Reddit is one of the largest discussion forums on the web, covering everything from sports to Flamenco dancing. With around 240 million unique users every month, it also offers plenty of scope for marketers to reach specific demographics.
In the past, marketing on Reddit has been tough. The site has always tried to maintain its independent, outsider image. Instead of large banner ads that dominate user’s feeds Reddit ads have tended to be “sponsored links” that struggle to stand out from ordinary posts.
Many companies have chosen other ways to harness the marketing potential of Reddit by creating viral posts, GIFs, videos and blogs that direct traffic to their sites or draw attention to their products. In many cases, this kind of indirect marketing has worked well, but it’s definitely hit and miss.
Now, things are changing. Reddit has announced that is introducing what are known as “Promoted User Posts” (PUPs), in an attempt to compete with Facebook and Twitter. These new ads could be a great way to connect with potential leads, but what are they, and how do they work?
Hitch A Ride on Reddit’s Most Popular Posters
PUPs are unlike the vast majority of online ads. Generally, advertisers call the shots regarding the content of their adverts. But with PUPs, companies pay money to sponsor content that has already been submitted by Reddit users.
So, if someone holds a contest to see who can eat the most pizzas, Papa John’s could step in as the sponsor and gain traffic as a result.
When you sponsor a post, Reddit will contact the original poster, who can accept or decline your offer. There is no cash incentive to accept, but users will receive a flood of “Reddit Gold”, the online currency used to gain privileges on the site.
Reddit’s founders hope that PUPs will occupy a middle ground between conventional paid ads and the anarchic, user-generated content that Reddit users create. Theoretically, they ensure that original posters receive credit for their work, and companies can reach out to targeted demographics, a win-win situation.
With popular posters attracting hundreds of thousands of hits, PUPs are clearly a good way to gain attention. Reddit’s user base tends to differ significantly from Facebook and other social media sites, so they may be a way to reach out to new markets as well.
How Can You Capitalize on PUPs?
Companies will need to become more aware of what kind of content succeeds on Reddit, and which subreddits their customers like to frequent. If your market research shows that 30 percent of your customers are regular readers of r/Fishing, then sponsoring a post there could make a lot of sense.
Brands will also need to create strong relationships with Redditors who have large networks and create viral content. This might not be as easy as it sounds. Reddit has a reputation for non-conformity and hostility to advertising, so marketers will need to be savvy about how they approach influencers on the platform.
If your company adds value to the experiences of Redditors, then users should respond favorably when you create PUPs. But if you start sponsoring irrelevant posts, your credibility will suffer.
This makes it vital to offer content that relates to the passions of Reddit users. If you sell gaming peripherals, you could host online tournaments and buy PUPs for popular videos from those events. If you sell sports nutrition products, sponsoring weight loss posts or bodybuilding testimonies could be effective. It’s all about knowing your market and delivering what they want.
Adopt an Honest Approach to Win Redditors Over
Advertising on Reddit is still a little like the Wild West – lawless, sometimes scary, but full of energy and potential. Companies that want to succeed in sponsoring user posts will need to act in a way that harmonizes with this environment and doesn’t alienate the community.
As Reddit founder Steve Huffman says, “when advertisers come with honest intentions we see a much higher level of engagement with the brand. We don’t see hostility and we have valuable connections.”
If you make big claims that you can’t deliver on, Reddit will punish you. The site is filled with stories by angry corporate customers and links from Reddit posts travel all across the web.
But for every angry post, there are also positive stories about engagement with businesses their products. Sure, you can damage your brand by angering the Reddit community, but you can also create a loyal following too. It’s all about being honest and transparent.
Reddit’s Promoted User Posts could be the next big thing in online advertising. They won’t suit every business, but they could be the ideal way to reach out to an untapped market, and they are certainly worth looking at.