Eight tips for advertising successfully on Reddit


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For years, marketers have talked about Reddit. Depending on who you asked, Reddit has been the next big thing in digital advertising, or a mirage of epic proportions.

While the jury is still out, Reddit’s popularity can’t be disputed. Reddit is just as large as Twitter, if not larger following the latter’s fake account purge, and has far higher engagement. In fact, as measured by time spent per user per day, Reddit’s audience is more engaged than Facebook’s.

Marketing to that audience has proven challenging, and for a variety of reasons, many marketers have shied away from the service. But that’s changing as Reddit warms to its commercial side and aims to turn its popularity into an advertising cash cow.

For marketers finally ready to dip their toes in Reddit’s advertising waters, here are eight tips.

Use Reddit.

Marketers interested in the possibility of marketing through Reddit are wise to use Reddit. While the service has many characteristics that will be familiar to anybody who has used an online social networking platform, Reddit is still unique in many ways. 

Learning about Reddit’s nuances, including Reddit culture, is much easier when one actually becomes a Redditor. In fact, there’s an official Subreddit for Reddit advertisers – r/redditads.

Pick the right Subreddits.

Reddit is organized by Subreddits, individual communities that are formed around a particular subject. Each Subreddit is managed by different users (moderators) who can set their own rules.

As a result, different Subreddits can have a vastly different focus and vibe, even when they are seemingly related in some way. For instance, people who like pictures of cute animals will find many Subreddits dedicated to furry (and not-so-furry) creatures. Some Subreddits, like r/aww, are broad while others, like r/babyelephantgifs, are far more focused.

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Reddit supports Subreddit-based ad targeting, and while marketers can let Reddit target based on its determination of user interests, for optimal results, most marketers will want to take advantage of the opportunity they have to select the specific Subreddits they target their ads too. This involves doing research and getting to know relevant Subreddits so that ads can be created with those Subreddits in mind. In some cases, marketers create ad copy specifically tailored for one or more individual Subreddit.

Don’t expect fancy tools and analytics.

While Reddit is more focused than ever on monetization and the evolution of its self-serve ad platform reflects that, marketers used to the bells and whistles offered by players with more mature ad businesses are likely to find that Reddit is still comparatively basic.

This is a curse, and a blessing. After all, while its less robust ad tools can make it more difficult for marketers to ply their craft, it arguably gives marketers who take the time to understand Reddit and the Redditors they’re targeting a huge advantage over lazy marketers who are used to campaigns that practically run themselves.

Keep it real, but don’t try too hard.

Reddit isn’t the place for slick, overly polished ads overflowing with buzzwords and marketing-speak. Put simply, save the BS for non-Reddit ads.

Of course, when some marketers hear “save the BS”, it has the opposite effect as they try way too hard to sound direct and cool. So what wins on Reddit? Generally-speaking, the best ad copy is straightforward and leaves little to the imagination. For example:

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And:

Both are direct and to the point. Good.

This ad from Orbitz is also fairly straightforward, but might be trying a little too hard to demonstrate a Reddit vibe with a questionable TIL (Today I Learned) reference:

And this Amazon ad, for obvious reasons, is horrible:

If you can, entice.

While it’s only possible to buy so much love, especially on a platform like Reddit, enticing Redditors with discounts or other promotions can be an effective way to garner interest. Of course, here too, it’s best to save the BS. A deal that isn’t much of a deal is likely to be ineffective at best and, at worst, look bad, so marketers that employ this tactic will want to ensure that they’re offering something compelling.

Select the appropriate ad type.

When it comes to Promoted Posts, the most commonly-used ad format on Reddit, marketers have two ad type options: link ads and text ads. As the name suggests, link ads, when clicked, direct users to a URL off of Reddit. Text ads, on the other hand, link to a Reddit post. That Reddit post can contain more text, and that text can include external links.

Both types of ads can be effective, but for the best results, marketers need to select wisely. While link ads are obviously appealing, as they drive traffic to marketers’ own sites, marketers should not underestimate the utility of using text ads to distribute a longer-form message on Reddit. Among other things, this approach can sometimes be a more effective way of generating engagement and conversation around what’s being marketed.

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Be prepared for feedback.

Given that Reddit is a community platform on which users voice their opinions, marketers shouldn’t be surprised if Redditors provide feedback on their ads. This can come in the form of upvotes and downvotes, and when a text ad is used, in the form of comments. 

The Wild Wild West feel of Reddit and the risk of negative feedback has scared some marketers away, but in reality, concerns are overblown. So long as ads don’t go out of their way to deliver a dumb or controversial message, Redditors are more likely to not click on the ads than they are to become agitated by them.

Experiment and optimize.

As with all digital marketing efforts, a willingness to experiment and invest in optimization will go a long way on Reddit. While some marketers achieve rapid success with Reddit, usually in part because they have a product or service that is perfectly-aligned to one or more vibrant Subreddits, more often than not, Reddit is just like any other platform: it takes time and effort to get things right.

Of course, ROI is never guaranteed, but for marketers looking to expand their horizons and grow with a massively popular social platform that is finally making a concerted effort to build a powerhouse ad business, it’s hard to find opportunities like those being presented by Reddit today.

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