obstacles to adoption I see in people who’ve never heard of or used reddit is comprehending the deeper layers.
The layers underneath the cute pictures of animals, comics about atheism, and currently popular memes.
Earlier this month Alan Schaaf gave a TEDx talk in Wellington. Alan is the founder of Imgur, top 50 website; the most popular image hosting service/social community hybrid out there. In this short 9-minute talk, Alan walks us through his life and the stages and realizations it took for him first to conceive, and then grow his website. Half-way through the talk Alan makes a very insightful comment about the deeper layers of reddit:
Alan first introduces reddit as a social aggregation platform:
In its simplest form, reddit is a site where people can share links. People submit links to interesting things they find on the internet so that people can visit them. Each link is posted into a category called a subreddit.
And then goes on to explain these deeper layers:
It goes much deeper than that. Users of reddit – redditors – end up creating very thoughtful discussions in the comment sections. We’re not just visiting the link – we’re talking about it and sharing our experiences and opinions about the subject. Each subreddit turns into its own micro-community around the subject.
One of his last pieces of wisdom should really strike home to all the marketers out there:
If you’re not utilizing an online community, then you’re at a disadvantage to those who are.
Understandably, adjusting to the constant shifts in marketing can be tiresome, confusing, and strange. It’s hard to figure out how to drive traffic and leads to a site in any type of online social community, short of the traditional direct advertisement. A capital advisory firm or a small team of accountants may seem like the biggest mismatch for reddit to those who don’t understand the deeper layers; those who haven’t uncovered the plethora of finance-related subreddits:
In fact, the personal finance subreddit has over one million members. These subreddits are full of professionals and experts educating on money management, savings, investments, and more.
With over one million members the personal finance subreddit is a phenomenal opportunity for individuals/families to get high-quality answers to questions about budgeting, saving, and spending. So how would an accountant or investor at a firm approach marketing their services here?
For starters, you can’t just submit a link to your firm’s website and call it a day. You could do that if it was through reddit’s self-serve advertising platform, but if we took a moment to read around the subreddit we’d discover there’s a cheaper alternative:
This alternative provides our content-marketers with wiggle room for strategy. We could dig through the subreddit to see what type of advice and guides already exist, which are the most popular, and which questions are the most common. We could also ask the accountants or investors themselves about the most common questions they receive or what type of guide do they think would best serve the general public. For example, a guide on how tax reviews help us meet financial goals could be reposted to the subreddit in the form of a pure-text post (known as a ‘self-post’). In turn, we not only get a great piece of content on our own business blog, but we get to interact with a new community. Our in-house accountant or investor doesn’t have to worry about trying to plug anything – they can solely focus on answering questions, providing additional insights, and maybe even learning more themselves. Their rules allow us to include our blog name and a link to the post and they allude to the fact that if visitors are clicking through, it should be to learn more – the discussion stays on reddit. This generates referrals, and with the variety of redditors there’s always a chance a new client could be referred because a middleman was impressed by the quality of your post.
And this was just one example for one niche on reddit.
There are over 7,000 active communities! Most of which each has their own set of rules and even sub-layers of social etiquette. A quick glance to the sidebar of any subreddit will unveil any rules and expectations for new members of that community. By adhering to these rules, you’ll have a better experience on reddit and connecting with a new community.
The main takeaway I hope you receive is that there are alternative ways to market and extend your reach as a business, as a product creator, and as a thought leader. Some communities are more lenient, while others are explicitly strict. But most subreddits share and value a commitment to quality in the comments sections – the type of thoughtfulness Alan alludes to. This is what makes reddit un-simple, in a good way.
And here’s a short graphic I recently made about reddit sales & user statistics: