Reddit Hates Marketing. How to Market on it Anyway.

It's Not Easy, but You Should Try. Well, Some of You.

By Published on .

Try not to do this.
Try not to do this.

Marketers have long sought the best way into a role on Reddit, where memes and news often gain viral momentum well before platforms like Facebook. The problem is that Redditors overwhelmingly hate marketing in (almost) all its forms, and are suspicious of any sort of sales pitch. They also happen to be extremely good at skewering your any of your advertising efforts, especially if they can tell that you're being fake or lying. Sometimes they just happen to hate your company regardless.

So a talk at SXSW on Monday, presented by Rohit Thawani, director of digital strategy at TBWA/Chiat/Day, and Garrett Tillman, senior social media manager at Trulia, tried to help marketers and agencies make sense of the wild and wonderful world of Reddit. Below, we present five things you should know about marketing on Reddit.

Face it: You're probably not going to be able to hack it on Reddit.
"The truth is, most brands and marketers are doing Reddit in a fucked-up, horrible way," said Mr. Thawani. If you're a brand that's scared of questions that hint at any weakness (see Intel CEO Brian Kranich's AMA that ignored all questions about computer security) or unwilling to follow up on outstanding questions, just don't make an appearance.

Don't post memes.
Brands that try to insert themselves into memes are bound to fail. When Pilot posted an image of its G2 pen calling it the "only pen that matters," Redditors pushed back. As "prosthetic4head" wrote: "Even if he's not paid by the company or an advertising agency, I don't really want people who are just fans of some brand making accounts just to post about that product. What would reddit be then?"

Be real.
One of the best-in-class examples of a brand using Reddit was Nissan, which got two real community managers to ask people about the crazy things they could buy off Amazon, then actually went ahead and bought them. Then, a Redditor posted an image of a ginormous Amazon box on a truck -- which happened to contain a Nissan Versa Note. The picture went viral. Nissan got cred. Redditors got good content.

Don't be afraid to lurk.
"There are tools that prove lurking on Reddit can be even more powerful than posting," said Mr. Thawani. Those include the Reddit Enhancement Suite, which lets you subscribe to threads. You can also track the trending subreddit, keep an eye on which of your competitors is doing badly via r/hailcorporate or jump in with "Does Anyone Else" questions tailored to your community to do some market research.

Be generous.
Use Gold to reward users talking positively about your brand. "It's an easy way to surprise and delight the community," said Mr. Tillman. Gold costs $5 a pop -- and the proceeds go to keeping the servers running, which in turns gets you in good with Redditors.

Check out the subreddit created for the talk here.

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