Digital Marketing

Reddit as a Social Listening Tool

May 16, 2019
Digital Surgeons

Co-authored by Cory Zibell, Technology Lead & Inessa Yusupov, Senior Art Director

Understanding Reddit as a Platform

As the fifth most popular website in the US, Reddit thrives on continuous user interaction and rating of valuable and useful content. Unlike many other social platforms, users tend to explore Reddit for longer, have more thoughtful engagements, and are unlikely to support and interact with content unless it is directly valuable. This is different from typical social networks where “influencers” have sway and impressions on users. On Reddit, your username matters much less than what you post, and often the most successful users are relays for valuable content, rather than content producers themselves.

That being said, Reddit can be a scary place for a brand. It’s a community based on authenticity and is composed of highly discerning users. Becoming a successful brand among the seemingly infinite subreddits isn’t a task you may be ready for. Beyond that, it may not even be appropriate for your brand to have a presence on the platform. But that doesn’t mean you can’t leverage Reddit as a social listening tool to improve your brand or communications platform.

Is Reddit Right for Your Brand?

When deciding which of the numerous and ever-growing social media platforms to focus on, the primary deciding factor tends to be audience segment. If you take a look at Reddit’s demographics as a whole, you’ll see that it is a male-dominant platform in which 87% of users are under 35 years old, and 54% are located in the US. But that data becomes irrelevant and highly misleading when you drill down to the subreddit level.

Reddit as a Social Listening Tool

Reddit has inherently pre-segmented audiences. It’s like a gift to marketers – each subreddit is an organically-formed community of like-minded people with very targeted, in-depth discussion topics. All you have to do is know where to look and how to leverage what’s available to you. And when used continually, it can serve as a tool to build more accurate and useful personas when establishing a target audience, building a communications platform, or uncovering a new relevant niche segment. When choosing the right subreddits to follow, investigate the subreddits that seem like they could be related to your niche. Take note of how many subscribers it has, when the last post was made, and the type of content that is being shared and discussed. This will ensure that you’re subscribed to active, valuable conversations.

Establishing Your Base Persona(s) Through Subreddits

There are many approaches to establishing a persona. Common practice is to base your persona on a celebrity or other well-known, relatable figures. Because a persona helps direct decisions, it is important for it to be easy to visualize and act on. The problem with using celebrities as a base persona is that they aren’t real people. They are fabricated and filtered archetypes that won’t necessarily help you uncover insights or better communicate with your audience. The beauty of Reddit is that it is full of discussion-oriented individuals. They love to rate, share, debate, and poke holes. Naturally, you’ll find a large number of organic brand advocates among these discerning and opinionated redditors. How do you leverage them? Simply find an organic brand advocate based on one user’s values and use that redditor as your archetype when building a persona. By basing it on a real person or community of people, you’ll have a more complete image of your target audience’s lifestyle, their decision trees, general concerns, and motivators.

Building an In-Depth Persona

Once you’ve identified an individual or community to inspire your persona, your in-depth research can begin. Each user has a viewable comment history, which reveals which subreddits they have been active in, comments they have posted, and how others have responded to those comments. You will instantly understand what your audience is talking about and what issues or solutions they may have. By searching comments and seeing the community response based on up or down vote, you’ll also quickly and easily start to understand social and community biases that may be relevant to your brand. And over time, you’ll be able to pick up on your consumers’ vernacular and leverage it to create more targeted, high-impact messaging.

Maintaining Your Persona to Keep it Relevant Over Time

Lovingly known as "The Frontpage of the Internet", Reddit has grown to become one of the top influential news sources of today. In January of this year, Reddit saw 274 million unique visitors. Once you join the Reddit community and browse it regularly, you’ll start to notice that trending posts on Facebook, Twitter, and other popular social networks originate from Reddit posts. Before you know it, you’ll be spotting trends relevant to your audience fast enough to act on them. In general, staying current with Reddit will help you:

  • Understand upcoming trends through community sway and conversation.
  • Understand how current events shift perspectives or impact product trends.
  • See how your users continue to use Reddit. What are the new subreddits they are participating in? How have their views changed over time?
  • Discover more natural brand advocates as well as brand detractors. You'll understand what platforms to seed content based on sites your brand advocates use and how to improve your company or image based on brand detractors

Resources & Quick Start Tips

Whether you’re new to Reddit or wake up to your Reddit feed every morning, we have some handy tips and resources to help kickstart your personas. First, start with Reddit on a mobile device, as it is much easier to digest. You can use the Reddit app or a third-party app for a more intuitive user interface. Reddit is available on Android and iOS –once you create an account, you can officially call yourself a Reddit lurker.

There are over 45,000 subreddits, with new ones being created every day. Fortunately, the Delay for Reddit launched a feature to help find the perfect subreddit to market your products and services. The tool analyzes hundreds of subreddits and gives you a ranked score based upon the number of subscribers and relevance of the topic.

How to search & browse Reddit

Searching Reddit - For searching, it is recommended that you use Google. Reddit does have built-in search, but it is known to the community that it is unstable and generally does not return relevant results. A simple way to start is to type [your brand name here] site:reddit.com into google and start browsing through links. You can begin to get a feel of the conversations occurring around your brand.

Browsing Reddit - Browsing consists of visiting subreddits relevant to your brand, and sorting and filtering content to drive down into your intended outcome. Knowing what “Hot, Top, Rising, Controversial, and New” are and how they allow you to more specifically filter through content.

Reddit Insights - Certain websites like Reddit Metrics will give you insight into what is trending on Reddit, which can give you a pulse on your audience. Others, like Snoop Snoo will give you insights into specific Reddit users (think, your persona users).

Go the distance - let Digital Surgeons help you uncover your brand’s potential through Reddit and other social networks and untapped platforms.

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