Neil Patel

A Business Owner’s Guide to Blowing Up on Reddit (Without Pissing Everyone Off)

Who wants to spend marketing time and money on Reddit only to make everyone mad?

That’s right. No one. No one wants to do that.

In fact, the top goal of marketers today is to increase their traffic and lead generation.

Which means that marketers everywhere want to do the opposite of make everyone mad.

Sadly, that’s the end of the story for many ambitious Reddit marketers.

They enter with the best of intentions and leave with scars, bruises and, worst of all, a worse ROI.

One publisher puts it this way: “Reddit hates blatant marketing.”

And that publisher is right. Redditors hate us marketers.

But why? Why do they hate us?

Well, the reason is simple. They hate us because we are trying to sell them something and they aren’t on Reddit to buy what we’re selling them.

In other words, we’re annoying.

Most Redditors visit the platform to explore serious and silly topics. Everything from Fitness subreddits:

To cats standing up:

But they don’t visit the platform to buy your products.

And when you find out that Reddit has eight billion pageviews every month, sitting at the seventh most-visited site on the web, all of that potential becomes discouraging instead of promising.

After all, that’s a lot of people you could have access to.

If only they didn’t hate you.

Fortunately, they don’t have to hate you.

You can market to them on Reddit in a way that enhances your brand image instead of harming it.

In fact, here’s why Reddit is actually a great place to market your business.

Why Reddit is a great place to market your business

Don’t get discouraged by all of that marketing hatred.

You don’t have to be a martyr on the platform. If you do it right, the massive user base will fall in love with you.

But, more importantly, your target market will fall in love with you.

Reddit strongly discourages sales content for its audience, but with savvy marketing tactics, you can still access those 85 million unique monthly visitors.

But how? What tactics can you use to access that massive base of potential customers?

Well, before we dive into how you can do that, you first have to understand why people visit Reddit.

There are only two primary reasons.

  1. To get helpful information.
  2. To entertain themselves.

That’s it.

This means that if you spend your time helping people or providing entertainment on Reddit, then you’ll gain attention without making people mad.

Just consider this thread about buying inexpensive auto parts.

Or this thread, on the entertainment side of things, about a shark stepping on a lego.

The point?

Redditors want to have fun or solve a problem.

If you do one of those things with your account, then your business will gain attention, drive leads, and build revenue, all without building an audience of hatred.

Here’s how you can create your Reddit account to start taking advantage of its potential.

How to create your account

New to Reddit?

No problem.

To create your Reddit account, go to Reddit and click on the “Become A Redditor” button.

Then, you’ll need to enter your email address and click the “Next” button.

You’ll see this overlay that allows you to subscribe to subreddits that you want to follow.

It will also automatically subscribe you to subreddits it thinks you might be interested in. You can unsubscribe from these if they don’t fit the bill.

Make sure that you follow any subreddits relevant to your audience. Ideally, you want to hang out in the same digital Reddit space that your target market hangs out.

If you do, you can then comment on other people’s threads, answer questions, and upvote great content, all while increasing how prevalent your brand is in the digital world.

Because here’s the thing: Reddit is a community.

To blow up without making everyone mad, you must become part of the community.

The more you get to know users (and the more they get to know you) the better relationships you’ll build and the more attention your business will receive.

On the next screen, Reddit will ask you to choose your username. Make this something that connects you to your business.

That way, when people see it, they’ll see your brand name.

Click the “Submit” button, and you’re all finished.

Now you can join and create conversations at your leisure.

However, there’s one more thing you should be aware of.

It’s called “Karma.” And it’s Reddit’s version of SEO.

The more Karma you have, the more attention Reddit will give you and the more likely it is that you’ll show you to people browsing its platform.

You’ll start with 1 Karma. The higher that number gets, the more people who will see your comments and subreddits.

There are two different types of Karma.

Post Karma and Comment Karma.

You receive the first when you get upvotes on your posts. You receive the second when you get upvotes on your comments.

Simple, right?

And more Karma means more visibility to the people who matter.

Which means your business generates more traffic, more leads, and more revenue.

It’s like magic. Except it’s not.

In fact, here are four specific ways you can blow up on Reddit without pissing everyone off.

1. Ask honest questions

Reddit thrives on transparency.

The community generally flocks to subreddits with an extra dose of honest juice.

And for good reason.

After all, Reddit is where many people go to ask questions and find answers. It’s a great platform for doing that only because many of the users are willing to answer those questions.

You can use that truth to your business’s advantage.

You can ask questions of your ideal clients to learn about them and better understand your target market.

Just make sure the questions have a healthy dose of honesty.

This will accomplish two things.

  1. You’ll learn valuable information about your customer base.
  2. You’ll build brand awareness.

One company, for instance, Wax and Wick, used Reddit to learn about its customers.

As the company was trying to grow, the founders struggled to sell their candles, which they primarily marketed to men.

They ended up finding out that the massive portion of people who buy candles aren’t men, they’re women.

How then, could they possibly create a successful business around candles made for men?

That’s the question they asked Redditors.

Here’s exactly what they asked.

And lest you think that doing something like that is too transparent and weak for marketers, consider the number of comments they received: 130.

But also consider the nature of those comments.

Here are a few examples.

Someone offering a valuable suggestion…

Someone with advice who’s also interested in working for the company…

And finally, someone who is wildly interested in their product.

Do you see what just happened?

By asking a question with a bit of transparency, Wax and Wick didn’t just gain loads of valuable information about their target market.

  1. Market the candles to girlfriends and wives.
  2. Women are more interested in the “men’s” candles than they originally thought.

But they also generated free brand awareness and even won some potential customers.

How did they do it?

They simply asked an honest question that put their product and business on the radar of people who had never heard of it.

Maybe the question you ask is about your product, or your website, or your marketing strategy.

Whatever the case, those questions won’t only get loads of attention and comments, they’ll get customers.

Since you didn’t pitch anyone on your product but marketed it subtly with a transparent question, Redditors won’t be wary of your actions, and they might even buy your product.

2. Engage in the conversation

You’re not a celebrity.

And that means you can’t step onto a pedestal, say something profound, and leave without further comment.

Only people and businesses that have spent years building millions of followers have that ability.

And even they aren’t completely immune to the repercussions of ignoring their followers.

Here’s the reality: No one hates being ignored more than Redditors.

If you ask a question, stick around to thank people for their answers.

If you post something entertaining, respond to comments and engage in the follow-up banter.

You don’t have the leisure to ignore people’s responses. Especially on Reddit.

So don’t.

Instead, spend some time engaging in conversations that you and other people have started.

Here’s how Social Media Examiner puts it:

“As a business, you need to learn the ropes and focus on supporting the subreddits you join, instead of marketing to them. Think more about offering solutions, sharing resources or asking questions, and less about selling.”

Ford, for example, did a great job of engaging Redditors when it started its FordPiDayChallenge, where it asked its audience math questions.

Here’s what one of those questions looks like.

And users were engaged.

If you don’t take the time to respond to that engagement, it makes for a lot of unnecessarily lost potential with your audience.

One user took advantage after asking about ad placement and responded to loads of comments on the thread.

This is a much smarter way to approach using Reddit.

As you can see, the post received more than 200 comments.

That’s at least partly due to the constant activity of the person who asked the question.

After all, no one wants to spend time putting together a thoughtful answer to your question only for you to ignore them.

Reddit is no exception.

Answer people’s questions. Respond to people’s comments.

It’s a simple recipe for generating loads of desired attention on Reddit.

And it ensures that people won’t get burnt out on talking in your threads.

3. Make it fun

Don’t forget the second reason that people visit Reddit.

To entertain themselves.

But here’s the important part: If you provide that entertainment, then you don’t only win Reddit Karma, you win brand awareness, build customer loyalty, and enhance your brand’s image in the eyes of consumers.

Unfortunately, you’re probably not a comedian, and I’m guessing you don’t work in the entertainment industry.

How, then, can you possibly create entertaining, brand-building, engaging and fun content?

Well, perhaps a few examples will give you ideas of your own.

Take this Reddit advertisement as a dose of inspiration.

Ikea used Reddit to advertise its Valentine’s Day offer. Specifically, the company offered a free crib for any babies born nine months after Valentine’s Day.

But did the ad work with Redditors? Were they interested in it? Did it actually receive any noteworthy attention?

In short, yes.

The Reddit ad received over 1,000 comments and almost two million views.

You can create a similar advertisement to generate attention. Make it unique, interesting, and fun.

Remember, though, your goal isn’t so much to sell products. Your goal is to entertain Reddit users.

Reddit doesn’t respond well to blatant marketing, but they don’t mind fun and interesting marketing.

Which is why creating a fun advertisement can gain you loads of attention, despite those marketing roots.

Another example of that creative vibe on Reddit is the Shower Thoughts subreddit, where people post random, weird, and obscure thoughts.

But maybe you’re not creative enough to give a crib away nine months after Valentine’s Day or think of an interesting shower thought to contribute.

In that case, use AMA (Reddit speak for “Ask Me Anything”).

Do that, and you’ll be in good company. Specifically, in the company of Barack Obama.

That’s right, the former President of the United States used AMA to generate attention and positivity around his presidency.

And if the President can do it to generate attention, you can do it to generate traffic, leads, and even sales.

Simply tell people who you are and allow them to ask you questions.

It’s a bold move, but one that will easily draw the attention of Redditors everywhere.

4. Promote compelling offers or products in the right subreddits

Yes. Redditors hate blatant marketing.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t get away with some marketing.

You just have to do it right.

The key word behind that hatred is “blatant.”

Generally speaking, Redditors don’t mind posts and comments that say things like, “Here’s a blog post to help you out with this topic…” or “This tool can help you solve your problem…”

But they do hate things like, “You should buy this product! Limited time offer!” or “Get yours while supplies last!”

In other words, they hate when marketers use too much “advertising speak.”

That doesn’t mean, however, that they hate discounts.

To the contrary, this deal from Nordstrom received 856 upvotes and 54 comments.

Plus, that deal and picture created a lot of talk about the brand and product. Here’s some stuff from the comment section.

Evidently, Redditors flocked to the deal willingly, taking the defense of the post into their own hands.

That’s a lot of brand awareness you can generate by simply coming up with a special offer and marketing it in the correct subreddit.

Just make sure that the subreddits you choose are relevant to the category of product you’re advertising.

That way, you’ll attract the right people to the right item.

To further prove that Redditors don’t always hate marketers, just consider the comments from this company’s post.

The point?

Market — but don’t overdo it.

Redditors don’t mind you advertising special offers and telling them about upcoming deals, but they do mind if it feels like all you want is their money.

Redditors want you to build a relationship with them before offering a product.

They want you to take them out to dinner before offering them a ring.

That’s pretty reasonable, don’t you think?

All you have to do, then, is promote your products and business sparingly.

If you only do it every once in a while, your target market will pay attention more than they would otherwise.

Conclusion

You hear about Reddit’s marketing potential. So you go to Reddit, create an account, and start marketing your products relentlessly.

At first, you thought the lack of attention was because of an inadequate offer.

So you increased the percentage-off and using a better product image.

But alas, nothing happened.

Unfortunately, many marketers fall victim to this scenario.

If that’s you, you’re not alone. It’s an easy mistake to make.

But here’s the good news: there’s a way out of your Reddit-marketing desperation.

The answer lies in four primary strategies.

  1. Asking honest questions to build a relationship with Redditors.
  2. Engaging in conversations as much as possible by commenting on your own posts and other people’s posts.
  3. Providing entertainment for your audience, building your brand’s image and its relationship with ideal customers.
  4. Promoting compelling offers and deals in the right subreddits to drive traffic and leads to your website.

Only then will you be able to take full advantage of the selling potential that Reddit has to offer.

Otherwise, you’ll just piss everyone off.

How do you gain attention for your business on Reddit without making people mad?