Marketing on the Great Reddit Machine (Part 2): What's Gonna Get in the Way?

This is the second post in a three-part series about marketing on Reddit. You can find the first one here. Today I'll be covering some of the barriers that marketers may come across when using Reddit for marketing.



Marketing on Reddit can be tricky. Reddit is not like Facebook or Twitter, it is one of the many conversation channels available to us on the Internet. A large part of Reddit is finding wisdom from the crowd – and redditors are generally a helpful and knowledgeable bunch. Case in point: a rage comic about one guy who got a positive pregnancy test result led to a diagnosis for testicular cancer. Yes, Reddit quite literally saved a man's life.

That being said, the social network is not without its faults. Because of the way Reddit is built there are some things that make marketing (in particular, promoting yourself) difficult. Not impossible, but difficult:

Skepticism:  The Reddit community in general can be characterized as a skeptical bunch. If discussions on subreddits like /r/atheism and /r/science are any indication, redditors take everything they see and hear with a grain of salt. In this technological age, the average customer has become less trusting and more wary of the messages PR folk and advertisers put out. But redditors are a special breed: they represent a group that will question every claim you make and will do their research to make sure you aren't lying.

The Dreck: Then there's the noise. Like with any social media site, there's a lot of fluff and irrelevant content to filter through. On Reddit, you'll have to deal with the trolls and wisecrackers who think the're funny. There are a special breed of redditors whose sole purpose on Reddit is to post incindeary comments and basically rile veryone's feather. We also have the really immature ones who post poop jokes. Yeah, redditors can be a surprisingly juvenile bunch. But Reddit's internal search engine allows you to filter out certain terms in order to dial down on what it is exactly you're looking for. In general, moderators on subreddits are there to ensure that content that does not coincide with a subreddit's values and raison d'etre are often flagged, usually deleted.

The "Hivemind": The "hivemind" however is probably a marketer's biggest barrier to promoting on Reddit. While redditors are typically considered to be free liberal thinkers, it's also subject to the "mob mentality" that pervades other large online communities. Take /r/politics for example. While /r/politics is supposed to be a subreddit that encourages political discourse from all sides of the American political spectrum, it's dominated by left-leaning Liberals. And when someone posts content that's more right-leaning, the denizens of /r/politics are quick to downvote it to oblivion simply because it doesn't gel with their political beliefs. Because of the hivemind, the Reddit community has had to create a whole bunch of political subreddits that run the gamut of the spectrum.

(On a more personal note, this is the one aspect of Reddit I've always found a bit discouraging: I consider myself fairly liberal but I wouldn't bash someone's political beliefs and refuse to talk to them.)