A reasonable guide to reddit for marketers

reddit for marketers

You’ve likely heard of reddit, the giant, uncapitalized forum that people either love or hate. While it has a reputation for harsh commentary due to its anonymized posting system, marketers need to be paying attention to the deceptively simple site. A link to your product or page on reddit can bring tens of thousands of visits, if done correctly.

WARNING: reddit is a passionate community of 234 million users that frowns upon self-promotion. Therefore, in order to promote a brand or website, a user (or “redditor”) must provide more value to the community than self-promotion. Consider self-promotion posts to be a negative value and content posts to be a positive value.

What you need to know about reddit


reddit is divided into category pages, called subreddits. They each have a title, like “shower thoughts” and can be written that way, or as their link suffix: “/r/showerthoughts.” Posts on subreddits share a theme, and become their own distinct communities. Some subreddits are welcoming and friendly, and others are competitive and wary.

When you log into reddit, the highlights of all the different subreddits that you follow appear on the main page. To get you started, reddit automatically follows a few popular subreddits for you, such as /r/funny or /r/todayilearned.

The first thing you’ll want to do on reddit is to edit which subreddits you follow, as that will curate your entire experience of the site. To choose these new subreddits, click “edit” on the right side of the very top banner across the page. This will take you to a page of popular subreddits, and a right-side list of the ones to which you are already subscribed.

Simply unsubscribe to the subreddits that won’t interest you, and then search a few keywords to find subreddits that will. I enjoy /r/startups, /r/entrepreneur, /r/showerthoughts, and /r/writingprompts. Take time periodically to find new subreddits and remove ones that you aren’t enjoying.

It is important to do this even if you are using reddit for marketing purposes because you need to have a pulse on the community you’re reaching. I’ll go over more on this topic after defining a few more terms.


reddit has a point system in place to quantify the value a redditor provides, and it is called “karma.” There are two distinct ways to earn karma. The first is to post a link or text post of your own (this is a recent addition–only link posts used to count toward karma) for others to comment upon. Whenever someone votes in favor of your post, you receive a point of karma. Of the two karmic values, this is the more important number.

The second is to make comments upon other redditor’s posts, which are also voted upon. Again, each positive vote provides one point of karma. While this number is less important than post karma, comment karma is vital to new users, as in many subreddits you are prohibited from posting until you’ve accumulated positive comment karma. This practice helps ban trolls from posting.

As a marketer, you will want to achieve high values of both numbers. These numbers prove your worth to the community, and will protect you from criticism about promoting your own brand. The only way to boost these numbers is to provide real value to the reddit community.


the reddit logo alien. You’ll notice many subreddits have their own community Snoo.


this is an acronym for “too long; didn’t read.” Many longer posts start with a tl;dr summation, much as academic articles begin with a summary. These single sentences will often convince a reader whether your post is worth their time (or not) and should be written with time and care. If you use a tl;dr, draft a few of them before choosing one.


on reddit, self-promotion isn’t as much a set definition as the overall feel of the post. While posting links to your own content, website, or brand is frowned upon, there are times when it’s completely appropriate to do so, and you will know this by getting a feel for the subreddit.

If you’re confused by this concept or don’t want to step on toes in general, I’d recommend starting out by reading reddit’s own guide to self promotion. The tl;dr reddit gives of this post is: “Don’t just spam out your links, and don’t blindly upvote your own content or ask anyone else to!”

I think a better tl;dr is: “Don’t be a brand and don’t represent a brand. Instead, be an active community member that occasionally posts their own content.”

How to be a good redditor
Be genuine:

First, be yourself. If you’re representing a small company or a startup, you should be on reddit as yourself (though you don’t have to use your real name as your reddit handle). If you’re trying to market a larger company, consider opening your own subreddit, such as PBS did. Then frequent that subreddit as yourself.

There are a few key tenants that you should abide by: don’t solicit votes for karma, don’t pay people to vote, don’t promote your own content as if it is someone else’s, and don’t spam communities. Reddit has a short guide to spam that’s worth reading.

Provide value:

Always think before posting, “is this interesting?” Interesting posts make you feel an emotion or learn something. If your post won’t make someone laugh, cry, or be smarter in conversation, it might not be worth posting.

If your post doesn’t do any of these things, you might not be framing it correctly. Consider pulling in other sources to add to the post, or rewrite it a few times to cull it down to the vitals. Shorter, denser posts tend to be better, so write about fish like Hemingway, not like Melville.

Getting started on reddit

There’s more to learn about reddit, but this is a solid start. The next step is to start reading. I’d recommend spending your first few hours on reddit reading, over the course of a few days. Go into the subreddits individually, instead of on your front page, in order to get a feel for their unique natures.

After a few days of observing, start commenting. Try to make insightful comments, and to add to the conversation rather than saying you like or don’t like something.

After you’ve accumulated 20 or more comment karma, have verified your email, and been a member for more than two weeks, it is a good time to start contributing your own posts. Remember not to begin with your own content. Try to have 5-6 solid posts about other topics before presenting any of your own content.

When you first present your own content, remember to be interesting and provide value. Discount codes alone do not provide value, and will likely get your post deleted. Be creative, and show why your content is useful. Relate it to your subreddit directly, and avoid cross-posting to multiple subreddits.

If you follow these principles closely, you will receive less criticism for being a marketer, but remember that marketers are largely unwelcome — try to be a community member first, and a marketer maybe fourth or fifth.

Criticism on reddit

Even when following these principles, prepare yourself for some criticism. Do not feed the trolls, and let critical comments slide off your back for the most part. Be thick skinned.

If you do see trends in your posts’ criticism, however, do consider how you can use it to improve future posts. Often redditors are very upfront about what they want to see, and you can see even troll comments as useful feedback.

Have you used reddit for marketing before? I’d love to hear about your experiences. Please feel free to leave a comment below.

KikiSchirrKiki Schirr is a freelance marketer. She is also working on a lifestyle magazine for women in technology called Valley Girl — she would love for you to check it out! Kiki is also the author of Tech Doodles, and can be reached easily through Twitter.


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