What is Reddit?
It’s the most pop-culturally influential site on the Internet today; frequently acting as the catalyst for new Internet conventions to spread like wildfire. It’s one of the most heavily trafficked sites in the world (stats). Reddit received 234m unique visitors in December 2015 viewing 6m pages per day. Reddit hosted a dedicated user base of 3.2m active, logged-in users in December 2015 (and many, many more inactive but registered users, I’m sure). There were 11,000 actively updating communities in the same month.
It’s a big site and the best place for discovering new trends, new ideas and learning what issues people care about. As the site itself puts it; “This is a place friendly to thought, relationships, arguments, and to those that wish to challenge those genres.”.
The Web Marketer’s Guide To Reddit
I’ve had a Reddit account for just a little over 7 years and, after lightly dipping in and out of the community for much of that time, I got interested and became a heavy user around July 2015. At the time, I was searching for alternative sources to discover new content. It didn’t take long to rediscover the immense depth, and value you receive from taking part in this community.
In my time participating on Reddit I’ve accrued a good amount of Karma and learned my way around several communities on the site. I’ve also improved my feel for “what works on the Internet” (a phrase I use often at BV HQ) and most importantly, I’ve picked up and shared a lot of new tips for ways to come up with better ideas.
Why Reddit Participation is an Essential Pre-Requisite for Web Marketing
As someone who works on the Internet, it’s my job to understand how the Internet works.
As someone who produces content; it’s vital to understand how it’s built and to know where to discover content that works. Reddit participation is the key to unlocking that door. By “participation”, I mean actively contributing (submitting, up/downvoting and commenting) and definitely not just submitting your marketing content.
Being “creative” is really difficult. Much of the difficulty you experience is self-exerted pressure, compounded by a lack of preparation. We feel obliged to consistently force out brand new never-though-of-before ideas, every day of our working lives, but don’t always do the necessary prep work to be able to come up with the goods. I’m sure you’ve had similar experiences to me; imagine a group of marketers, sitting around a table, killing themselves to come up with new ideas for a project…
Most of the time, creating something is actually about developing existing concepts or combining existing ideas in a new way. In content marketing, you can go an awfully long way without creating anything, really.
The only mechanism required to come up with this idea was an awareness of Mason Curry’s excellent book and some very savvy design methodology from Vicke Chueng.
We’re always trying to come up with ideas, but examples like this teach us a really important lesson. We don’t always think about how we come up with the ideas, where to look and how to adapt popular concepts into a format that will appeal to the right community.
This is precisely why I’m a big fan of Reddit.
Reddit: Lots of Amazing Ideas.
That’s why I think all Web Marketers should be active participants in the Reddit community. If you’re a Web Marketer you should be interested in how the Internet works, and Reddit remains the hub of pretty much everything happening on the Internet today.
The community simply won’t work well for you until you’ve customised it (edit the subreddits you subscribe to here – I started by just unsubscribing from all the defaults and subscribing to things I like as I go).
By finding subreddits that are of actual, personal interest, you’ll make it familiar and interesting. There are tens of thousands of active subreddits (useful statistics here) and hundreds of thousands of inactive ones that are teeming with raw content to inspire brilliant ideas.
Take a look:
A continuous flow of nostalgia from the 80’s. As you traverse from one submission to the next you begin to dream up ideas for galleries, list posts and long-form all about the popular, iconic 80’s. And that’s just our first subreddit.
An entire subreddit dedicated to attempts to predict the future in the past 100 or so years. There’s a lot of automotive imagery and attempts to guess at the outfits we’d be wearing in 2016. There’s a huge list of really obvious content ideas in this subreddit.
Analog is a subreddit dedicated to purely analogue photography. The depth and breadth of the submissions are astonishingly beautiful, all from photographers who have rightly ignored the pace of digital photography to remind us that the old ways are sometimes best.
r/Analog is a personal favourite of mine. It’s very easy to collate images from this subreddit by topic using a simple search:
Travel subreddits are plentiful. We’re planning a trip to Iceland, making this subreddit absolutely ideal. You can discover all sorts of things about a location this way. Think about the example below as a contributing image to an Icelandic architecture compilation.
Ask Reddit is a treasure trove of ideas. Journalists have been using this subreddit for news ideas for years. Usually, a discussion is turned into a news article – examples like this and this are really, really easy to find.
Ideas from askReddit are also really easy to put together. Here’s an easy travel content idea, straight from a Google search:
Make Ideas Quick and Easy: Scan a Subreddit
A really efficient way to learn how to use Reddit and come up with great content ideas at the same time is simply to scan and take a note of what stands out. Data is Beautiful is a good place to start; it’s full of very raw, undeveloped ideas.
The trick is to take the basis of an idea and think about how you can adapt it.
Here are a few notable concepts that stuck out to me when I was writing this post. I probably scanned the first 3 pages of the subreddit and came up with this:
Submission title: “This interactive map shows how long you would have to go into debt for an average condominium in Germany’s counties.”
Great idea, seems to have done really well. So, why wouldn’t we repeat that approach, but look at London or a UK city?
Submission title: “The Most Successful Labels in Hip Hop”
What about the most successful labels in rock? How much money have UK labels made from pop music? What about books? Book publishers by genre?
Submission title: “What Percentage of Their Income Do People Spend on Rent in Each County? [OC]”
This one’s easy: change (US) County for any worldwide city or country and I’m sure you’ve got the basis of a decent idea.
Diamonds in the Rough
Sometimes, ideas surface as diamonds in the rough:
I found this piece on rent pricing data in the Canary Wharf region of London via a thread on r/London. It’s terribly lacking in design but frankly that’s not the point – it was moderately successful (despite the presentation!) and therefore provides early validation for a concept that could be developed.
When I asked the submitter how he’d collected the data (I’d assumed he’d used a scraper), he told me he had engaged someone on freelancer.com to collect it for him. Imagine what he could do with Import.io!
AMA’s are about “something uncommon that plays a central role in your life”.
Essentially, it’s a series of threads for people of all types to introduce themselves and invite Redditors to ask them anything. To me, it’s a place to quickly find people with occupations or experiences that others might find interesting.
Interesting experiences and occupations are definitely of interest to journalists:
AMA can often inspire early article drafts, interviews or just really interesting introductions to topics you knew nothing about.
Here’s a result for people who mention “vacuum cleaners”. The first result is an AMA from a man who cleans private jets:
AMA can provide lots of raw ideas that would be great for pitches, blog posts or interviews. It’s worth taking a look.
Don’t forget to investigate a Subreddit via the “Top” tabs.
Use the sort filtering to help drill down to the most useful results. Here’s a search for some of the most popular AMA’s in the last month:
Recall: Ideas Come from Feeding the Brain
It takes years and years to improve your craft, whatever it may be. For example, you don’t suddenly become good at technical SEO, you have to learn, read, practice and test. The same should be true for the skill of developing content ideas.
Learning how to develop the way we come up with ideas is an incredibly powerful thing to do. Developing your interest in different communities on Reddit is a very smart and efficient way to achieve this quickly.
If you don’t feed your brain, you’ll never have recall enough to find joining ideas together to produce new ones a simple task. It’ll always feel like you have no idea what you’re doing. That’s not a feeling anyone enjoys!
What is Karma and Why Build It?
Karma is simply a tally of how much you’ve contributed to the Reddit community. Karma points are accrued via participation – so essentially we’re talking about a simple form of gamification.
Karma is everything; for the altruists, it’s a measure of how much good they’ve done in the community. For others, it’s a measure of power, influence and something to be enormously proud and protective of. Generally, the higher your Karma, the more likely your submission will gain traction. This is a tempting and useful proposition indeed.
If you have a reasonably high Karma, your submitted links will appear higher when they’re first submitted. The content itself needs to meet all of the requirements of that subreddit, or it’ll be voted down quickly (and you could be banned from submitting again if it breaches the submission guidelines). This is why, for the most part, you’ll get nowhere if you’re submitting marketing content that self-promotes.
Get it right, and with a bit of luck, the community will like what you submitted and Karma points will flow.
Getting started: Build Your Karma
When you’re submitting a piece of content, this is the message you see:
“You are submitting a link. The key to a successful submission is interesting content and a descriptive title.”
Follow that advice. That’s more or less it. In fact, if your article is good, original content, then frankly a decent title can mean everything to the success of the submission. I find myself rewriting the original title, a skill that you develop over time and with exposure to a particular subreddit.
Link and Comment Karma
The Karma system is relatively simple to understand. In short, you accrue Karma for all activities on Reddit. Link Karma is accrued for link submissions. Comment Karma is accrued by commenting (and receiving upvotes for your comment from community members). Link Karma cannot be reduced by downvoting, but comment Karma can. If you create a self.Reddit (for example, the excellent British Problems) you don’t accrue Karma for upvotes. Which I think is an awful shame.
As I said before, if you’re not subscribed to subreddits you’re interested in, you’re doing it wrong. I’ve found that, having built a list of subreddits I’d want to follow closely, like Formula 1 and Motorsports, it becomes a simple matter of habit that when I see something elsewhere, I remember to submit it.
Generally speaking, building Karma is easy. If you can do these 3 things:
– Discover emerging content early
– Find a subreddit that might work (evaluate, absorb, decide)
– Write a decent submission title
This is going to sound odd at first, but I’ve found my Facebook newsfeed to be a brilliant source for early discovery. For certain categories, such as news and environment, I’ve found the right subscriptions to publications like The Independent and Motherboard have helped me find good content quite early.
Other good sources of new content include your feed.ly (the blogs you subscribe to, if they’re diverse enough, might yield some interesting quick wins on a daily basis). Sites like RADurls and POPurls and interesting spaces like things.co are all useful sources of inspiration.
You’ll frequently come across content that needs a home. Submitting to Reddit obviously needs thought: is this content actually any good? Has it been submitted before? Generally speaking, a quick Google search will help find a good home for almost anything:
It’s highly important to evaluate a new subreddit if you’ve no previous experience of the space. Every subreddit has its own personality. It’s important to evaluate the suitability of the community, absorb some of the culture there before deciding if it feels like your new home. Are there many subscribers? Does the community appear to be active? How should a title be worded?
Warning: subreddit moderators will remove your post or even kick you out of they think you’re breaking the rules, so be careful and do the background work before you submit a post.
Having a better understanding of this community will massively improve your content ideas.
By participating, Reddit helps you develop a feel for what will work on the Internet, which obviously benefits your content ideation. By accruing Karma, you’re really evidencing the fact that you understand the site and can find your way around. In doing so, you’ll develop that all important sixth sense for “what works on the Internet”.
Further Reading / Data sources:
Cover Image: Reddit mascot ‘Snoo’. Credit: Reddit