Reddit, also known as “the front page of the internet” has a long and complicated history, marked by massive changes in power and major conflicts over how to handle trolls and bullies on the platform. Many brands are rightfully skeptical about trying to market on the channel.
One of the most popular ways for brands to get a little Reddit facetime is by hosting AMAs (ask me anything). If done correctly they can be very successful.
While it can be done, there are plenty of examples of Reddit marketing or AMAs gone wrong. Here are my top five. There are lessons to be learned before your brand tries to market to Redditors.
After announcing that REI was giving their workers Thanksgiving and Black Friday off with pay, the CEO participated in an AMA on Reddit. He likely didn’t expect to be bombarded by messages from current and former employees who blasted the company for focusing too much on membership sign ups and ignoring other performance indicators such as product knowledge. Other employees complained about the company’s low pay and lack of hours.
Probably not how REI expected the AMA to go, but CEO Jerry Strizke took it in stride and responded to the concerns, both on Reddit and in internal company memos.
Lesson: Respond to criticism.
Strizke was pretty new to the job when he took on this AMA and seem genuinely perplexed about the focus on memberships, and it did seem like he followed through with internal initiatives.
If there is one thing Redditors don’t take kindly to, it is inauthentic marketing. Nissan found that out the hard way when they were accused of planting questions during their CEO’s AMA. “Why is Nissan PR asking themselves questions?” asked one Redditor.
There also seemed to be a large number of brand new accounts with no history asking questions. Reddit says the number of new accounts asking questions was not unusual. However, Redditors weren’t buying it.
Lesson: Reddit can be a cut-throat platform for brands who don’t know what they are doing or who aren’t 100% authentic. If you are looking to market, make sure to learn the platform or hire someone who does.
The travel company built around leveraging a loophole in airline pricing called “hidden city ticketing” was launched into fame when the big airlines took the company to court. After successfully beating the lawsuit, the CEO participated in a Reddit AMA, which did not go as expected.
Instead of sharing where they thought the company should donate extra money raised for their lawsuit, Redditors began talking about how the ‘hidden city ticketing’ practice could get you banned by airlines or have your frequent flyer miles seized.
For all the Redditors bashing the practice, the site went down a few hours later due to the so-called “Reddit hug of death”.
Sometimes things won’t go as planned (A bit of a trend on Reddit!). Be prepared for the trolls or, you know, for Redditors who don’t take kindly to their
Lesson: Don’t assume you can control the conversation. And just because Reddit gives you flak doesn’t mean they don’t love you.
This mess up wasn’t Google’s fault per say, but it was a fail none the less. Just as their AMA with the Site Reliability Engineering Team went live, Gmail went down, turning the AMA into a mess of complaints and jokes.
There might not be much they could have done to prevent the outage, but it is a messy reminder to be prepared for the worst.
Lesson: There will always be things you can’t control. Be ready to roll with the punches.
Marketing on Reddit is No Easy Task
Marketing on Reddit can be a struggle for many brands. This is because the Reddit community is notorious for calling out marketers who don’t bring any value to the community. But, that does not mean you cannot market on Reddit, it just means you need to build a strategy specifically for the platform.
Want to learn more about marketing on Reddit?
Check out the recap of our SEJ ThinkTank webinar titled “Is Your Brand Missing Out on Reddit?” to learn more tips on Reddit advertising.
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