Ad Age Next

4 ways your brand can get love on Reddit -- and win karma

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Credit: Sean T. Smith

Any brand marketer looking to leverage Reddit's notoriously passionate community knows that the waters can be treacherous.

Still, there are ways to strike a meaningful chord.

Jen Wong, Reddit's chief operating officer, shared a few of them today at Ad Age's Next conference in New Yrok.

Rule 1: Build trust

"Being human, for us, that's the one thing," Wong said. "That is the building block of trust and how Reddit works."

Brands need to ease into the conversation online and not just barge in with their product pitch, Wong explained. "There needs to be a little bit of an exchange before you put a proposition in front of them," she said.

Rule 2: Don't fear the two-way conversation

Wong said brands come to Reddit and say they want the kind of engagement they see on the website, where the communities are commenting and sharing. "But a lot of brands are concerned about two-way conversation," Wong said.

Reddit ads can look like any unpaid post, and they can offer the same ability for people to comment on them, but not all brands take advantage of that open forum, for obvious reasons: Commenters, after all, can be less than respectful. But Wong pointed to a recent campaign by Potbelly, the Chicago-based sandwich chain, for how conversation can work for brands.

The fast-food shop invited Redditors to weigh in on whether they top their cheesesteaks with provolone or Cheez Whiz. (Provolone won the poll, but some native Philidelphians might have a bone to pick.)

Rule 3: It's all about the prompt

Reddit wants marketers to take seriously how they shape the message, Wong said..

"It's all about the prompt," she said. Here is how Potbelly titled the sponsored Reddit post: "A cheesesteak is only legit if topped with Cheez Whiz. If you disagree you're everything wrong with America. Reddit Gold to the best responses."

Rule 4: Give gold, reap karma

The Reddit audience loves Reddit coins. Users buy the virtual currency from the site to hand them out to thier favorite comments and posts. And, as long as the brand is transparent, there's nothing wrong with a little bribery. Potbelly, for example, gave out Reddit coins to the best responses to its cheesesteak taunt.

Reddit is also driven by "karma," which accrues in the form of points---the best responses get voted by the audience to the top, and they have the highest karma total. For brands looking to measure their impact, karma is a good place to start. "Reddit runs on Karma," Wong said. "Karma is a measure of your contribution."

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