Social news website Reddit is a tricky beast to tame. It’s wildly popular, and therefore attractive to brands and advertisers, but users are acutely sensitive about advertising appearing on the site.
Its tagline, “the front page of the Internet” is quite fitting. Certain postings, like Grumpy Cat for example, have exploded after being put up on Reddit. That can be very attractive to brands.
Any use of Reddit to expand or gain exposure for your business has to be approached very carefully, or users could turn on you quickly. Users on Reddit up-vote or down-vote content and postings that are obviously marketing; postings that appear too frequently will get voted down fast.
Before embarking on using Reddit for your branding efforts, take a look at these five tips:
1. Encourage advocates to post.
Reddit focuses on users, not brands, so if you can engage fans of your brand to post, it will be much better received. Before you begin, do some research to see whether there is already a sub-Reddit about your brand. Sub-Reddits are small online communities within Reddit that are centered on a topic. If your brand doesn’t already have a sub-Reddit, try interacting with users in sub-Reddits on topics that are related to your brand. Be mindful to share valuable content, not just ask users to post about your brand.
2. Update news and calendar.
Reddit users are looking for the freshest top stories of the day. Keep fans of your brand up to date on announcements and upcoming news. You can post a calendar of events within Reddit to keep your followers on track.
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3. Build a network.
If your brand is related to several sub-Reddits, consider connecting them to build a network. Anyone can create a sub-Reddit, so there is a ton of overlap. Build common navigations that link to all the sub-Reddits and create similar names if possible. Building an entire network, versus just a sub-Reddit, creates a more extensive sense of community and offers followers easy access to more information on related topics.
4. Offer customer service.
Customers have come to expect to be able to ask customer service questions on social media. Be certain you have personnel and policies in place to attend to any customer service issues on Reddit as well. You can make a very happy customer with good customer service, and you can quickly lose a customer with bad service.
Consider creating a sub-Reddit specifically aimed at customer service questions from your customers. Make sure someone is available to answer questions in a timely fashion, or you’ll risk alienating customers.
5. Use it for marketing insight.
If your brand has thick enough skin to take it, you can ask questions on Reddit and get brutally honest responses from users. Even if you don’t ask questions out loud, you will probably receive feedback from users about your brand. Use this to your advantage; pay attention to what users have to say. They can help you improve your brand and business.
Wendy Parish is the owner of Wendy Parish Consulting. A version of this article originally appeared on the Social Media Strategies Summit blog.