Marketing on the Great Reddit Machine (Part 1): WTF is Reddit Anyway?

This is the first post in a three-part series about marketing on Reddit. Today I'll be giving a brief overview on Reddit if you haven't heard about it, what it is and how technographic segmentation applies.


You may have heard about this little place on the Internet called Reddit. Informally, it's known as the home of funny cat photos, memes and cerebral discussions about the virtues of bacon. But don't be so quick to discount the power of Reddit. While marketing itself on Reddit might not seem like a fit for your company, there are some instances where it CAN work. And even if you don't promote your shtick on the site, there are still ways to use Reddit to help your marketing activities. While Reddit doesn't have the same clout Twitter and Facebook does, it boasts nearly 35 million visitors per month. Stephen Colbert is a friend of Reddit. Celebrities answer questions on Reddit. Even the POTUS has been on Reddit. So yes, don't take Reddit lightly.


What the hell is Reddit?

Think of Reddit as one large online forum for any and every single interest out there. Visit the front page right now and you'll be greeted by a large list of assorted posts, from politics, Minecraft to the occasional meme. People who use the site call themselves redditors. Redditors can post content to subforums called subreddits that house discussion about a particular topic.

You've got me interested. So how does Reddit work?

Reddit operates on a voting system where popular content (i.e. what should be on the front page or deserve more attention) is rewarded with upvotes. Funny content, or anything thought-provoking for example would get an upvote. Negative content on the other hand, or a post that deliberately seeks to incite the community gets a downvote. Redditors can downvote content as a sign of their disapproval or if they see something that's blatantly advertising.

"Karma" is the backbone of Reddit: upvotes give you positive karma and downvotes decrease your karma. People with a lot of karma points are typically seen as opinion leaders within Reddit, and for this reason people post content in the hopes of reaping a lot of karma ponts.

I already mentioned subreddits.Think of them as subforums on your typical online forum. Each subreddit has anywhere from one moderator to a team of moderators who facilitate discussion, keep an eye out for the trolls and make sure that things are running smoothly.

The great thing about subreddits is that there's one for nearly every interest out there. Love pictures of cute animals and awww-inspiring moments? /r/aww is the place for you.  Obsessed with Doctor Who? Meet like-minded Whovians at /r/doctorwho. Consider yourself a running enthusiast? Check out /r/running. The beauty about Reddit is that it's not just about nerdy pursuits: there's /r/malefashionadvice for more fashion-inclined satorialists, a Vancouver-specific subreddit and even one for "toaster activists".

What kind of people are on Reddit?

Even among redditors there is the running joke that your typical redditor is 18-25, very liberal, loves to smoke weed and most likely an atheist. I took a section from this infographic which I think captures the typical redditor to a tee:

 Portrait of a Redditor

Portrait of a Redditor

Before going any further, this is the perfect place to segway into the magic of technographic segmentation. According to this blog post from Forrester, technographic segmentation concerns itself with "consumers approach social technologies – not just the adoption of individual technologies". Consumers are grouped into different categories based on their level of participation. In plain English: it's segmentation based on what we do on the Internet.

Based on this, the denizens of the Internet can be classified into any of the following groups:

Do you blog? Use social bookmarking? Share things on Twitter? Like to curate content? Do nothing? Since I'm writing this blog post, that would make me a Creator. At the same time I'm a Joiner who's on many social media sites and a Spectator for reading blogs.

Now back to Reddit. In this same manner, we can classify Reddit's population into these broad categories based on their Reddit habits:

  • Lurkers: People who simply browse their favourite subreddits, or even just /r/all (the most popular posts from across all of the subreddits). They don't directly participate in the conversation by commeting on posts nor do they post content.
  • Ex-Posters: Ex-Posters are Lurkers who have finally taken the next step: posting their own content! Their posts however either receive little attention or get downvoted to oblivion (sometimes of no fault of their own). Egos get hurt a little. They stop posting for a period of time but continue to lurk around Reddit until they gather the courage again to post content that hopefully nets them upvotes. This is often a transitionary phase
  • Creators: The people who post content. Reddit is a community of creators really and this is what keeps Reddit alive – the submissions of its users.